Fox News and Rush Limbaugh are teaming up to demonize the Food and Drug Administration's decision to lower the age requirement for access to over-the-counter emergency contraception, ignoring both the science behind the drug and the FDA's assessment that younger women can handle the responsibility of taking the medication.
On America's Newsroom, Fox's senior managing editor for health news, Dr. Manny Alvarez, attacked the FDA's decision to allow 15-year-olds to purchase the medication. He claimed emergency contraception decisions should be left up to the parents because, "Since when is a 15-year-old child a woman? Now give me a break."
Alvarez went on to claim that a 15-year-old is unable to understand the possible side effects of Plan B. Host Martha MacCallum stated, "Look at the list of warnings on this thing," prompting Alvarez to argue:
It reads like the Constitution. There's so many, you know, possibilities, probabilities, percentages. You're going to tell me a 15-year-old girl -- and who could even buy it and give it to a 14-year-old or 13-year-old -- is going to understand all the potential side effects? And what they should do after if they have any of the symptoms?
Later, MacCallum fearmongered over whether Plan B could result in long-term fertility problems, wondering, "Who knows what the long-lasting implications of using it in that way are? When this girl decides she wants to have a baby a few years down the road?" Alvarez did not take the bait, telling MacCallum: "I'm not arguing that this has some mild to moderate side effects -- not terrible side effects."
Aside from the fact that the "children" seeking emergency contraception are of reproductive age, Alvarez's allegations have been explicitly discredited by FDA research. The agency conclusively determined that a 15-year-old is able to understand the side effects and consequences of Plan B after conducting research on this question when determining whether to make the drug available to this age group without a prescription. FDA commissioner Margaret Hamburg, MD explained (emphasis added):
The Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER) completed its review of the Plan B One-Step application and laid out its scientific determination. CDER carefully considered whether younger females were able to understand how to use Plan B One-Step. Based on the information submitted to the agency, CDER determined that the product was safe and effective in adolescent females, that adolescent females understood the product was not for routine use, and that the product would not protect them against sexually transmitted diseases. Additionally, the data supported a finding that adolescent females could use Plan B One-Step properly without the intervention of a healthcare provider.
Rush Limbaugh expressed disgust that his homophobic views aren't treated with tolerance during a rant over a male professional athlete coming out as gay.
This week NBA center Jason Collins became the first male openly gay player in a major American sport, revealing in an April 29 Sports Illustrated story:
I'm a 34-year-old NBA center. I'm black. And I'm gay.
On his radio program April 30, Limbaugh bemoaned the fact that Collins' sexual preference was even a topic of conversation, as people have "gay-news fatigue." He asked repeatedly, "Why does [being gay] have to be rammed down our throats?":
LIMBAUGH: Folks, I grew up in a family where people's sexual orientation preferences, whatever, weren't even discussed. Why - why can't - why can't everybody just put your sexual preferences on Facebook and call it a day? What do we need to stop everything and have a national day of celebration - or mourning, depending on your view - recognition, or whatever, about this.
If you're like everybody else, they're sick of hearing this. They've got gay-news fatigue. Alright, we got it. Just put it up on Facebook and forget it. Why does it have to be rammed down our throats, figuratively speaking? Why does this have to be thrust at us?
Limbaugh then launched into a heated tirade about society's intolerance of his homophobic views. He complained that just because he's "not big on that" -- people identifying as gay -- he's labeled a bigot, racist, extremist, and a homophobe:
LIMBAUGH: And this tolerance, you know, it only goes one way. So, Person X of some national stature announces his sexual orientation is gay. And, applause. 'Great day for America. We're really taking giant leaps ahead.' If anybody says, 'You know, I'm not big on that.' 'You bigot! You - You - You racist! You - you extremist! You - you - you homophobe!' There is no tolerance at all here. Not only do these people have to publicly announce, everybody else has to applaud and accept it. My point the other day about how it's only us conservatives who are divisive. You know, I'm one of the most loving, unifying, want everybody to do well, like everybody, hope everybody has a great life-kind of guy you'll ever run into. But because I'm not a liberal, I'm called divisive. Liberals are never divisive. You know why that is? 'Cause to them, liberalism is just status quo. Anything that's not liberal is divisive. So, liberals believe this country has been racist, sexist, bigoted, homophobic, and now we're making great strides.
At the close of his program, Limbaugh expressed his respect for ESPN's Chris Broussard, a reporter who called homosexuality an "open rebellion" against God when he was asked during an appearance on ESPN about his views on Collins. Limbaugh told a caller, "I really respect him for saying it."
Listen to more of Limbaugh's rant on Collins' announcement:
Fox News' Brit Hume is continuing the network's effort to rehabilitate the Bush family name by lavishing praise on Jeb Bush, a potential 2016 presidential nominee.
Fox spent the week of the George W. Bush Presidential Library dedication lionizing Bush's tenure and whitewashing the effects of his policies; several hosts even bragged that Bush "kept the country safe" from terrorists after the September 11 attacks. From Fox & Friends to America's Newsroom, Fox uncritically allowed former Bush officials to spin Bush's record on fiscal discipline as probably "the best track record of any modern president," and to falsely claim that he helped grow the economy despite "inheriting a recession." According to a Media Matters review, 71 percent of Fox's guest appearances about President Bush's library and legacy were by former Bush White House personnel.
Now Fox's senior political analyst Hume is turning the Bush rehabilitation effort toward President Bush's younger brother and former Florida governor Jeb Bush.
Appearing on Fox News Sunday on April 28, Hume discussed whether Jeb Bush should run for president in 2016, remarking, "The country may indeed be ready for another Bush." The next day on America's Newsroom, host Martha MacCallum asked Hume about his comment. Hume responded by lavishing praise on the younger Bush, saying, "a great many political observers had identified Jeb as ... the most gifted natural politician among the lot of them." He continued:
HUME: I think it is the fact that Jeb Bush is an especially gifted political figure. He's a disarming personality. He's highly articulate. He's deeply versed in policy, especially domestic policy. He has a connection to the Hispanic community. His wife is Hispanic. He speaks the language. He showed that when he was governor of Florida. He was a successful and generally popular governor of Florida. So he's got a lot going for him.
Rush Limbaugh is criticizing Vice President Joe Biden for praising Americans for their resilience in the face of terrorism after the tragic Boston marathon bombings.
Speaking at Time magazine's 100 gala, Biden stated:
If the purpose of terror is to instill fear, you saw none of that in Boston ... [T]he only way terrorism wins is if we change our way of life, if we yield ... Our message to terrorists is you cannot break us, you can't change us. We will never yield. We will not be intimidated.
During his April 24 radio broadcast, Limbaugh attacked Biden for these comments, calling them "typical Biden" and wondering if the vice president was drunk. Limbaugh suggested that Biden's praise was misplaced because police put Boston and surrounding communities on lockdown during the manhunt for suspected bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev:
LIMBAUGH: Was the vice president a little overindulgent in adult beverages or was he joking? ... We watched a major American metropolitan area of more than one million people on lockdown. A million people were told to stay home from work, stay home from school. To shelter in place. Do not go outside. Boston's subways, buses, cabs, even Amtrak service was halted. They cancelled a Bruins game. They cancelled a Red Sox game. I saw a lot of lives change. What was Biden watching? They shut down an entire city! They had the - these two terrorists had the city fathers telling everybody, 'Don't go outside. Stay in there - Don't you dare go outside. Don't answer the door. Stay right -' They had people cowering in fear in the corners of their own homes. And the vice president says, 'The only way terrorism wins is if we change our way of life, if we yield. And we didn't yield. And we didn't change our way of life. And they didn't break us. And they didn't change us. And they can't, and we will never yield.' What was he watching? I saw a lot of lives being changed.
Rush Limbaugh claimed that the government only arrested suspect Paul Kevin Curtis for allegedly sending ricin-tainted letters to government officials because he was a white southerner. But the letters were signed with Curtis' initials and catch phrase.
Curtis, who is from Mississippi, was arrested last week for allegedly mailing letters containing the poison ricin to President Obama, Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS), and Lee County, Mississippi Justice Court judge Sadie Holland. Though his case is still pending, Curtis was released from federal custody on bond after investigators failed to find evidence of ricin in Curtis' possession.
Limbaugh interpreted his release as evidence that authorities merely arrested Curtis because they wanted the ricin suspect to be a white southerner. He told listeners, "You know the ricin letters that were sent? The drive-bys so desperately wanted the culprit to be a hayseed, hick southerner, so they went out and found this poor guy from Mississippi and they accused him of it," and concluded, "They really wanted the ricin guy to be a white southern guy and not a dark-skinned something-or-other."
Details of Curtis' release are still unclear, but court documents reveal the FBI followed credible evidence -- not based on his skin color -- to connect Curtis with the tainted letters.
As the AP reported, FBI agent Brandon Grant explained at Curtis' hearing:
Grant testified Friday that authorities tried to track down the sender of the letters by using a list of Wicker's constituents with the initials KC, the same initials in the letters. Grant said the list was whittled from thousands to about 100 when investigators isolated the ones who lived in an area that would have a Memphis, Tenn., postmark, which includes many places in north Mississippi. He said Wicker's staff recognized Curtis as someone who had written the senator before.
According to the criminal complaint against Curtis, as ABC News reported, each ricin letter was signed "This is KC and I approve this message," a phrase Curtis frequently used in internet postings and other letters.
Hours after it was debunked, Glenn Beck continued to beat the drum of a conspiracy theory that the Obama administration is deporting a Saudi national who was behind the tragic bombings at the Boston marathon.
The conspiracy theory arose when Steve Emerson, a guest on Fox News' Hannity, accused the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) of preparing to deport a Saudi national "person of interest" in the bombings at the Boston marathon. Right-wing blogs like Glenn Beck's The Blaze, Breitbart.com, WND, and Infowars quickly latched on to the story, alleging President Obama wishes to cover up Saudi Arabian and Al Qaeda ties to the attack.
The myth pretends that a Saudi national who was hospitalized after sustaining injuries in the bombing -- initially reported to be a "person of interest," though he never was -- is the same man DHS is allegedly in the process of deporting for visa violations.
DHS soundly discredited the conspiracy theory this afternoon, explaining to CNN's Jake Tapper that the rumors are confusing two very different men.
Still, hours later, Beck continued to run with the debunked conspiracy on his television program, claiming his "sources" knew better (emphasis added):
We at the Blaze know that this Saudi national is a bad, bad, bad man ... This administration is playing an extraordinarily dangerous game. They have very little regard for what it takes to be a citizen. Before the sequester cuts happened, they opened the prison and let illegals out. Who does that? Remember also, the Saudi national that was -- is about to get on a plane -- involved in blowing the legs off of American citizens, being held in protective custody or being protected, at least, by our administration. He will be put in protective custody and the plans are to deport him.
Beck's claims, of course, are far from true.
When confronted with the fact that a majority of the nation's gun owners support expanded background checks for gun purchases, Fox anchor Bret Baier hid behind the National Rifle Association (NRA) to allege that such support does not exist.
The NRA has lobbied aggressively against a bipartisan proposal in the Senate that would have expanded background checks on gun show and online gun purchases. Among other efforts, they spent $500,00 in one day -- the day the Senate voted on the bill -- on ads calling the proposal "Obama's gun ban," according to the New York Times.
The background check proposal failed to pass the Senate, a result Fox contributor Juan Williams lamented on Special Report, stressing how even "gun owners say, 'Yes, it's a good thing' ":
WILLIAMS: It's like a tragedy ... the U.S. Senate can't take action on simple background checks that overwhelmingly the American people, in poll after poll, say that it's a good idea, it would be a good thing. Gun owners say, 'Yes, it's a good thing.' But again, the power of big money, the NRA, and the gun manufacturers has carried the day. So let's look at the record then--
BAIER: Well, hold on. Gun owners overall don't say that. You mentioned the NRA. They say this. (emphasis added)
Baier then read the NRA's statement opposing the Senate bill, which asserts that "[e]xpanding background checks, at gun shows or elsewhere, will not reduce violent crime or keep our kids safe in schools."
Despite Baier's claim, the NRA's view are contrary to that of the majority of gun owners on this issue. In February 2013, the Pew Research Center determined that gun owners overwhelmingly support expanded background checks. Pew found the number to be:
The vast majority of gun owners have repeatedly expressed their approval of more background checks. At the beginning of the year, a Quinnipiac University poll showed 91 percent of gun owners were in support; in March, they found that number to be little changed, with 85 percent of gun owners in favor of universal background checks.
Fox News reported that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found 679 renewable energy initiatives to be overlapping -- but the GAO only stated that 679 was the number of such initiatives that existed in 2010; further, the GAO explicitly stated that it could not evaluate whether the programs overlapped.
In the GAO's 2013 annual report, which seeks to identify wasteful and overlapping federal government programs, the office determined that "23 agencies and their 130 subagencies implemented 679 renewable energy initiatives in fiscal year 2010."
Fox's Special Report, however, claimed that all 679 of these programs were duplicative and wasteful. Host Bret Baier reported: "Fox has obtained the results of a new GAO report finding 162 areas of duplication or wasteful spending, adding almost $100 billion a year on top of a larger amount from two previous reports. Renewable energy programs topped them all with 679 overlapping programs."
This characterization is actually contradicted by the report itself. While the report found that a handful of wind initiatives may have "provided duplicative support," the GAO specifically stated that the office "could not comprehensively assess the potential for overlap or duplication" among the renewable energy initiatives:
Although GAO examined characteristics, such as energy source and recipient type, for the nearly 700 renewable energy initiatives identified in its February 2012 report, GAO could not comprehensively assess the potential for overlap or duplication among the initiatives because existing agency information was not sufficiently complete to allow for such an assessment.
Fox's falsehood echoes a release from Republican Senator Tom Coburn that also claims 679 renewable energy initiatives were found to be duplicative.
Fox News is blasting Beyoncé and Jay-Z for traveling to Cuba in light of U.S. sanctions against the country -- but the network previously published articles with advice and tips on traveling to Cuba.
Under current sanctions against Cuba, an American citizen can obtain a "people-to-people" license from the Treasury Department -- which requires visitors to take tours that are strictly educational -- in order to travel to the country. Last week, singers Jay-Z and Beyoncé spent their anniversary in Havana, Cuba, after reportedly gaining such authorization, according to Reuters.
This visit drew the ire of Fox & Friends -- co-host Gretchen Carlson said, "[T]he trip appears to be just a vacation going against a 51-year travel embargo. So what is Hollywood's obsession with Havana?" Co-host Steve Doocy wondered, "Why would they spend money in a place where Cubans are being beaten and arrested for disagreeing with the Castros and the government?"
The Five co-hosts also criticized the couple for traveling to Cuba -- co-host Dana Perino asked, "Whose idea was this initially?" while co-host Bob Beckel said the two were traveling to "a racist country" and concluded, "I don't get it."
But a few years ago, Fox's website detailed "a few points to keep in mind if you're considering traveling to Cuba legally." In an article reporting on President Obama's reinstating the "people-to-people" exchange, FoxNews.com laid out helpful hints to readers on how to take advantage of the program, concluding, "there's no better time to book a trip."
Fox News' on-screen text misleadingly identified Rev. Luis Leon as the "Obama pastor" after President Obama attended worship services at Leon's St. John's Church, contradicting Fox's own reporting. The Fox text echoed other right-wing media attempts to attack the president for attending a sermon that referenced political issues, even while Fox News host Megyn Kelly admitted dozens of presidents have attended Leon's services.
Obama and his family attended Easter Sunday services at St. John's Church, known as "The Church of the Presidents." According to church history, every president since James Monroe has attended worship services at the church, which even has a "Presidential Pew" reserved for the president's use when he's attending. The Obamas are not members of the church.
During this year's Easter sermon, St. John's Reverend Luis Leon touched on politics and "the religious right," prompting Fox's Megyn Kelly to host a debate on the appropriateness of Leon's comments. Kelly acknowledged that dozens of presidents have attended St. John's services and noted that Rev. Leon previously delivered the invocations at the second inaugurations of both Presidents George W. Bush and Obama.
But even as Kelly spoke, text aired on screen dismissed her words and deemed Rev. Leon to be the "Obama Pastor":
Fox's text echoes the trumped-up relationship also pushed by Fox Nation and other right-wing media.