Fox News gave credence to debunked conspiracy theories surrounding the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty, presenting outlandish fears about the treaty's potential effects on domestic gun policy as legitimate reason to oppose it.
Members of the United Nations are meeting this week to negotiate an international arms trade treaty, which would regulate the transnational transfer of weapons in an attempt to keep weapons from human rights abusers and war criminals.
America's Newsroom highlighted arguments for and against the U.S. joining the U.N. treaty, laying out how "critics" in the U.S. "fear that this new treaty will create international gun control, and that it will restrict American gun rights." Fox correspondent Eric Shawn uncritically explained how specific provisions in the treaty have caused some to fear it could create a gun registry and infringe upon the 2nd Amendment.
Fox then aired comments by an unidentified man furthering these conspiracies: "The treaty isn't clearly limited to the international arms trade. There are points in the draft treaty where it seems like it could apply to domestic arms sales and transfers inside the United States." Shawn noted how the National Rifle Association (NRA) also "strongly opposes" the treaty, believing it will restrict Americans' gun rights.
Rather than report on the merits of these conspiracy theories, Shawn explained that supporters of the treaty disagree with the NRA and argue the treaty is needed for various human rights reasons.
The treaty's actual language clearly explains that it does not dictate or impact nations' domestic affairs. The treaty's draft preamble says that a State party to this treaty "reaffirm[s] the sovereign right of any State to regulate and control conventional arms exclusively within its territory, pursuant to its own legal or constitutional systems."
Fox News ignored military testimony in order to claim that the proposed overhaul of Guantanamo Bay facilities is intended to improve conditions for alleged terrorists, when in fact U.S. troops would be the primary beneficiaries.
Earlier this week, General John Kelly, head of U.S. Southern Command, spoke before the House Armed Services Committee on the immediate need for upgrades to U.S. detention facilities in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Kelly testified that the proposed overhaul to the base would cost between $150-170 million and would, among other things, build a new dining facility, hospital, and barracks for U.S. troops stationed there. Gen. Kelly urged Congress to approve the expenditures, stating, "We need to take care of our troops."
Notably, as NPR reported, "Kelly said none of the projects are aimed at improving the 'lifestyle' of the detainees. But the improvements will increase security and improve the ease of movement for the detainees, which will benefit the guards by making their jobs less complicated."
Fox & Friends Saturday omitted any mention of how the proposed renovations would improve facilities for U.S. troops. Instead, guest-host Jesse Watters, a producer for The O'Reilly Factor, suggested that they were intended to better the lives of suspected terrorist detainees: "These are terrorists. They were living in caves in Afghanistan, in mud huts, basically. Now we're saying Guantanamo bay, a federal facility in the Caribbean is not good enough for these guys?"
MSNBC's Morning Joe selectively edited comments Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) gave in 2002 to assert that she was "beating the drums of war" in the run up to the Iraq war, but the highlighted comments come from a speech in which Pelosi urged Congress to vote against authorizing the use of force in Iraq.
During Morning Joe's coverage of the 10-year anniversary of the Iraq war, co-host Mika Brzezinski introduced a prepared video montage on how "it was a lot easier for some members of Congress to support the conflict before they were against it." Co-host Joe Scarborough provided the voice-over in the video, and claimed it showed how "the very same people who spent years beating up George Bush were the very ones beating the drum for Iraq's regime change and Saddam Hussein's ouster."
The video juxtaposes comments made by members of Congress purportedly "beating the drum for Iraq's regime change," against later comments by the same members of Congress criticizing President Bush over the war. One of the voices Scarborough highlights is Pelosi, shown in the video saying:
I applaud the President on focusing on this issue and on taking the lead to disarm Saddam Hussein.
But contrary to what Morning Joe implied, these comments come from a floor speech Pelosi gave in 2002 opposing the Iraq war, arguing that it would weaken the country by diverting resources from the war on terror (portion MSNBC aired in bold):
I come to this debate, Mr. Speaker, at the end of 10 years of service on the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, where stopping the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction was one of my top priorities. I applaud the President's focusing on this issue, and on taking the lead to disarm Saddam Hussein.
It is from the perspective of 10 years on the Intelligence Committee that I rise in opposition to this resolution on national security grounds. The clear and present danger that our country faces is terrorism. I say flat out that unilateral use of force without first exhausting every diplomatic remedy and other remedies and making a case to the American people will be harmful to our war on terrorism.
Pelosi concluded her speech by urging her House colleagues to vote "No" on the resolution authorizing the use of force in Iraq, as she did.
UPDATE: On the March 20th edition of Morning Joe, the hosts issued a correction and apologized for the mistake, showing the clip of Rep. Pelosi in full context and acknowledging her opposition to authorizing the use of force in Iraq in 2002.
National Review Online (NRO) and The Washington Examiner distorted last month's jobs report, which found the economy added 236,000 jobs in the month of February, to inaccurately claim more people left the labor force than found employment.
NRO and the Examiner contrasted February job creation totals with the change in the labor force -- a meaningless comparison -- in order to downplay the good news from the job creation figures. The Washington Examiner declared in an editorial titled "False hopes in the new employment numbers," "[M]ore Americans gave up looking for work and dropped out of the labor force last month (296,000) than took new jobs (260,000)." Similarly, NRO's blog, The Corner, wrote of the new jobs report:
By most historical measures, the jobs picture remains bleak. Sure, the unemployment rate ticked down. But as I noted Friday, if today's unemployment rate were measured against the same labor participation as when President Obama took office, it would be 10.7 percent.
But wait a minute, say Obama supporters, 260,000 jobs were created in February! Yes, seems encouraging. Until you realize that even more people -- 296,000 -- dropped out of the labor market entirely.
NRO and the Examiner are misleadingly comparing numbers from two different surveys. Indeed, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the economy added 236,000 jobs in the month of February. This figure comes from BLS' Current Employment Survey, a survey of over 400,000 worksites to determine the total number of jobs gained or lost during the month. In addition, BLS conducts a Current Population Survey of approximately 60,000 households to determine the unemployment rate. "There are a number of differences in how employment is counted in the two surveys," BLS clarified, and so often the surveys' findings differ.
So when the NRO and the Examiner compare the number of those who "dropped out of the labor force," a stat from CPS, to the monthly job creation, a stat from CES, the comparison is meaningless, as the surveys use different methodologies. In addition, they imply that the 296,000 not in the labor force is the number of people who were seeking work but have stopped looking for jobs. But retirees and teenagers not seeking work are included in the BLS' definition of those "not in the labor force," so this number includes people who had no intention of seeking work in the month of February:
Not in the labor force (Current Population Survey)
Includes persons aged 16 years and older in the civilian noninstitutional population who are neither employed nor unemployed in accordance with the definitions contained in this glossary. Information is collected on their desire for and availability for work, job search activity in the prior year, and reasons for not currently searching.
Fox's Sean Hannity hosted former Florida governor Jeb Bush and Clint Bolick to hype their new book on immigration reform -- but Hannity never acknowledged that the book marked a major reversal of Bush's stance on a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.
In their new book, Immigration Wars: Forging an American Solution, Bush and Bolick argue for an overhaul of U.S. immigration laws that does not include a pathway to citizenship for current undocumented immigrants. As The Huffington Post noted, Bush and Bolick wrote, "It is absolutely vital to the integrity of our immigration system that actions have consequences -- in this case, that those who violated the law can remain but cannot obtain the cherished fruits of citizenship."
But less than a year ago, Bush did advocate for a pathway to citizenship. As Talking Points Memo explained (emphasis original):
[Bush] told Charlie Rose in a June 2012 interview that he backed a path to citizenship, but would tolerate a lesser legal status for undocumented immigrants if necessary.
"You have to deal with this issue. You can't ignore it," Bush said at the time. "And so, either a path to citizenship, which I would support and that does put me probably out of the mainstream of most conservatives; Or a path to legalization, a path to residency of some kind, which now hopefully will become -- I would accept that in a heartbeat as well if that's the path to get us to where we need to be which is on a positive basis using immigration to create sustained growth."
Bush's co-author, Goldwater Institute director Clint Bolick, is also on the record backing a path to citizenship, writing in 2007 that such a policy was a critical prerequisite to bringing Latino voters to the GOP.
Hannity failed to acknowledge Bush's reversal -- even as he asked the co-authors about their proposal for a pathway to legalization, but not citizenship, for undocumented immigrants.
Bill O'Reilly implied that President Obama is responsible for a 75 percent increase in federal spending over the past decade. But federal spending has increased only 18.8 percent under Obama -- and it increased 66 percent under President George W. Bush.
On his Fox program, O'Reilly focused his opening segment on how history will "evaluate President Obama." He aired the following chart on the change in federal spending between 2003 and 2013:
O'Reilly went on to claim that the increase in spending has not benefited the economy, but was implemented by Obama in an attempt to appeal to Hispanic voters. Pointing to a recent Pew Research Center poll question on the role of the federal government, O'Reilly concluded, "That's why President Obama is spending the money, because he knows that a coalition of African-Americans, Hispanic Americans, organized labor, and committed liberals will overwhelm the Republican party."
O'Reilly is picking an arbitrary date two years into Bush's first term and attempting to attribute Bush's spending increases to Obama.
Fox & Friends Sunday hosted a small business owner to disparage the Affordable Care Act without disclosing his membership in the anti-health care reform group National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB).
Co-hosts Clayton Morris and Tucker Carlson identified their guest David McArthur only as a "small business owner" while interviewing him about the impact the Affordable Care Act might have on his small bakery in St. Louis. Morris asked, "Do you feel that these plans, Obamacare specifically, limit growth in this country and [are] holding back the economy, because small business owners like yourself are afraid to hire and afraid to grow?" McArthur replied, "Well, certainly it does."
The NFIB was the lead plaintiff suing to overturn the Affordable Care Act before the Supreme Court. In a post titled "The Group Trying To Kill Obamacare," Salon.com's Alex Seitz-Wald reported that the group spent at least $2.9 million in 2010 alone working to overturn the law. The Huffington Post reported that the NFIB "received 10 donations totaling more than $10 million from anonymous donors" in 2010 and 2011, in addition to $3.7 million in funding from Karl Rove's Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies. The Huffington Post also reported that the organization's "multimillion-dollar independent expenditures and campaign donations have benefited almost exclusively Republicans."
This is not the first time Fox has hosted undisclosed NFIB members to criticize the Affordable Care Act.
In July 2012, Fox & Friends hosted small business owner Mike Paine to attack the health care reform law without disclosing his membership in the organization. Prior to that, NFIB member and small business owner Joe Olivo appeared on Fox News and Fox Business at least six times to criticize the Affordable Care Act, without disclosure of his membership.
Conservative media are attacking President Obama for supposedly criticizing scheduled across-the-board cuts, known as the sequester, while not proposing alternatives to avoid them. In reality, Obama has proposed a plan to replace the sequester that includes over $930 billion in spending cuts and $580 billion in new tax revenue.
Fox News suggested that unemployment benefits and other government assistance programs contribute to the nation's unemployment numbers, and even claimed that people are quitting their jobs to become eligible for benefits. In truth, unemployment benefits stimulate the economy and create jobs.
Reporting on news that jobless claims dropped by 27,000 last week, America's Newsroom host Bill Hemmer wondered if "government programs might be keeping unemployment rates higher than they should actually be." Fox correspondent Doug McKelway answered that "some small business owners" say that "it's not unusual at all for people to quit work these days, because they know they can get more from unemployment and other benefits than from hard work." He continued, "Americans are not working as much today, and there is ample evidence that it's not just an economy stuck in neutral but it may be the increasing government incentive not to work."
Despite Hemmer and McKelway's claims, studies show that unemployment benefits stimulate the economy and create jobs. In 2010, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) determined that increasing aid to the unemployed would have a bigger impact on the economy than reducing taxes. The Economic Policy Institute's Lawrence Mishel explained that unemployment insurance is "such good stimulus" because "virtually every dollar spent on extending unemployment insurance benefits goes directly, and immediately, toward the purchase of local goods and services, providing an extremely efficient demand boost." And near the end of 2012, CBO concluded that extending unemployment benefits through 2013 would create 300,000 more new jobs than would otherwise be created.
What's more, the notion that one could quit work in order to receive unemployment benefits is nonsensical -- In order to be eligible for unemployment insurance (UI), the Labor Department makes clear, you must be "unemployed through no fault of your own (determined under State law)." And importantly, as CBO explained, "To maintain eligibility for benefits while unemployed, UI recipients must search for a new job and, in some states, must accept a reasonable job offer."
After glossing over state Republicans' role in exacerbating long lines at the ballot box, three Fox hosts mocked the hours-long wait and multiple trips a 102-year-old woman endured in order to cast her vote in 2012.
On Fox News Radio's Kilmeade & Friends, host Brian Kilmeade and Fox's Martha MacCallum and Bill Hemmer laughed off the difficulties 102-year-old Desiline Victor endured in order to vote in the 2012 election. Victor, who was invited to the State of the Union address and whom President Obama applauded for enduring a long wait to vote, had to make two trips to the polls and wait in line for over three hours before she was able to cast her ballot. Discussing Victor, MacCallum wondered, "What's the big deal?" and said, "This is such a non-issue. Ridiculous." Hemmer added that at the State of the Union, "They held her up as a victim. What was she a victim of?"
But long lines at polling places are widely acknowledged as a major issue nationwide. In Victor's home state of Florida alone, at least 201,000 eligible voters reportedly did not cast ballots because they were discouraged by lengthy wait times.
Earlier, on MacCallum and Hemmer's show America's Newsroom, Fox correspondent Eric Shawn reported on proposals to extend early voting to ease the problem of long lines at the polls. Shawn noted that Florida had the longest polling place lines in 2012, and then played a clip of Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner addressing Florida's issues, stating that Detzner is "working on ways to fix the problems," including an extension of the state's early voting period in order to shorten voters' wait.
Shawn failed to reveal, however, that Detzner played a role in exacerbating this problem in Florida.