Conservative media are pushing selectively cropped footage of Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and General Martin Dempsey as evidence that President Obama was "AWOL" the night of the Benghazi attack. In reality, Panetta and Dempsey emphasized that Obama's involvement was appropriate and that the White House was kept "well-informed" throughout the night.
After outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta testified before Congress on the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, The Weekly Standard selectively cropped a portion of his testimony and blogged that Panetta found Obama to be "absent" the night of the assault. The Weekly Standard's attack on Obama subsequently made the conservative media rounds to Fox Nation, The Drudge Report, The Daily Caller, Breitbart.com, and Fox News.
In its post titled "Panetta: Obama Absent Night of Benghazi," where this smear seemingly originated, The Weekly Standard highlighted Sen. Kelly Ayotte's (R-NH) questions to Panetta as proof of Obama's absence:
AYOTTE: Did you have any further communications with him that night?
AYOTTE: Did you have any further communications - did he ever call you that night to say, "How are things going? What's going on? Where's the consulate?"
PANETTA: No, but we were aware that as we were getting information on what was taking place there, particularly when we got information that the ambassador, his life had been lost - we were aware that that information went to the White House.
AYOTTE: Did you communicate with anyone else at the White House that night?
AYOTTE: No one else called you to say, "How are things going?"
Fox News' Eric Bolling selectively cropped footage of Sen. Dianne Feinstein discussing her proposed ban on assault weapons in an attempt to claim she flip-flopped on gun control.
On The Five, the co-hosts took up the topic of Feinstein's new proposed legislation to ban semi-automatic assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition clips. Bolling aired a one sentence from Feinstein's press conference introducing the assault weapons ban, in which she said, "Our weak gun laws allow these mass killings to be carried out again and again and again in our country." Bolling then claimed, "But the senator wasn't always so anti-gun." The next video showed Feinstein in 1995 testifying before the Senate, in which she explained she once carried a concealed weapon for self-defense after being targeted by terrorists.
Bolling declared that this was "a perfect example of political hypocrisy."
A look at Feinstein's full press conference disproves Bolling's claim. In the portion of her remarks Bolling chose not to air, Feinstein emphasized (at about 5:25 in the video): "[In the bill] we have tried to recognize legal hunting rights. We have tried to recognize legal defense rights. We have tried to recognize the right of a citizen to legally possess a weapon. No weapon is taken from anyone. The purpose is to dry up the supply of these weapons over time.
As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton prepares to testify before Congress about the September 11 attack on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, Media Matters reviews the falsehoods conservative media have pushed regarding Clinton and her response to the attack.
When Dana Loesch appeared on CNN's Piers Morgan Tonight to discuss efforts to strengthen gun laws, Piers Morgan introduced her as a "conservative radio talk-show host," but didn't identify her as a CNN contributor. CNN hired Loesch as a political contributor in early 2011, but has been absent from the network in recent months.
When CNN hired Loesch, it said she would "appear across the network's prime time programs, as well as other dayparts and platforms" as part of election season coverage. But in the summer of 2012, when election season was in full swing, Loesch disappeared from CNN. She was on three times in June, twice in July, and did not appear again until her interview with Piers Morgan on Wednesday, according to a search of the Nexis database.
Without any official announcement, CNN reportedly suspended Loesch soon after she defended U.S. Marines accused of urinating on the dead bodies of Taliban forces, saying, "I'd drop trou and do it too." Her comment was widely condemned, including by CNN journalists. (By coincidence, one of the Marines involved in the incident pleaded guilty at a court-martial on Wednesday.)
In December, Loesch reportedly filed a lawsuit against Breitbart.com claiming that the site refuses to publish her work or allow it to be published elsewhere. Loesch was formerly identified as editor-in-chief of Breitbart's Big Journalism site.
Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace allowed Bill Kristol to attack the nomination of Chuck Hagel as defense secretary without disclosing that Kristol is currently waging a full-scale campaign to oppose the nominee. Wallace further failed to challenge Kristol on his previous support of Hagel until he publicly supported a withdrawal from the Iraq War.
Fox News contributor Bill Kristol has been leading a relentless attack campaign against former Republican senator Chuck Hagel, President Obama's nominee for defense secretary. During television appearances and on his site The Weekly Standard, Kristol is actively encouraging the Senate to block Hagel's nomination. The Emergency Committee for Israel, a political advocacy group Kristol founded, has even launched an anti-Hagel website complete with attack ads.
Yet on Fox News Sunday, host Chris Wallace asked Kristol to opine on Hagel's nomination without any mention of his advocacy to prevent Hagel from becoming defense secretary. After saying Hagel is a "controversial pick for defense secretary," Wallace directed Kristol: "Your comments on Hagel?" Kristol replied, "I don't think Chuck Hagel is the right man to be secretary of defense. We'll see if the United [States] Senate agrees with that." Kristol opposes the nomination on the false grounds that Hagel is hostile to Israel and sympathetic to Iran.
Kristol even interjected Hagel attacks into unrelated conversations.
Fox News continually mocked Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for having to postpone her testimony on the attack in Benghazi, Libya, because of health problems relating to a concussion. Clinton was recently hospitalized due to a blood clot in her head, which ABC News reported was "potentially 'life-threatening.' "
As The Wall Street Journal noted, the New York Post originally editorialized that Clinton's concussion was a "head fake." But after news of the blood clot came to light, the Post, also owned by Fox News parent company News Corp., reversed its tone and declared that "a full recovery is what's important now." Will Fox News follow suit?
Here is a video of Fox News figures ridiculing Clinton's health problems over the past several weeks:
Fox News figures have tried to use an investigative panel's recent report on the Benghazi attack to congratulate their network on its coverage of the attack. But the report actually debunks several incorrect and misleading narratives Fox pushed about Benghazi.
On December 18, the independent Accountability Review Board, which was set up by the State Department to investigate the Benghazi attack, released their findings in a report that "sharply criticized the State Department" for oversights that led to insufficient security at the U.S. compound in Benghazi, as The New York Times reported.
During the December 19 broadcast of On The Record, host Greta Van Susteren asked Fox News contributor Sarah Palin for her thoughts on the report, and Palin answered, in part, "Kudos to Fox News for being the news outlet that stayed on top of this story. Americans deserve these answers." Van Susteren responded that she felt "some level of pride" for Fox's Benghazi coverage, because of "all the sort of heat we took from people, saying that it wasn't a story." She added, "[T]here's been a lot of resistance to my national security colleagues getting this information. So, I do take some pride with them."
Similarly, Fox contributor Kirsten Powers suggested on Special Report that the Benghazi report wasn't even necessary because of the program's coverage of the attack, saying, "Well, it's interesting that that report -- you could have known all that if you'd just watched this show. So, it's sort of funny that they had to do an investigation to figure all of that out."
In fact, the review board's report actually discredits Fox's coverage of the attack.
Days after 20 children and six adults were killed in a school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, Rush Limbaugh used the tragedy in invoking a debunked conspiracy theory alleging the Obama administration launched Operation Fast and Furious in order to pass stricter gun-control legislation.
On Tuesday, Limbaugh rehashed the theory that Fast and Furious, a gun-running operation intended to track drug traffickers, was a nefarious plot to get criminals guns in the hope that the resulting violence would lead to public support for stronger gun-control laws. Limbaugh claimed that the "plan" behind Fast and Furious was to "create a bunch of gun violence with American guns, bought legally and therefore easily, and outrage the American people." He then said, "Let me be blunt. The objective of Fast and Furious was to create the very emotional pitch people experienced after what happened in Newtown on Friday. That is exactly what Fast and Furious was intended to do, was to create that kind of reaction all over the country."
Fast and Furious was a botched operation run by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) that "allowed a gun trafficking ring to buy hundreds of weapons and send them to Mexico as part of an investigative tactic," as The New York Times reported. Unfortunately, officials "eventually lost track of hundreds of weapons," including two that were found near the site where a Border Patrol agent was killed.
Although conservative media pushed the conspiracy theory that the operation was part of an Obama administration plot to push gun control, an independent investigation into Fast and Furious soundly debunked such claims. The Department of Justice's Office of the Inspector General found "no evidence that the agents responsible for the cases had improper motives or were trying to accomplish anything other than dismantling a dangerous firearms trafficking organization." The OIG report specifically noted there was no link between the operation and plans to regulate firearms, stating they found "no evidence that ATF Phoenix initiated the investigation in order to facilitate efforts to obtain long gun legislation."
Rush Limbaugh charged that White House press secretary Jay Carney used language on "disabled children" during his explanation of President Obama's budget proposal in order to evoke the tragic mass shootings in Newtown, Connecticut. But Carney has used the example of parents with disabled children for months when explaining how Obama's tax plan would benefit vulnerable groups.
During the December 17 White House press briefing, a reporter asked Carney about the status of budget negotiations between Obama and House Speaker John Boehner. On his radio program, Limbaugh accused Carney of referring to the Sandy Hook shooting by listing "parents with disabled children" among the groups who could be harmed by a continued lack of balance in tax rates.
Limbaugh further accused Carney of "politicizing" the shooting by claiming "Parents with disabled children now get thrown into the mix. I wonder why? So now we have to raise taxes on the rich for a new reason. So there is not an undue tax burden on parents with disabled children, which would include mentally disabled, which is meant to mean Adam Lanza-type children."
But Limbaugh ignored the fact that Carney has been explicitly citing the tax burden on families with disabled children for at least two months when explaining President Obama's budget proposals. In his remarks today, Carney stated: "Thus far, the president's proposal is the only proposal that we have seen that achieves the balance that's so necessary. And the balance is so important because a plan that does not have it puts unduly the burden on senior citizens, through - or on middle-class Americans, or on parents with disabled children. And that is not acceptable."
Gun researcher John Lott has made numerous media appearances in the wake of the mass shooting in Newtown, Conn. to argue against the enactment of gun violence prevention measures. While Lott uses his media platform to push a multitude of statistics -- often from his own research -- he has been thoroughly discredited as a serious academic researcher.