Sean Hannity gave Sarah Palin 14 minutes of airtime tonight to bash Democrats and lay out her prescriptions for America, piling on top of the $7.59 million dollars in in-kind contributions that Palin has received from Fox News, part of a $55 million total to Fox News presidential candidates.
Palin's appearance follows the recent suspensions of Fox News contributors Next Gingrich and Rick Santorum -- and questions about why Palin was not suspended as well. A Fox News executive claimed Palin was not suspended because she has not "done anything herself to show us she has any intention of running right now." Yet Fox repeatedly hypes any indication that Palin will run, and Fox News employees have indicated that they believe Palin will run.
Hannity continued the hype, asking if Palin is "getting closer to making a decision" about whether to run as a presidential nominee. After Palin refused to commit one way or the other, Hannity responded, "We're going to continue to follow the process with you."
John Stossel lashed out at laws prohibiting discriminatory firing as "harmful," claiming that the Americans With Disabilities Act prohibition against employers firing workers because of their disabilities "makes it harder for them to get hired." In fact, studies have shown there is no evidence that that ADA provision reduced employment.
Bill O'Reilly pushed speculation that President Obama may be conspiring to keep the price of oil high in order to receive more federal revenue from "taxes at the pump." In fact, the federal fuel tax is assessed at a per-gallon rate regardless of the price at the pump.
Glenn Beck reached to the right-wing fringe for validation of his discredited conspiracy theory about the coming Islamo-Communist global takeover: Andrew Roberts, who advocated for mass internment of Iraqis and reportedly spoke at a dinner commemorating "the white supremacist government of Rhodesia"; and David Horowitz, who has a long history of pushing the same discredited conspiracy theories that Beck peddles.
Today on his Fox Business show, Freedom Watch, Andrew Napolitano hosted 9-11 truther Eric Margolis. Napolitano has previously supported the conspiracy theory that the government is lying about the attacks on September 11. By Fox News' standards, Napolitano should have been "fired immediately" for these comments, yet Napolitano still has his own Fox Business show and Fox News frequently hosts him.
A day after 9/11, I was asked on CNN if Osama bin Laden was behind the attack. `We have yet to see the evidence,' I replied. I maintain this position today.
Bin Laden denied he or al-Qaida was behind 9/11 and the death's of nearly 3,000 people. The plot was hatched in Hamburg, Germany and Madrid, Spain, not in Afghanistan.
Jonathan Kay writes in the National Post that this is not the first conspiracy theory that Margolis has supported:
When Israel invaded Gaza in late 2008 to stop rocket fire against Israeli towns, Margolis accused Israel of perpetrating a "final solution" -- i.e. a Holocaust. When Yasser Arafat died, he wrote a glowing ode to him in the Sun, and gave credence to the conspiracy theory that he had been killed by "an untraceable toxin" dispensed by Israel. Along the same lines, he declared that "Israeli scientists are attempting to engineer deadly micro-organisms that only attack DNA within the cells of victims with distinctive Arab genes."
Will Fox continue to allow Napolitano to give a platform to other 9-11 truthers?
On Special Report, Bret Baier reported that Newt Gingrich will announce Thursday that he is forming a presidential exploratory committee, noting that Gingrich is still a Fox News contributor.
CNN reports that employing Gingrich while he is a potential Presidential nominee raises serious legal issues (emphasis added):
When it comes to the law however, a spokesman with the Federal Elections Commission tells CNN there is no express prohibition forbidding a presidential candidate from being simultaneously employed by a television or radio outlet.
But, says FEC spokesman Christian Hilland, "There are some issues that a candidate should be mindful of so that air time isn't considered a prohibited contribution to her or his own campaign."
Specifically, there might be legal issues if Fox allows Gingrich to promote his own campaign or attack other opponents. That would essentially mean Fox would be giving him free airtime, which would require equal time for other candidates. On the other hand, Fox and Gingrich are likely in the clear, according to FEC regulations, if Gingrich restricts on-air comments to subjects other than the presidential campaign.
However, the FEC often makes case-by-case determinations on what is permitted in situations like this, meaning they will likely not weigh in on the issue until a formal complaint is filed.
Still, it is clear none of this is expressly impermissible until Gingrich becomes an express candidate for office. That won't occur until he raises at least $5,000 or refers to himself as a presidential candidate, according to the FEC.
Indeed, Fox News donated the equivalent of $55 million in free advertising to five of their employees who are potential presidential nominees in 2010, including about $7.41 million dollars for Gingrich. In his capacity as a Fox News contributor, Gingrich has defended the 1995 government shutdown, all while his Fox News colleagues downplay the potential impact of a government shutdown.
CNN shed light on how responsible news organizations deal with the ethical issues involved:
CNN faced similar circumstances in the 1990s with Crossfire co-host Pat Buchanan when he ran for the Republican Presidential nomination. CNN ended Buchanan's duties on the show once it was clear that he was seriously considering a presidential bid.
Buchanan, who now works as an analyst on MSNBC, offered his view Tuesday.
"If I announce an exploratory committee for President, I should and would take a leave of absence from the network," Buchanan said.
UPDATE: Fox News' ethic crisis escalates: On tonight's episode of Hannity, Sean Hannity and Frank Luntz speculated about whether Gingrich would run.
Gingrich is scheduled to appear on Hannity this Friday. Hannity has promised to ask him about his plans for 2012.
Media Matters' Will Bunch previously reported on the shortage of media attention paid to Shawna Forde, the leader of an armed movement against undocumented immigrants, who murdered a 9 year-old girl and her father as part of an attempt to finance her anti-immigrant group. Forde was recently sentenced to death. To their credit, Fox News Latino believed this was front page news, promoting a story by Spanish newswire EFE:
Fox News, once again demonstrating the difference between Fox News and Fox News Latino was entirely silent. Instead, they helped perpetuate the myth of immigrant violence by focusing on stories where immigrants were the ones committing the crimes. From FoxNews.com's immigration section:
Eric Bolling helped Lila Rose promote the falsehood that Live Action exposed Planned Parenthood covering up the sex trafficking of underage girls. Bolling ignored the fact that that Planned Parenthood had contacted the FBI to report the possibility that sex trafficking was occurring, which completely undermines Rose's claim that they are covering up sex abuse.
During his Fox News show tonight, Sean Hannity lashed out at Wisconsin protesters for carrying signs that he said were "uncivil." One of the no-good, very bad signs Hannity highlighted to illustrate just how low the protesters had sunk contained the phrase "WTF?"
Fox News' Special Report portrayed legislation that would restrict the collective bargaining rights of public workers in Ohio as "the only way" to balance the state's budget. However, even the State Senator who introduced the bill acknowledges that it will not "solve Ohio's immediate budget problems."