NBC and ABC's Sunday news shows turned to discredited architects of the Iraq War to opine on the appropriate U.S. response to growing violence in Iraq, without acknowledging their history of deceit and faulty predictions.
This week a Sunni Iraqi militant group (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS) seized control of several Iraqi cities and is focusing their sights on taking control of Baghdad and the rest of the country. The United States is still debating a response to the escalating violence, and has reportedly moved an aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf.
To discuss the growing unrest and potential threat of terrorism that could emerge, NBC's Meet The Press turned to Paul Wolfowitz, the former Deputy Secretary of Defense under the Bush administration.
Wolfowitz, who served in the Bush administration from 2001 -- 2005 as Deputy Secretary of Defense, is universally recognized as one of the original architects of the Iraq invasion. He infamously predicted the war reconstruction effort could pay for itself from Iraqi oil revenue (for reference, the cost of the Iraq War is now estimated to be more than $2 trillion), and publicly accused Saddam Hussein of possessing weapons of mass destruction long after the intelligence community informed the Pentagon that he did not. Later, Wolfowitz claimed that the conflict was primarily about liberating the Iraqi people rather than confronting the WMD threat, while also making the assertion -- without evidence -- that without the invasion, "we would have had a growing development of Saddam's support for terrorism."
Ten years after the start of the war, Wolfowitz admitted that the Bush administration bungled the conflict and should never have taken control of the country away from Iraqi leadership, despite having been the first senior Bush official after September 11, 2001 to call for Hussein's overthrow.
And on June 15 from his NBC platform, Wolfowitz opined that the current Iraqi violence could be traced to the absence of U.S. troops, suggesting that we should have stayed in Iraq just as we "stuck with South Korea for 60 years." When Meet The Press host David Gregory asked the former Bush official for advice on how to mitigate the potential terrorist threat merging from ISIS, saying "what do you do then, as a policy matter, to stop this," Wolfowitz responded that the Obama administration must convince the Middle East that the U.S. "is serious," arguing, "I would do something in Syria."
That same day ABC's This Week invited network contributor and Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol to discuss how the U.S. should handle the growing violence in Iraq, a notable decision given Kristol's poor record on Iraq War predictions.
Just two weeks of Fox News' Benghazi coverage is worth over $124 million, according to a Media Matters study.
Fox's coverage of the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya went into overdrive in the wake of House Speaker John Boehner's (R-OH) announcement on May 2 that Republicans would form a select committee to further investigate the tragedy. The decision marked a victory for the network, which has dedicated months -- and years -- to pushing misinformation and demanding answers to questions already addressed in the public record.
According to a Media Matters study of publicity values for Fox programming, the network's never-ending effort to hawk the GOP's Benghazi theories amounts to a public relations windfall for Republicans valued at over $124 million.
For the two weeks following the select committee announcement, Media Matters reviewed TVEyes Media Monitoring Suite, a subscription-only database of television broadcasts, for Fox's weekday coverage of Benghazi. Data revealed that the network devoted over 16 hours and 27 minutes -- at least 225 segments -- to Benghazi in that time period. According to TVEyes' "national publicity value," which estimates the value of 30-second slots on any given program, this coverage carries a value of approximately $124,234,562.74.
And yet, given the fervor with which Fox has politicized the tragedy since September 2012, this amount almost certainly represents but a fraction of the publicity value Benghazi scandal mongers have enjoyed from the network's devotion to their phony attacks.
Glenn Beck's The BlazeTV acted out sexual propositions and labeled each skit "RAPE!" in an attempt to mock the prevalence of reported sexual assault.
In response to reports that the 22-year-old who went on a deadly shooting spree in Santa Barbara was inspired by a hatred towards women who had refused his sexual advances, The Glenn Beck Program attempted to debunk the statistic that one in five women have reported experiencing a sexual assault. The May 27 edition of Beck's program dismissed the number -- cited by the Obama administration during the announcement of a new initiative to protect college students from sexual violence -- as a "completely untrue statistic."
As evidence, Beck presented a pre-recorded segment by The Blaze's Stu Burguiere, which featured skit performances of sexual assault scenarios in which network radio host Jeff Fisher propositioned another man in a blonde wig and skirt.
The skits purported to reenact questions from two studies on sexual assault -- the 2007 Campus Sexual Assault Report and 2010 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey -- ostensibly to show how the number of sexual assault victims is "massively" inflated:
Conservative media have sought to legitimize the House's new select committee on Benghazi by claiming only it could answer questions about Benghazi that have already been answered, a tactic that appeared to spill over to CNN on May 22.
Anchor Wolf Blitzer hosted Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), a newly announced member of the House committee, and pressed him on why Ambassador Chris Stevens was in Benghazi on the day of the attack. Even though this matter has been repeatedly investigated in the public record, Blitzer asserted, "Maybe you'll get the answer" as to why during the House's latest investigation:
Before Karl Rove was questioning Hillary Clinton's viability to enter the 2016 presidential race given her health and age, he was expressing outrage at Democratic political operatives who examined the age of an even older presidential candidate.
When Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) was battling Obama for the presidency in the spring of 2008, he was 71 years old. At that time Rove told Fox's America's News HQ that it was "reprehensible" to suggest McCain's age was a liability (emphasis added):
HEMMER: All right. Let's shift our focus now to John McCain. Howard Dean and the DNC is circulating a rather extensive study that they have done in 17 different swing states across the country and they conclude that the age of John McCain is hurting him with some of these moderate voters. What is your take on that as they take on McCain?
ROVE: You know, look, I think this is really reprehensible on Dean's part. First of all, I don't accept the argument because if Senator McCain were having a problem with independents because of his age, he would not be tied or slightly ahead of or slightly behind either Clinton or Obama in all of these national polls. In fact, right now, he should be way, way behind both Obama and Clinton and he's not. In fact, he's ahead of them in most of the national polls.
And, I think, this is really - I mean, the Democrats have done this before. We saw this drama being played out and their story being spun out on the same way in 1979 and 1980 when Ronald Reagan was on the ballot. And I think, it's going to probably be as unhelpful to Democratic cause again this year.
Fast forward six years to Rove justifying his speculation that Hillary Clinton may have suffered a traumatic brain injury in a 2012 fall by suggesting it's customary to question a potential presidential candidate's age and health. From America's Newsroom on May 13 (emphasis added):
ROVE: My other point is, this will be an issue in the 2016 race whether she likes it or not. Every presidential candidate is asked for all of their health records, by The New York Times, they turn them over -- and vice presidential candidates -- they turn them over to a battery of doctors and they examine them in detail. And my point was, that everybody says she's going to run and she probably is. But I would bet it's a more complicated calculation than we might think because, look, she'll be 69 by the time of the 2016 elections. She will be 77 if she serves two terms. And this ends up being an issue. I would remind you, John McCain - here's the headline from U.S. News and World Report: "McCain's age and past health problems could be an issue in the presidential campaign." This happens every presidential campaign.
When you go through a health incident like this, any presidential candidate, any presidential candidate has to ask themselves, am I willing to do this for eight years of my life, serve? And run for two years and then serve for eight? And particularly when you're, you know, it's a natural thing to say, when I'm 69 years old, 77 -
HEMMER: I think that's a calculation for everybody. Quickly -
The Fox contributor appeared on Fox News on May 13 to explain the remarks, reportedly made at a May 8 conference. His claims resurrected an event that right-wing media had previously exploited in order to smear Clinton and push a baseless claim that the administration was attempting to cover-up the truth behind the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya. The then-secretary of state's testimony on the attacks before a House committee was delayed after her fall.
Rove attempted to clarify his remarks in a discussion with co-host Bill Hemmer, stating, "I didn't say she had brain damage."
HEMMER: How did this comment come up suggesting that Hillary Clinton may suffer from brain damage? Where'd that come from, Karl?
ROVE: No, no, no, no. Wait a minute. No, no. I didn't say she had brain damage. She had a serious health episode.
Rove tossed around wild speculation about Hillary's health status, claiming, "We don't know what the doctors said about what does she have to be concerned about. Don't know about -- I mean she's hidden a lot of this." In an interview with the Washington Post published after his Fox appearance, Rove is quoted as saying, "Of course she doesn't have brain damage." But he appeared to echo his speculation about her health to the Post as well:
"Of course she doesn't have brain damage," he said in an interview with The Washington Post.
But Rove said that it is apparent that Clinton suffered "a serious health episode." He added that if she runs for president in 2016, "she is going to have to be forthcoming" about the details of where, how and when it happened.
Contrary to Rove's claims on Fox, we do know happened to Clinton in 2012. She spent four days in the hospital after a blood clot was discovered in her brain several days after her fall. According to experts and the State Department, glasses worn by Clinton during her January 2013 testimony on the attacks in Benghazi were a corrective instrument meant to treat "double vision" as a result of her fall -- not traumatic brain injury.
Fox's Dana Perino debunked the right-wing media's attempt to manufacture a scandal around former Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner's new memoir by claiming that the book reveals that the Obama administration had asked him to lie to the American public.
On May 12 Geithner debuted his new memoir, Stress Test: Reflections on Financial Crises, detailing his time as president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and as Treasury Secretary under the Obama administration during the 2008-2009 financial crisis.
The book's excerpts promptly became fodder for right-wing media outlets, which latched onto two specific anecdotes to declare that the White House had directed Geithner to lie during appearances on the Sunday political talk shows.
At issue is Geithner's description of a prep session for the Sunday political shows in 2011 in which then-communications director Dan Pfeiffer asked him to state that Social Security didn't contribute to the deficit. Geithner wrote how he had objected to the phrasing, because "[i]t wasn't a main driver of our future deficits, but it did contribute."
Because of these anecdotes, Geithner's book represents a "new bombshell," according to Fox News, one that may show "the White House playing politics with the American people, perhaps." America's Newsroom anchor Martha MacCallum claimed:
MacCALLUM: Former Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner has a book. In it -- the excerpts have been released today -- he says that the White House asked him to go a Sunday show and say something that was not completely true, because it worked better for them politically. That is what is being suggested here.
But later the same day, on The Five, co-host Dana Perino, who previously served as press secretary under President George W. Bush, responded to allegations from her co-hosts that the White House had asked Geithner to lie. Perino explained that the way Geithner was asked to to discuss Social Security made sense "from a communications standpoint":
PERINO: I can actually understand the Geithner thing. It's like saying, "Hey, can you not try to say this point about Social Security?" I don't think that is asking Geithner to specifically lie. I can understand from a communications standpoint you're asking the principle and the policy person, "How far can you go to say X,Y, or Z?"
Fox News also quoted from "a source close to Geithner" who pointed out that he "does not believe he was encouraged to go out and mislead the public on the Sunday shows":
After the anecdote began to generate attention on Monday, a source close to Geithner clarified to Fox News that the former secretary "does not believe he was encouraged to go out and mislead the public on the Sunday shows."
The source said all the former secretary was trying to get across was that Pfeiffer wanted him to "send a signal" to liberals about the president's commitment to not allowing major cuts to Social Security.
Fox News tackled what it called the growing "problem" of female breadwinners, apparently jumping off a May 2013 Pew Research study finding a quarter of women outearn their husbands.
"Are female breadwinners a problem?" the network asked during the May 4 edition of Fox & Friends Sunday, promising "a debate about alpha women." Co-host Clayton Morris emphasized that he understood the "cultural argument" against female breadwinners, and expressed concern that the problem is rooted in the deeper, "biological, innate need for men to be the caveman":
MORRIS: Is there a problem with men earning less than women in the household, and do you think that it could throw off -- that it actually could cause big marital problems?
I get the cultural argument, guys. I mean, I can see how -- we can all weave our way through cultural issues. But isn't there some sort of biological, innate need for men to be the caveman? Go out and bring home the dinner and actually go out -- Is it emasculating if we don't do it?
Morris went on to ask Miss New York USA 2013 Joanne Nosuchinsky if she would "lose respect" for a male partner who stayed at home taking care of kids and "doing the laundry."
It's a topic the network has tackled before, much to the chagrin of its own female anchors.
Mainstream media outlets attempted to cast doubt on White House press secretary Jay Carney's explanation that a memo advising Susan Rice on her TV appearances referred to global protests as opposed to the September 11 attack specifically. However Sunday news coverage from Rice's press tour demonstrates that discussions of Benghazi did include broader context of anti-American protests in the region, as Carney had asserted.
After right-wing folk hero Cliven Bundy was caught on camera delivering a racist tirade, Media Matters looks back at the conservative media figures who propelled him into the national spotlight.