Fox News' Sean Hannity and Todd Starnes portrayed restraints on proselytization as proof of the Obama administration's purported "war on religious liberty in the military," despite the fact that military policy has long prohibited unwanted proselytization.
On the May 2 edition of his Fox News show, Hannity claimed that a Pentagon statement reiterating the military's longtime policy against proselytizing was proof of Obama's "war on religious liberty." Starnes added that Christians were "under significant attack" by the Obama administration, under which "we have seen a Christian cleansing of the United States military."
In fact, the U.S. military's anti-proselytization policy has been consistent among all religions, and it targets only disruptive activities. A statement released May 2 by Defense Department spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Nate Christensen clarified the military's policy that "members of the military are free to share their faith as long as they don't harass others." Christensen continued:
Fox News stoked fears of terrorism to attack immigration reform while failing to acknowledge that the Senate's proposed immigration legislation includes provisions to bolster security measures.
The Washington Post reported the suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing legally immigrated to the United States as political refugees. Fox News personalities responded by attacking immigration reform and stoking fears of terrorism, going so far as to suggest that visitors from certain countries and regions be banned from entering the United States.
On the April 30 edition of Fox & Friends First, co-host Heather Nauert continued Fox's pattern of using the Boston Marathon bombings to attack immigration reform and stoke fears of terrorism, asserting that terrorists are "being granted tourist visas." She went on to claim that certain individuals were "overstaying" those legal limits, and asked: "Why isn't there a plan in place to catch that?"
NAUERT: Critics say it is a gaping hole that Washington needs to fix, and fix right now ... And let's remember some of those 9-11 hijackers were here on student visas and overstayed those student visas as well.
During the report, on-screen text falsely claimed the Senate's immigration reform proposal "gives no solution" to individuals overstaying their immigration visas:
In fact, the number of legal immigrants overstaying their visas declined by 73% between 2000 and 2009, thanks to the Department of Homeland Security's enhanced security measures in the years following the September 11, 2001 attacks. The immigration reform bill introduced in the Senate on April 17 is designed to speed that decline by implementing what Republican Senator Marco Rubio called "an effective entry and exit system."
Responding to questions about enforcement and temporary visas in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano described how provisions in the Senate immigration reform bill would "give us more measurements, more metrics, more identities, more things that we can use from a law enforcement purpose."
Boston bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev "initially escaped the notice of federal authorities on a six-month trip to Russia last year because his name was misspelled on his airline ticket," The Washington Post reported. But Napolitano pointed out that the proposed electronic monitoring system is designed to specifically address that problem, as it "does a good job of getting human error, to the extent it exists, out of the process."
CBS News reported that the bill's "modernized visa system" would monitor "the future traffic of immigrants during both departure and arrival to ensure that nobody overstays their welcome." The summary of the bill's framework further details that the success of the full proposal is "contingent upon our success in securing our border and addressing visa overstays" and requires "the completion of an entry-exit system that tracks whether all persons entering the United States on temporary visas via airports and seaports have left the country as required by law."
Fox News accused MA Gov. Deval Patrick of "playing politics" by refusing to release details of welfare benefits reportedly used by the Boston Marathon bombing suspects. But as Patrick has noted, state and federal law prevents the release of this information.
On April 24, an article in the right-leaning Boston Herald reported that the Boston Marathon bombing suspects had received some government assistance as children and that deceased suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev's family received some welfare benefits until 2012. The paper later reported that Massachusetts state officials had "clamped down the lid" on the Herald's requests for more details on Tamerlan Tsarnaev's government benefits.
Fox hosts seized on this to criticize Gov. Patrick on the April 26 edition of Fox & Friends. Co-host Steve Doocy said that "the governor told all the state agencies to clam up" and on-air text asked if Patrick is "playing politics."
Fox & Friends co-host Gretchen Carlson said:
CARLSON: Well, apparently Governor Deval Patrick of Massachusetts won't exactly explain what taxpayer assistance the bombers actually received because he says it's a matter of protecting their personal privacy. Well, that's interesting because one of those suspects is dead, and so what kind of personal privacy would be at hand to not be able to at least release what should be public knowledge if the taxpayers actually were financing these two people and their families for the last 10 years.
Fox failed to note that state and federal laws prohibit the government officials from releasing such information, a fact that Patrick had pointed out after facing questions about why the government had not released more details. On April 25, the Boston Herald reported:
Gov. Deval Patrick defended his administration's refusal to release financial aid, welfare, unemployment and other information about the suspected Boston Marathon bombers today.
"It's not about a right to privacy, it's about abiding by the law," said Patrick in Jamaica Plain today. "We'll do what we can do within the law. I'm curious, too. I understand people's curiosity."
Patrick added that he would be "happy" to release whatever information the law allows.
The Associated Press reported that the Massachusetts welfare agency later acknowledged that it had been a "mistake" to release the information to the media, saying it "inappropriately confirmed" media inquiries on the issue. The agency further stated: "Disclosing such information is not allowed by law. Regardless of the circumstances, we are obligated to follow state and federal law."
Fox News selectively edited comments by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to accuse him of exaggerating the effects of automatic budget cuts that began March 1. Fox's excerpt of Reid's call to end the cuts left out his description of specific impacts and ignored widespread media reporting that supports his statements.
Due to the across-the-board spending cuts, the National Institute of Health (NIH) will be forced reduce its budget by $1.5 billion and expects to award 1,000 fewer grants in 2013. Because approximately three-fifths, or $40.8 billion, of all university research funding in 2011 came from the federal government, this loss will be disruptive. Some disruptions have already begun.
On April 25, Fox & Friends aired a short clip from Sen. Reid's April 24 remarks to the Senate that called for an end to the arbitrary budget cuts. Although Reid prefaced the aired comments with a broader description of the impact that the mandatory budget cuts may have on education and the economy, Fox Business host Stuart Varney and Fox News host Steve Doocy chose to focus on just three sentences, accusing Reid of "desperate" exaggeration. Doocy claimed that Reid "essentially is saying Republicans want to kill people."
Fox's short excerpt of Reid's testimony omitted context in which Reid detailed specific examples of how the budget cuts may curb medical research. Here is a larger excerpt of Reid's statement [what Fox aired is bolded]:
Nationwide these across-the-board cuts will cost 750,000 jobs. They will cost us investments in education that keep America competitive. They will cost millions of seniors, children, veterans and needy families the safety net that keeps them from descending into poverty.
Most of the headlines are focused on the hours the sequester has cost travelers in airports across the nation. The frustration and the economic effects of those delays should not be minimized. But the sequester could also cost this country - and humankind - a cure for AIDS or Parkinson's disease or cancer.
These arbitrary cuts have decimated funding for medical researchers seeking cures for diabetes, epilepsy and hundreds of other dangerous and debilitating diseases. The National Institutes of Health has delayed or halted vital scientific projects and reduced the number of grants it awards to research scientists. Thousands of researchers will lose their jobs in the next few months. And projects that can't go on without adequate staffing will be cancelled altogether.
At Ohio State University, grants for cancer research and infectious disease control have been axed. At the University of Cincinnati - which is at the forefront in research on strokes, a leading cause of death in the United States - scientists are bracing for similar cuts. Vanderbilt University and the University of Kentucky are accepting fewer science graduate students because of funding reductions. At Wright State University, scientists researching pregnancy-related disorders such as preeclampsia will lose their jobs. Boston University has laid off lab scientists, and research laboratories in San Francisco have instituted hiring freezes and delayed the launch of important studies. And grants to some of Harvard University's most successful research scientists were not renewed because of the sequester.
This kind of research saves lives. These scientists are looking for the next successful treatment for Alzheimer's disease or the next drug to treat high cholesterol. But they might never get the chance to complete their groundbreaking work or make their life-saving discoveries because of these short-sighted cuts.
We have seen the devastating impacts of these arbitrary budget cuts. Now it's time to stop them.
News reports confirm the cuts to medical research highlighted in Reid's statement.
Fox News hosted a series of discredited anti-Islam activists to smear Muslims during Fox's coverage of the April 15 bombings at the Boston Marathon.
Right-wing media used a straw man argument to defend the Republican-led filibuster of a gun violence prevention bill, claiming that the legislation wouldn't have stopped the massacre at a school in Newtown, Connecticut, and ignoring that there are approximately 30,000 gun deaths in the U.S. each year.
On April 17, the U.S. Senate rejected gun violence prevention legislation that included a compromise amendment to expand background checks crafted by Democratic Senator Joe Manchin (WV) and Republican Senator Pat Toomey (PA).
An April 17 Wall Street Journal editorial dismissed the defeated bill as "a liberal wish-list that wouldn't have stopped the next mass murder." Likewise, Breitbart.com featured two blog posts that claimed that gun violence prevention legislation would not have stopped the school shooting in Newtown. In one of these posts, Breitbart.com went so far as to accuse President Obama of throwing a "tantrum" after the vote, saying that "he used the Newtown disaster--or, in the eyes of many critics, exploited it--to make an argument about the urgent need for new laws, even if such laws would not have prevented the Newtown atrocity itself."
Fox News contributor Charles Krauthammer made similar comments on the April 17 edition of Special Report with Bret Baier, saying that the proposal was "irrelevant" and "would not have" stopped the Newtown shooting:
KRAUTHAMMER: The question is, would it have had any effect on Newtown? If you're going to make all of these emotional appeals -- you saying you're betraying the families, you've got to show how if this had been law it would have stopped Newtown. It would not have. It is irrelevant.
Fox contributor Laura Ingraham went even further on the April 18 edition of her radio show, dismissing the bill by claiming that "criminals will be criminals":
INGRAHAM: The real things we can do to stop violent crime, we can actually have an economy that spins off jobs, have policies that don't encourage more lawlessness in our inner cities. Encourage families to stay together, fathers to stay with their, you know, the mothers of their children. All of these things. I mean we have a cultural and moral collapse in our society. You see it in many ways and many iterations of it. But we're supposed to believe that if only these background checks were in place, all -- Newtown wouldn't have happened, Aurora wouldn't have happened, Gabby Giffords wouldn't have been shot, none of this would have happened.
As Newtown parent Mark Barden explained in his April 17 statement at a White House press event, the argument that background checks would not have prevented the Newtown shooting is irrelevant, because the legislation's purpose was to save lives in the future:
Expanded background checks wouldn't have saved our loved ones, but still we came to support the bipartisan proposal from two senators, both with "A" ratings from the NRA -- a common-sense proposal supported by 90 percent of Americans. It's a proposal that will save lives without interfering with the rights of responsible, law-abiding gun owners.
Fox News' Greta Van Susteren pushed the right-wing talking point that regulation is "strangling" small businesses on Sunday, ignoring reports that have repeatedly debunked her theory.
On ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos, Van Susteren got into a debate with Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman over the effect that government regulation has on small businesses and the American job market. Though Krugman pointed out that Van Susteren's assertion is not backed up by the data, Van Susteren refused to give his explanation credence.
VAN SUSTEREN: We're strangling small businesses. I mean, you know everyone -- no one's paying much attention to these small businesses. The regulations that are strangling them, some of them are laughable and silly, but they have a profound impact on the job creators, those who are making jobs. They can't afford to hire people.
KRUGMAN: There's been tons, there's been tons of work on this. And what's holding small business back is not regulations, it's just the fact that they don't have sales.
VAN SUSTEREN: It's not all, it's some of it, some of it.
KRUGMAN: It's not. There's no correlation, looking across, you know which parts of the economy do small businesses complain about regulations and which don't they. There's no correlation between that and actual job creation.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Is there one exception perhaps, on the health care, where, firms that are greater than 50 people, have to pay more and that don't you see some firms cutting off at 49?
KRUGMAN: You really -- there might be. but you can't see that in the numbers. The overwhelming fact of the matter--
VAN SUSTEREN: Well If you talk to them, instead of looking at just the numbers, why don't you sit down and talk to these people, lot of them are struggling with this. They don't understand a lot of those things that happen. They don't understand a lot of the things that are happening in Washington. They're very cautious because they see a real dismal economy out there. And that doesn't --
KRUGMAN: If you actually talk to them, that's not what they say.
Despite Van Susteren's claims, Krugman's position has a strong foundation in official economic data as well as less formal anecdotes and survey responses from business owners.
Investment data refutes Susteren's claim that high regulatory environments tend to suppress growth. An Economic Policy Institute (EPI) analysis of the past four economic recoveries found that the slowest growth actually occurred during the deregulatory Bush administration:
Fox News' Steve Doocy suggested that Obama look to Texas as a model for economic growth, ignoring the fact that the state's high job growth doesn't translate to economic success for many Texans. Texas' economic problems include a median wage below the national average, one of the largest minimum wage workforces in the country, and the highest rate of adults without health insurance.
Fox News spent an entire week hyping a supposed "War on Easter," pointing to the decision made by a few school boards to hold "Spring egg hunt[s]" instead of Easter egg hunts. In seven days, Fox devoted 10 segments to what host Bill O'Reilly called the continued "war on Judeo-Christian tradition."
On March 21, O'Reilly lambasted President Obama and the White House for empowering "secular progressives" to pressure school districts around the country to eliminate terms like "Easter bunny" and "Easter egg." O'Reilly complained that "the war on Judeo-Christian tradition continues in some public school districts," citing districts in five states that he said "are having Spring egg events. Moderated by a Spring bunny":
O'REILLY: I know it's stupid. You know it's stupid. But it's happening, and there is a reason why it's happening. Secular progressives are running wild with President Obama in the White House. They feel unchained, liberated and they are trying to diminish any form of religion. The goal is to marginalize religious opposition to secular programs.
In the past week, several Fox shows followed O'Reilly's lead, airing segments that criticized the "P.C. police" and focused on "assaults" that have put Christianity "on the run in this country":
As Fox Business host John Stossel declared America's water pollution problem over, a new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) report found that more than half of America's rivers and streams are in poor condition because of pollution.
Stossel appeared on Tuesday's edition of The O'Reilly Factor to preview an anti-environmental episode called "Green Tyranny," and claimed that the problem of pollution in the U.S. was "largely solved" and no longer worth the use of government funding.
BILL O'REILLY (host): All right. So, that's Stossel jumping in the Hudson River, showing off and all of that. And your point to jump in the Hudson River was?
STOSSEL: That we need some environmental rules. Thank goodness, we've had some when I was a kid. You couldn't open a window in the city because soot would come in.
But they've cleaned up the water. So, it used to go -- 8 million people flushing, used to go straight in the Hudson River.
O'REILLY: All right. It doesn't do that anymore. It's treated and all of that. So, the Hudson -- I mean, I wouldn't be swimming there on a regular basis, Stossel. Your mustache is gonna falll off, all right?
Yeah, you can show up and jump in there for 10 seconds but, come on.
STOSSEL: It's pretty good. My point is that they spent several hundred million dollars.
O'REILLY: Cleaning up the river.
STOSSEL: Cleaning up the river and the air.
O'REILLY: Which was worth it though.
STOSSEL: Which was worth it.
STOSSEL: But stick a fork in it. It's done. They did a great job. The air -- every time somebody buys a new car, the air gets cleaner because the old cars pollute more. But government only grows. So, now, they're spending billions of dollars on --
O'REILLY: Are you saying that the pollution problem in this country is not worth the money they're spending on?
STOSSEL: Yes. I'm saying it's largely solved. And, now, we're giving money to rich movie actors, subsidies to buy $100,000 electric cars.
Despite Stossel's claims, an EPA report released on Tuesday found 55 percent of U.S. rivers and streams to be in "poor biological condition," based on an index that measures various aquatic creatures. The report also found that 23 percent of rivers and streams were in fair condition, and just under 21 percent were in good condition. The assessment was based on "the results of an unprecedented sampling effort undertaken by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and its state and tribal partners" collected in 2008 and 2009 at 1,924 sites across the country. From the EPA's report:
The EPA's "National Rivers and Streams Assessment" also determined that 9 percent of waterways studied posed a danger to human health. The Associated Press reported:
In 9 percent of rivers and streams, bacteria exceeded thresholds protective of human health. And mercury, which is toxic, was found in fish tissue along 13,000 miles of streams at levels exceeding health-based standards. Mercury occurs naturally but also can enter the environment from coal-burning power plants and from burning hazardous wastes.
The assessment raised red flags particularly in urban areas. According to the EPA, 26.9 percent of the urban sites tested -- 2,970 miles of the 11,002 -- exceed the EPA quality standards for mercury (300 parts per billion in fish tissue), and 11.6% contained concerning levels of PFCs, artificial chemicals used to make used for decades to make products that resist heat, oil, stains, grease, and water. From the EPA assessment: