Fox News has launched a cover up of Mitt Romney's debate falsehood that President Obama waited 14 days before calling the deadly September attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, an act of terror.
While debate moderator Candy Crowley immediately corrected Romney's falsehood during the October 16 presidential debate, pointing out that Obama called the attack an act of terror during his first public comments after it occurred, Fox anchor Bret Baier started the Fox cover up during the network's post-debate coverage. Baier claimed Obama wasn't "specifically speaking about Benghazi" when he referred to the attack on September 12 as an act of terror, but rather was speaking "generically."
Sean Hannity followed suit, claiming that Obama was actually referring to the September 11, 2001, attacks. Straight news anchor John Roberts said that because the remarks "came at the end" of his speech, it's unclear that Obama was referring to Benghazi.
Fox's effort to cover up Romney's debate falsehood continued throughout its October 17 coverage. Watch:
At the same time Fox was trying to deflect from one Romney debate falsehood, they were completely ignoring many other Romney falsehoods from the debate, including his debunked boast that his economic agenda will be responsible for creating 12 million new jobs in 4 years.
Fox's Greg Gutfeld defended Mitt Romney's debate remarks about pay equity by suggesting that President Obama discriminates against women in the White House by paying them less than men. In fact, an analysis of White House pay showed that the gender pay gap in the White House is smaller than in the overall economy.
Moreover, as The American Prospect's Paul Waldman has noted, what that analysis indicated is that "men, on average, are occupying higher-paying jobs in the White House ... not that women are being paid less for doing the same job -- the kind of discrimination the Ledbetter act was designed to combat."
During the October 16 presidential debate, Romney addressed a question about how to fix workplace inequality by explaining how he "took a concerted effort to go out and find women who had backgrounds that could be qualified to become members of our cabinet." Romney added: "I went to a number of women's groups and said, can you help us find folks? And I brought us whole binders full of -- of women."
On Fox, Gutfeld defended Romney by contrasting Obama's treatment of women working in the White House with Romney's record of hiring women for cabinet positions as Massachusetts governor, claiming that what Romney "was saying is that he has a great record of hiring women. He hires lots of women."
By contrast, Gutfeld continued, the White House "pays their women roughly what, 17, 18 percent less than the men who work in the White House. The difference is about $10,000."
But as the Atlantic pointed out, the question wasn't centered on hiring practices; it dealt specifically with how "to rectify the inequalities in the workplace ... regarding females making only 72 percent of what their male counterparts earn" -- a fact Gutfeld ignored in his false comparison.
Fox News contributor Laura Ingraham distorted Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's comments in a Fox News interview about the September 11 attack in Benghazi, Libya, falsely portraying her as trying to deflect blame.
According to Fox News host Greta Van Susteren's blog, Fox News reporter Wendell Goler spoke with Secretary Clinton in Peru today. Ingraham tweeted a link to notes on the interview and misrepresented them.
Ingraham conflated two responses that Secretary Clinton gave during the interview to imply that Clinton couldn't "speak to who knew what" regarding the September 11 Benghazi attack. In fact, Clinton's comments were about a separate IED attack in Benghazi in June.
Ingraham tweeted, "Hillary tries to defuse the Benghazi issue bef the debate--says she's responsible but 'can't speak to who knew what.' "
Goler's notes from the interview include Clinton saying she is "responsible for the State Dept, for the more than 60K people around the world," and that "decisions about security are made by security professionals." Goler's notes then say that Clinton responded to a question regarding a separate June IED attack:
Re June IED attack: "I can't speak to who knew what. We knew there were security breaches and problems throughout Libya. That's something that came about as the aftermath of the revolution to topple Ghadaffy with so many militias formed. So many weapons loose...it was taken into account by security professionals as they made their assessments."
Sean Hannity falsely claimed that the auto industry rescue under President Obama was a failure and that "every single person" working in the industry would have kept their job had the government allowed the big three auto companies to go bankrupt. In fact, more than a million jobs would have been lost without the rescue, and bankruptcy would have likely resulted in liquidation of the auto companies.
Hannity pushed the falsehood on the October 15 edition of his nationally syndicated radio show while talking to a caller. After the caller correctly pointed out that there were jobs saved due to the auto bailout, Hannity responded: "Every single person would have kept working if they had gone bankrupt. Every single solitary person." He continued:
You act as though Mitt Romney was going to go in there and shut down all of the plants and that cars would no longer be produced. That's not what bankruptcy does. No, you're wrong, it wouldn't have happened that way.
This is false. The auto industry, after steadily hemorrhaging jobs, hit a 10-year low in June 2009. Between December 2008 and June 2009, the federal government loaned the auto industry $85 billion. Shortly after the $85 billion was loaned, the auto industry began its recovery and steadily added more jobs with sales of the Big 3 automakers reportedly "surging." The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) provides a clear picture of the increase in jobs after the bailout:
Media outlets largely focused on criticizing Vice President Joe Biden's demeanor during the October 11 vice presidential debate, ignoring the substantive arguments being addressed in the discussion. Meanwhile, fact-checkers were busy pointing out the inaccuracies in Congressman Paul Ryan's claims.
Fox News contributor Charles Krauthammer obscured Mitt Romney's stance on abortion by claiming that his October 10 remarks about pursuing a pro-life agenda as president do not contradict his earlier suggestion that he would not enact abortion legislation if elected. In fact, Romney's October 10 statements were "an abrupt about-face" that dovetailed with his long history of shifting his stance on abortion.
Fox News regular Stephen Moore, a Wall Street Journal editorial board member, today argued in favor of Mitt Romney's stated plan to end federal funding for PBS, by claiming that Sesame Street character Big Bird "has made more money than a lot of Wall Street firms." In fact, records show that the show's production company loses money annually.
As a Slate article explained in January, "Sesame Street and its production company the Sesame Workshop do make a lot of money from product licensing, but not nearly enough to cover expenses." Indeed, according to the company's most recent available federal tax returns, Sesame Workshop lost $6 million in 2010: Total revenue that year was about $133 million, but expenses added up to more than $139 million.
Though that may seem like a significant figure for a children's program, Sesame Street is a "relative bargain" compared to other TV shows. As Slate noted, "The production budget for Sesame Street domestically is about $16 or $17 million per year, which produces about 26 episodes." This works out to less than a million dollars per episode, whereas "a cable show like The Walking Dead can cost $3 million per episode," reported Slate.
According to a recent audit of the program, the remaining revenue Sesame Workshop gains is spent on expenses such as "education, research and outreach," "Sesame Street in schools," and content distribution.
The New York Times reported that to make up for the losses, PBS hopes prime-time hits like Downton Abbey and Sherlock, which attract significantly more donations, will in turn help "finance other programs like 'Sesame Street.'"
But on Fox News' Your World, Moore cheered Romney's decision to end PBS' federal funding, saying that "Big Bird is big enterprise in fact." He went on to argue that "people who listen to it, and watch it, and like the programming, they should pay for it," adding:
MOORE: My feeling is look, if people like Warren Buffet and people like, you know, people like Ted Turner feel that this is such an important programing, why shouldn't they pay for it?
In fact, people who think the programming is important and want to keep it on-air already do pay for it.
Media figures are creating false balance in their coverage of the presidential debate by claiming both candidates lied. But the statements from President Obama they are pointing to are true.
John Fund of National Review and Jonathan Karl of ABC News both used factual statements made by President Obama as examples to claim that he "stretched the truth" during the October 3 presidential debate. Fund cited Obama's comments about the power of an advisory board created by the health care reform law, while Karl pointed to Obama's statement that he has proposed a $4 trillion deficit reduction plan. In fact, both statements by President Obama during the debate were true, and have been supported by independent fact-checkers.
As a guest on CBS' Face the Nation Fund claimed "both candidates, I think, told things that stretched the truth." Fund specifically criticized Obama for saying in the debate that the Independent Payments Advisory Board instituted by the health reform law "wasn't going to make any decisions on treatment." According to Fund, that board "has unilateral power, unless Congress overrides it with a supermajority, to basically tell all doctors and hospitals this is how much money you have to treat people. That is incredible power. That is effectively the power to ration health care. So I think the President was stretching the truth in a big part of Obamacare."
During the debate, President Obama disputed Mitt Romney's statement that the health reform law "put in place a board that can tell people ultimately what treatments they're going to receive." Obama described the advisory board as "a group of health care experts, doctors, et cetera" who work "to figure out, how can we reduce the cost of care in the system overall? ... [W]hat this board does is basically identifies best practices and says, let's use the purchasing power of Medicare and Medicaid to help to institutionalize all these good things that we do."
Obama's description is accurate. The health reform law forbids the board from submitting "any recommendation to ration health care ... or otherwise restrict benefits," and multiple fact-checkers have made clear the board "wouldn't make any health care decisions for individual Americans" and "cannot by law make recommendations about what treatments people get." Instead, according to Politifact, "it would make broad policy decisions that affect Medicare's overall cost."
Media figures have rushed to discredit the newly released jobs numbers, claiming that the drop in the unemployment rate to 7.8 percent has been manufactured to help President Obama's reelection chances. In fact, experts dismiss the claims as unfounded conspiracy theories and agree that the numbers are accurate.
Conservative media have a history of dismissing newly released jobs numbers, claiming the government "cooks the books" and "manipulates" the numbers to paint a favorable picture of the Obama administration. In fact, conservatives base their attacks on discredited and faulty claims, and no hard evidence exists to suggest the government's numbers are manipulated.