A recent Obamacare special on Fox News' Hannity illuminated the network's political bias, pattern of misinformation, and questionable use of anecdotal evidence, brought to light when a former adviser to Montana's governor fact-checked the special and found that not one of the show's guests--who lamented the horrors of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on air--had directly suffered from the law or even visited the insurance exchange. Hannity's reliance on guests who condemned Obamacare due to existing political bias demonstrates Fox News' habit of misinforming on the ACA and raises serious questions about the credibility of other guests that have recounted the "consequences" of the law.
On October 11, Fox News aired a Hannity special, which attempted to misinform on the ACA by hosting six guests who recounted their alleged "'Obamacare' horror stories." After watching the special, Eric Stern, former senior adviser to Governor Brian Schweitzer of Montana, tracked down the guests and found that not one of them had been negatively impacted by the new health care law. Stern detailed his investigation in an October 18 article for Salon:
First I spoke with Paul Cox of Leicester, N.C. He and his wife Michelle had lamented to Hannity that because of Obamacare, they can't grow their construction business and they have kept their employees below a certain number of hours, so that they are part-timers.
Obamacare has no effect on businesses with 49 employees or less. But in our brief conversation on the phone, Paul revealed that he has only four employees. Why the cutback on his workforce? "Well," he said, "I haven't been forced to do so, it's just that I've chosen to do so. I have to deal with increased costs." What costs? And how, I asked him, is any of it due to Obamacare? There was a long pause, after which he said he'd call me back. He never did.
Fox News continued to hype the myth that the debt ceiling raises the national debt, smearing President Obama's comments at an October 8 press conference as false. In reality, the debt ceiling does not raise the debt or authorize additional spending, but instead enables the U.S. government to finance existing legal obligations.
Washington Times columnist Jeffrey Kuhner urged Christians to oppose the Affordable Care Act on the false pretext that the law will fund abortions, which he likened to genocide. In reality, taxpayer money will not fund abortion coverage for members of Congress under the Affordable Care Act.
In his October 3 column, Kuhner falsely claimed that "members of Congress and their staff are allowed to now receive U.S. taxpayer funds to get an abortion." He then proceeded to liken abortion to genocide and condemn liberalism as "responsible for more deaths than Nazism or Soviet communism" in the wake of Roe v. Wade:
Christians need to engage in peaceful civil disobedience against President Obama's signature health care law. The reason is simple and macabre: Obamacare enables U.S. taxpayer funds to pay for abortions for members of Congress and their staff. That's right. Pro-life Christians will be forced to subsidize the slaughter of unborn children.
This should come as no surprise. Progressivism is at war with traditional Christianity. Liberals seek to create a society without God. Their goal is personal liberation -- the destruction of the family, Christian culture and all the other social bonds that act as bulwarks against radical individualism. Abortion clinics are liberalism's Gulag Archipelago, death camps scattered across the landscape. For liberals, abortion is key to erecting a society without sexual consequences. If a pregnancy is unwanted, liquidate the baby. Secular progressives believe that nothing -- including innocent human life -- must stand in the way of the sexual revolution. It is genocide masquerading as "choice."
Since the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide, more than 50 million unborn babies have been butchered. Hence, abortion has taken more lives than murderous dictators, such as Adolf Hitler or Josef Stalin. Liberalism is responsible for more deaths than Nazism or Soviet communism.
Contrary to Kuhner's claim, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) ruled that members of Congress and their staffers purchasing health insurance coverage on the new health insurance exchanges would be able to purchase a plan that includes abortion coverage but only with their own personal contribution to premium costs. No federal funds "will be used to cover abortions or to administer plans that cover abortions." Kuhner, like other right-wing media figures, misrepresented the ruling to falsely accuse President Obama of lying when he promised that no government funds would pay for abortions.
Right-wing media have used temporary technical glitches exacerbated by a flood of interest to demagogue against the Affordable Care Act (ACA) exchanges. In reality, the technological issues are caused in part by high levels of traffic, which demonstrate that millions of Americans are signing up for the health care program.
As the ACA's new health insurance exchanges launched on October 1, millions of Americans visited health exchange websites, prompting an overload of Internet traffic that contributed to technical glitches. According to White House Deputy Senior Adviser David Simas, healthcare.gov has logged 1 million visits in the past day, a rate that already dwarfs the number of visits ever received by medicare.gov:
The primary website to enroll in new coverage options under ObamaCare has gotten 1 million visits in the past day, according to a White House official.
David Simas, a White House deputy senior adviser focused on ObamaCare implementation, said healthcare.gov has logged 1 million visits in the past day. The volume of Web traffic has overwhelmed the new marketplaces, which opened for enrollment Tuesday morning.
"1 million visit HealthCare.gov in last day. 5x more users than ever on Medicare.gov at once. Millions want to #GetCovered," Simas said on Twitter.
Following a 21 hour fake filibuster by Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), right-wing media figures were quick to praise the effort as "genius." Fox host Sean Hannity opened his September 25 show, Hannity, with an over-the-top montage of Sen. Cruz's filibuster alongside images of Gadsden flags, American flags, trains, and Americans getting their hair cut, while conservative radio host Bill Cunningham compared Cruz to Davy Crockett, James Bowie, and John Wayne:
Fox's Shannon Bream claimed that the Obama administration has remained silent on violence against Christians in the Middle East and Africa, ignoring that the White House has condemned violence targeting Christians in the region.
On September 21, armed terrorists shot and killed at least 62 people and wounded more than 150 in a terrorist attack on the Westgate Shopping Mall in Nairobi, Kenya. The Associated Press reported that only non-Muslims were targeted by the Islamic extremist group al-Shabab in the attack.
On the September 23 edition of Fox News' America Live, host Shannon Bream claimed that "despite an increase in these kinds of attacks in Kenya and Pakistan, we still have not heard anything specific from the White House about whether the treatment of Christians in this part of the world has to change":
Right-wing media have rushed to heap praise on Russian President Vladimir Putin for a proposal to allow Syria to avoid U.S. air strikes by surrendering all of its chemical weapons to the international community, despite the fact that Russia was responding to statements by Secretary of State John Kerry and that President Obama supports the solution.
Fox News is peddling its recent misleading special on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps, to members of Congress in an attempt to influence an upcoming vote on legislation that would cut SNAP benefits by $40 billion. This effort reveals the network's ties to the Republican Party as well as its ongoing campaign to demonize those who accept SNAP benefits.
On August 9, Fox News aired a special investigation into SNAP titled "The Great Food Stamp Binge." The special purported to demonstrate rampant fraud in the program by presenting Jason Greenslate, "a blissfully jobless California surfer" who has exploited of SNAP benefits, as the typical SNAP recipient. In reality, Greenslate bears no resemblance to the overwhelming majority of SNAP recipients, many of whom are elderly, children, or rely on the program for a short time while looking for work.
According to recent reporting from Politico, Fox has found a new use for its misleading special, distributing it to members of the House in anticipation of a vote on a bill that would reduce SNAP by $40 billion:
The reductions double the level of 10-year savings previously proposed by the House Agriculture Committee on a bipartisan vote in June. The great fear in the agriculture community is that Cantor is pushing the House so far to the right on the nutrition issue that he will kill any chance of enacting farm legislation before the current law runs out Sept. 30.
Nonetheless, the Virginia Republican has a powerful cast of backers behind his vision of what's being dubbed "Welfare Reform 2.0." The Heritage Foundation, with close ties to Cantor and his top staff, has lent support in the fight. And over the August recess, Fox News aired a sympathetic report entitled "The Great Food Stamp Binge" -- videos of which are now being distributed by Fox staff to House members.
POLITICO inquiries to Fox News regarding the videos have gone unanswered since Saturday. But both Republican and Democratic offices confirmed that copies have been dropped off unsolicited in recent days, and the broadcast has already provided colorful fodder in promoting the Cantor package.
NPR pushed the myth that increasing the minimum wage would result in job losses. However, a wealth of economic evidence disputes the claim that minimum wage hikes are job killers.
In an August 29 post on the nationwide fast-food workers' strike, NPR gave credence to the myth that increasing the minimum wage forces businesses to cut jobs. Rather than turning to economists, the piece, which described the plight of fast food workers, quoted a restaurant industry lobbyist who claimed that increasing the minimum wage would kill jobs:
Industry officials say a sharp increase in the minimum wage would kill jobs.
"Doubling the minimum wage is absolutely, positively going to reduce the number of jobs," says Scott DeFife, executive vice president of policy and government affairs at the National Restaurant Association. He says the industry is proud that one-third of all American adults got their start in restaurant jobs. Part-time work and flexible schedules are a big attraction for many, he says, and he points out that half of those making the minimum wage are teenagers.
Above all, DeFife says, the restaurant industry offers opportunity. "It's there for people who have had economic difficulties in the past, or who may not have finished four years of a college or university program," he says.
Capitalizing on the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, Rush Limbaugh claimed he has been told he sounds more like Martin Luther King Jr. than President Barack Obama does. These comments fly in the face of Limbaugh's extensive history of racially divisive comments.