USA Today amplified a misleading op-ed claiming that proposed net neutrality regulations could cost consumers $15 billion in new user fees and taxes, a number that has been called into question by advocacy groups for faulty assumptions.
On December 12, USA Today ran an op-ed by Progressive Policy Institute's Hal Singer and Brookings Institute's Robert Litan promoting their conclusion that a vote by the FCC to reclassify the Internet as a public utility under Title II of the Communications Act could cost consumers "a whopping $15 billion in new user fees to consumer bills." The authors claimed that "[o]nce Internet access service is labeled a 'telecommunications service' under Title II, consumer broadband services could become subject to a whole host of new taxes and fees."
Singer and Litan admitted that "the Internet Tax Freedom Act pending in Congress might limit the impact of some of these taxes and fees" and that the FCC could limit service fees to consumers, but argued that such moves are unlikely and would not limit the impact of all fees.
The paper published the authors' claims despite the fact that their calculations have been criticized for relying on faulty assumptions. The nonpartisan open Internet advocacy group Free Press estimated that FCC limits and the Internet Freedom Act would reduce possible fees associated with net neutrality reclassification by nearly 75 percent, to $4 billion. The group called the notion that Internet reclassification would amount to more than $15 billion in new local, state, and federal taxes an unlikely "worst-case scenario" that fails to account for how net neutrality works in practice, as it ignores "the difference between services that cross state lines and those that exist entirely within one state":
On November 21, the Republican-led House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) released the findings of a nearly two year-long investigative report into the September 2012 attacks on two U.S. facilities in Benghazi. This report, like many before it, debunked right-wing media's myths about the attacks, concluding that there was no intelligence failure prior to the attacks, no stand down order was issued during attacks, and the administration's initial talking points about the attacks were based on the Central Intelligence Agency's assessment at the time, as the administration has long maintained.
The HPSCI report concluded:
[T]he CIA ensured sufficient security for CIA facilities in Benghazi ;and, without a requirement to do so, ably and bravely assisted the State Department on the night of the attacks. Their actions saved lives. Appropriate U.S. personnel made reasonable tactical decisions that night, and the Committee found no evidence that there was either a stand down order or a denial of available air support. The Committee, however, received evidence that the State Department security personnel, resources, and equipment were unable to counter the terrorist threat that day and required CIA assistance.
Second, the Committee finds that there was no intelligence failure prior to the attacks. In the months prior, the IC provided intelligence about previous attacks and the increased threat environment in Benghazi, but the IC did not have specific, tactical warning of the September 11 attacks.
Fox News hosts cherry-picked quotations from President Obama's 2006 autobiography, The Audacity Of Hope, claiming that the President's sympathizing with Americans concerned about illegal immigration conflicts with his current plans to take executive action to prevent deportations. But Obama's autobiography clearly explained that those concerns are no reason to deny immigrants the "rights and opportunities" that Americans enjoy.
Obama recently announced a plan to issue executive actions to protect up to five million undocumented immigrants from deportation. The New York Times reported that the president's actions would likely "allow many parents of children who are American citizens or legal residents to obtain legal work documents and no longer worry about being discovered, separated from their families and sent away."
The co-hosts of The Five painted Obama as a hypocrite on the November 17 edition of the show, highlighting selected quotes from Obama's autobiography in which he expresses that he understands Americans' concerns about illegal immigration. Co-host Eric Bolling asked whether "those comments that he just spoke in Audacity Of Hope ... conflict with what he's saying now?"
Huffington Post senior media reporter Michael Calderone is raising questions about a Washington Post report that named and implicated a White House volunteer in the 2012 Secret Service prostitution scandal based largely on an unnamed "eyewitness," without substantial corroborating evidence. The White House volunteer had been investigated and cleared of wrongdoing, as other media outlets had noted in 2012 reports that protected his anonymity.
The Washington Post reported on October 8 that in addition to several Secret Service agents and members of the military who were punished for hiring prostitutes during a 2012 presidential visit to Columbia, then-White House volunteer Jonathan Dach may have engaged in similar activity. The Post's evidence was a single anonymous Secret Service agent who "said he saw Dach with a woman he believed was a prostitute," and a hotel record that stated Dach had registered a woman into his room. The White House had investigated in 2012 and cleared him after determining that Dach denied any wrongdoing, that Dach's fellow White House travel aides reported no wrongdoing, and that the hotel records were inaccurate and had previously triggered the erroneous allegation that an innocent Secret Service agent had brought a prostitute to his room.
So why then did the Post decide to name him now, two and a half years after it broke the news of the scandal and 9 months since reporters began communicating with his attorney? Letters obtained by The Huffington Post show the attorney, Richard Sauber, rebutted the claims and offered countervailing evidence in letters sent to top Post editors. The decision to publish Dach's identity regardless raises questions about the threshold news organizations must meet when revealing the name of someone accused of lurid activity without independently confirming the claims.
Though The Post did not conclude that Dach hired a prostitute, it nevertheless crafted its story in a way that could give the impression of guilt or impropriety. ... Sauber denied the allegations and expressed concern that the inclusion of Dach's name in a story on the prostitution scandal could significantly damage his professional future. Sauber wrote on Jan. 16 that the publication of the charge "will be devastating to this young man just as he embarks on his career after law school."
Rock The Vote president Ashley Spillane responded to Fox News hosts' criticism of the campaign encouraging young people to vote, saying the hosts' declaration that they don't want young people to vote if they "don't know the issues," is "crazy."
During the October 8 edition of Fox News' Outnumbered, co-hosts Kennedy and Harris Faulkner chided the Rock The Vote "#TurnOutForWhat" campaign aimed at motivating young people to vote in the 2014 midterm elections "for the issues that matter to them." Faulkner claimed the campaign "is about kids getting high, getting drunk," and asked "do you really want to motivate them to vote and be ignorant at the polls?" Kennedy agreed saying "no" she didn't want young people to vote if they don't know the issues.
On October 9, Spillane responded on HuffPost Live, calling the view that young people shouldn't vote "crazy." She further explained that their comments exemplified a "problematic take on youth voting in American media":
Fox News' Bill O'Reilly suggested that President Obama raise an anti-terror mercenary army to defeat Islamic State militants and other terrorist groups around the world. But the use of mercenary forces has been outlawed by the U.N. General Assembly and O'Reilly's expert guest denounced his plan on-air as a "terrible," "immoral" idea.
On the September 22 edition of his show, O'Reilly claimed that the only credible plan to defeat the Islamic State had to include a mercenary force of 25,000 "English-speaking" fighters that would be recruited and trained by the United States. O'Reilly explained that his mercenary army would be comprised of "elite fighters who would be well-paid, well-trained to defeat terrorists all over the world." O'Reilly also detailed how the mercenary force would be trained, recruited, and funded:
A New York Times report finds that conservative members of Congress appear more often on Sunday news shows than liberal members, reaffirming Media Matters' data finding overall that guest appearances on Sunday news shows lean right.
A Times analysis of research collected by American University finds that the distribution of guest appearances by members of Congress on Sunday news shows favors conservatives by a margin of 57 percent to 42 percent. The report finds that the ideological tilt also applies to former Congressional members by nearly the same margin.
The parade of politicians on the Sunday morning talk shows veers to the right, not the left.
Conservative members of the current Congress have appeared more often on the network talk shows than their liberal counterparts. Senators and representatives from the conservative end of the ideological spectrum have made 57 percent of the appearances, compared with 42 percent for liberals, according to an Upshot analysis of data collected by American University.
When the Sunday shows have turned to former members of Congress, the same ideological pattern emerges: Conservatives have made 56 percent of the appearances, compared with 41 percent for liberals. As a group, the former conservative lawmakers were slightly more liberal than their current counterparts.
These findings reinforce an analysis from Media Matters that found guest appearances by elected and administration officials on Sunday broadcast news shows in 2013 favored Republicans on at least half of the shows, especially in solo interviews.
Ideology Of Guests On Sunday News Broadcast Shows: More Conservatives Than Progressives. Media Matters found that conservative guests outnumbered progressive guests on three of the four Sunday shows in 2013.
[Media Matters, 1/31/14]
Conservatives Received Majority Of Solo Interviews On Three Of The Four Broadcast News Shows. Three of four Sunday shows also devoted a majority of their solo interviews to conservative guests.
[Media Matters, 1/31/14]
Sunday Broadcast News Shows Invited More Conservative Journalist Guests Than Liberals. A Media Matters analysis found that all Sunday broadcast news shows in 2013 hosted more conservative journalists and pundits than liberals. Fox News Sunday had the largest imbalance with a 49 percent plurality of journalist guests being conservative and only 16 percent being progressive. On the other three broadcast news shows neutral journalists and pundits were the most common, followed by conservatives, and then progressives.
[Media Matters, 1/31/14]
Sunday Broadcast News Shows Dramatically Leaned Conservative During George W. Bush's First Term. A Media Matters study found that during President Bush's first term, Republican/conservative guests outnumbered Democratic/progressive guests, 58 percent to 42 percent. Guest appearances by elected officials and administration representatives also favored Republicans during this period, 61 percent to 39 percent. [Media Matters, 2/14/06]
Footnote: All original analysis conducted by Rob Savillo.
After multiple investigations concluded that no "stand down" order was given to security personnel responding to the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Fox News alleged that the delay security personnel took to enlist support amounted to a "stand down" order.
On the September 5 edition of Special Report, host Bret Baier once again hyped the asked-and-answered question from his Fox News special, "13 Hours at Benghazi," based on the accounts of three CIA security personnel who alleged they were delayed in responding to the diplomatic facility under attack in Benghazi, Libya. Baier criticized the "semantics" used by deputy State Department spokesperson Marie Harf, who during a press briefing explained that "there was no stand-down order" but there was a short delay "for very good security reasons to get additional backup and additional weapons" for the security personnel before responding to the attack.
Fox contributor Steve Hayes chided Harf, saying that "she admits that there was a delay" which is "the same thing" as a stand down order. Fox's Charles Krauthammer added that "there is no distinction between stand down and don't go."
Fox News host Harris Faulkner accused President Obama of "tipping his hat" to the terrorist group known as the Islamic State by referring to it as "ISIL" rather than the group's earlier recognized name of "ISIS" (the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria). But ISIL, short for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, is the name preferred by the international community and the Associated Press, as it more specifically describes the terrorist group's regional ambitions.
On the September 4 edition of Outnumbered, Faulkner discussed the differences between the terms ISIS and ISIL as acronyms for the Islamic State, highlighting the fact that Obama consistently uses ISIL. After wondering if the terrorist group prefers to be called ISIL, Faulkner claimed, "our president is tipping his hat to them."
But ISIL is the term used by the United Nations, the international community, and the Associated Press. As AP explained in June, the English translation is taken from the broad territory the group occupies called "the Levant":
Fox radio host Todd Starnes accused President Obama of "orchestrating the Michael Brown tragedy" and claimed the administration is "in cahoots" with Al Sharpton.
In an August 18 Facebook post, Starnes asserted that the Department of Justice's (DOJ) investigation into Michael Brown's death was proof that "the Obama Administration may be orchestrating the Michael Brown tragedy." Starnes also accused the administration of being "in cahoots" with Al Sharpton, who he called "a bona fide race hustler" (emphasis added):
The uncivil unrest in Ferguson, Missouri continues -- and it appears the Obama Administration may be orchestrating the Michael Brown tragedy.
NBC News is reporting that Attorney General Eric Holder and Valerie Jarrett are the administration's point persons going so far as to arrange a federal autopsy.
It was Holder who tried to convince the Ferguson Police Department not to release the video purportedly showing Brown involved in a strong-arm robbery.
He also ordered local authorities to stop using armored tanks -- even though officers were fending off Molotov cocktail bombs. It was a decision that in essence led to government sanctioned lawlessness.
The LA Times reports Jarrett and Holder have been discussing their game plan with the likes of Al Sharpton.
So while President Obama whacks golf balls and dances the two-step in tony Martha's Vineyard, his administration is in cahoots with a bona fide race hustler.