On November 21, the Republican-led House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence released the findings of its investigation into the September 2012 attacks on two U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya, debunking many right-wing media myths about the attacks. Despite the fact that this is just the latest of several reports that clear Obama administration officials of any wrongdoing, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) reappointed Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) to lead a special committee in furtherance of the right-wing Benghazi hoax.
Fox News host Megyn Kelly undermined months of claims from her network peers when she admitted to guest Jennice Fuentes that President Obama's upcoming executive action does not constitute "amnesty." Kelly, who has herself used the "amnesty" label to discuss the president's coming order, acknowledged that the term is a dog whistle conservative media have exploited to stoke opposition to immigration reform.
Obama is set to announce a new set of executive actions that will allow as many as 5 million undocumented immigrants to apply for protection from deportation based on the time they have been in the U.S. and their family ties.
On the November 19 edition of The Kelly File, Kelly acknowledged that the president is not actually pursuing "amnesty," because "amnesty is citizenship and that's not what [Obama] is talking about." Kelly also explained how conservatives purposely misuse the word "amnesty" for political gain: "That's a hot-button term that the right uses to sort of get people upset."
Kelly has invoked amnesty to warn against the action, as recently as July. According to Nexis transcripts of the July 30 edition of The Kelly File, Kelly said that Obama may be preparing to "drop a bomb like amnesty for 5 million illegal immigrants."
KELLY: And we should tell the viewers that this Democratic push saying they're gonna impeach him, they're gonna impeach him is working. They pulled in two million dollars just over the past weekend by these blast e-mail alerts saying impeachment. But the question is, I mean, Boehner came out today and said we're not gonna impeach him. OK? So, just stop that. However, what's true today may not be true tomorrow. And there's a report over the weekend from the Associated Press suggesting the president may be getting ready to use an executive action to basically give amnesty or some sort of massive provision for up to 5 million illegal immigrants in this country. And what would that do?
KELLY: Joining us now with more is Andy McCarthy, author of Faithless Execution, Building the Political Case for Obama's Impeachment. And let me just start, I want to get to the book and the controversy over the word impeachment and how people circle this back to you in a minute. But the notion that the president would come out, sort of get people -- the Democrats would come out and get people saying, impeachment, that's crazy. What -- that's crazy. Impeachment, come on. And then drop a bomb like amnesty for 5 million illegal immigrants to set the Republicans up to then say, now that's impeachable, but they've already laid the foundation for how crazy the notion of impeachment is. I mean, if that's what's actually happening here, pretty sophisticated political strategy, is it not?
KELLY: So, if the president wants to go ahead, if he's confident now he's not gonna get impeached because of everything we've discussed, what do you think would happen if he granted amnesty for five million people?
For months, Fox has labeled the president's plan amnesty. On November 13, Fox host Bill O'Reilly said Obama's executive action "is essentially an amnesty for millions of people." Earlier in the month, Fox host Sean Hannity said that "immigration law does not allow for the amnesty that the president wants to grant." In early August, Fox co-host Jedediah Bila called Obama's plan "executive amnesty to millions of people."
ABC's World News Tonight pushed the myth that building the Keystone XL pipeline could create up to 40,000 jobs. In fact, the pipeline is expected to create as few as 50 permanent jobs.
During a November 18 report on the failed Senate vote to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, World News Tonight anchor David Muir stated that "many argued it could have created thousands of American jobs." ABC White House correspondent Jonathan Karl added that "the jobs estimates range from 4,000 to 40,000 jobs. Proponents say it not only creates jobs, but it could lead to energy independence."
But PolitiFact has classified similar claims that the construction of the pipeline would create tens of thousands of jobs to be "mostly false," because a vast majority of the jobs would be temporary, and it "does not amount to tens of thousands of full-time jobs in the most common sense of employment." According to PolitiFact, "the State Department estimates the operation of the pipeline will only create 35 permanent, full-time jobs and 15 temporary contractors" once construction is complete.
The pipeline would also do little for "energy independence." Much of the oil that would be carried by the pipeline is slated for export, and U.S. imports of oil would be minimally affected by the supply that would flow through the pipeline.
Fox News dishonestly claimed that MIT economist Jonathan Gruber's comment that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) "was written in a tortured way" to minimize criticism proves that the law was passed deceitfully. In fact, Congress routinely crafts bills to fit legislative rules and politically acceptable limits, and health care reform was transparently debated for years with input from Republicans.
According to Vox, Fox News "broke the rules for exit polls" in its live coverage of election results, when anchor Martha MacCallum reported on the breakdown of how Independents voted in the New Hampshire Senate race.
Vox argued that Fox's decision to do so ran counter to a binding agreement not to leak results until the polls have closed.
Just after 6 p.m., MacCallum reported that Republican Senate candidate and former Fox News employee Scott Brown needs Independents to vote for him and highlighted exit poll results showing that 50 percent of Independents voted for Brown, while 49 percent voted for incumbent Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen.
Here's Vox's explanation as to how Fox violated standards on exit polling: (emphasis original)
The media outlets running the exit poll want to be able to describe who's voting, and who they're voting for, to the public as early as possible. But they don't want to have any influence on who ends up voting -- they don't want anyone deciding not to vote because they've already seen what the exit polls say, and they don't think their vote will matter. (There's some evidence that this happened back in 1980, when some outlets projected that Ronald Reagan would win the presidential election before polls closed on the West Coast.)
In some countries, like the United Kingdom, it's actually illegal for any media outlet to report exit poll results before the polls close. In the US, it's not illegal, but there's a binding agreement among the media outlets that run the exit poll that none of them is allowed to leak any results before the polls have closed.
Fox News has actively promoted Brown's campaign for months. During the past weekend, Fox re-aired a documentary about health care reform in New Hampshire that promoted him. The morning of the election, Fox tried to undercut Brown's opponent with a last-minute bogus conspiracy theory that Shaheen "was involved in [an] IRS scandal." Brown's campaign later promoted the Fox segment, which called the claim "a death sentence" for Shaheen's reelection chances.
UPDATE: Fox News has responded to Vox's charge. In an email to TPM, Fox News executive vice president Michael Clemente denied that the network violated an agreement on exit poll results:
Polls didn't officially close in New Hampshire until 8 p.m. and Fox's report came nearly two hours before. So did Fox News break the rules?
Media outlets frequently share driblets from the exit data -- demographic information and questions on voters' mood -- all while dutifully sitting on the ultimate top line until the polls close. In an email to TPM on Tuesday night, Fox News said that's precisely what it did, too.
"According to the National Election Pool (NEP), we are permitted to report exit poll results as long as we don't characterize the outcome of the race which we did not do earlier this evening," Fox News executive vice president Michael Clemente said in a statement.
Fox News host Mike Huckabee advised Republicans to "grow a spine" and oppose marriage equality, blasting court rulings overturning same-sex marriage bans as "the betrayal of our Constitution."
During an October 7 interview with the anti-gay American Family Association's radio program, Huckabee said that he's "utterly exasperation with Republicans ... who have abdicated on this issue," and warned that he might leave the Republican Party and become an independent if the GOP stops fighting marriage equality. The former governor of Arkansas is reportedly considering a run for president in 2016.
Huckabee reiterated his criticism in the opening monologue of his October 11 Fox News show. Huckabee denounced the court decisions that led to same-sex marriage becoming legal in several more states, emphasizing that judges overruled "the collective votes of the people themselves" in a "betrayal of our Constitution." He concluded that he is "utterly disgusted" with Republican governors and other officials that complied with the court orders overturning same-sex marriage bans, arguing that they should "[g]row a spine, show a modicum of knowledge about the way we govern ourselves, and lead, follow, or get the heck out of the way."
Fox News host Megyn Kelly said that Glenn Beck accurately predicted the formation of a caliphate in the Middle East, though in reality the actions of the terrorist group known as the Islamic State fall far short of Beck's 2011 prediction that was ridiculed by his fellow conservatives at the time.
In reaction to the protests against Egypt's former dictator Hosni Mubarak in early 2011, Beck theorized on his since-canceled Fox show that one of the results of this and other protests in Arab and North African countries would be "a Muslim caliphate that controls the Mideast and parts of Europe." On June 29 of this year, the Islamic State's leaders formally declared that they had formed a caliphate after seizing control of parts of Syria and Iraq.
On Wednesday, Kelly decided that recent developments had vindicated Beck's old claims, saying: "When ISIS became a big story earlier this year a number of people were reminded of a prediction by Glenn Beck. Beck had long argued that radical Islamists were pursuing a dream of establishing a caliphate in the Middle East, a country unto themselves. And that is exactly what ISIS has managed to do." She then interviewed him about how he feels about his claim now:
But reporter David Weigel, who was prodded by conservatives earlier this year about Beck's claims of a caliphate, explained on his former Slate blog that the recent developments show that Beck was very wrong:
[T]he gulf between what Glenn Beck was talking about and what the 10,000 or so murderers of ISIS are able to accomplish is so large as to be comical. Not that Beck's initial monologue wasn't comical.
"You have Somalia and Iran already in green," said Beck. "Now, let's add Tunisia. Former Tunisian government was considered one of the most secular and corrupt governments in the Arab world. The poor and the angry demanded changes. Most dangerous scenario is that radical Muslims seize power and put Sharia law into place."
That was a dangerous-sounding scenario. It did not happen. Tunisia is currently run by technocrats who were handed power after an Islamist party failed to govern effectively. Beck went on to worry that the Muslim Brotherhood would take power in Egypt, and that the result "could very easily be 1979 Iran." The Muslim Brotherhood did win an election, before being overthrown in popular protests and being replaced by a new military government. Not quite 1979 Iran.
Seriously, just read Beck's monologue. The host speculated that the weak economies of Spain and Portugal and the Muslim populations of France and Great Britain left them exposed to some kind of Shariah revolution. This was what "caliphate" meant--not a gang of killers terrorizing parts of Iraq, but a green wave spreading across the world that the early Muslims almost conquered.
Beck's prediction was also dismissed when he made it, particularly by his fellow conservatives. Then-Fox News contributor Bill Kristol wrote that Beck was "marginalizing himself" through his "hysteria" about the protests in Egypt, likening him to the conspiracy-minded John Birch Society. National Review Online editor Rich Lowry endorsed Kristol's "well-deserved shot at Glenn Beck's latest wild theorizing." And the Wall Street Journal's John Fund described Beck's claims as "apocalyptic conspiracy terms" that went too far.
Fox News host Eric Bolling warned America that "liberalism is a dangerous virus," echoing the kind of dangerous rhetoric that right-wing media figures like Glenn Beck have spread for years.
In an October 6 FoxNews.com opinion piece, Bolling wrote that while people are concerned about Ebola, the virus of liberalism is already here:
Wake up, America!
While everyone is up in arms about Ebola, and we must remain vigilant and fight it with all we have, there is another virus that has already taken hold of Americans in every state: liberalism.
Truth, transparency, freedom and liberty. The flag, "Under God" patriotism have all been tossed out the window.
They are being replaced by "everybody gets a trophy," "share the wealth," "government knows what's best for your business," your family and even what should go on in your bedroom.
Be careful, America. Liberalism is a dangerous virus.
Wake up, America. Liberalism is a virus, too.
Try not to catch it. And if you do, for goodness sake, don't spread it!!
Bolling's eliminationist rhetoric -- the belief that the liberals are a disease weakening America -- has been echoed by far right-wing media figures for years. In 2009, actor turned WND columnist Pat Boone compared liberalism to "A deadly virus ... loosed throughout our system." Throughout 2010, on his radio show, on Fox News, and even at his CPAC keynote speech, former Fox News host Glenn Beck called progressivism "the poison that's killing our Constitution" that "we've got to irradiate;" a "disease in the republic;" and "the cancer in America." And in 2012, right-wing columnist David Limbaugh likened liberalism to "a metastatic cancer."
Bolling wasn't the only conservative media figure to compare liberals to a disease on Monday. Right-wing author, filmmaker, and conservative media darling Dinesh D'Souza compared President Obama's father to Ebola, asking "which is a more dangerous infection?"
Cable and broadcast television news networks have repeatedly hosted former Secret Service agent Dan Bongino to comment on Secret Service security lapses, but have often failed to disclose that he is a Republican congressional candidate.
After reports of Secret Service lapses were uncovered by The Washington Post, Bongino has appeared on cable and broadcast news networks more than a dozen times to discuss the security failures. In several of these appearances, the networks did not disclose Bongino's campaign as a Republican for Maryland's 6th Congressional District, which was announced nearly a year ago.
Bongino was featured during the October 2 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, introduced only as a former Secret Service agent and author of a book based on his career. He used his appearance to criticize the White House staff and management. Bongino also briefly appeared during the October 1 edition of NBC's Nightly News, identified only as a former Secret Service agent, to comment on the resignation of Julia Pierson as director of the Secret Service. An October 1 appearance on MSNBC's Jose Diaz-Balart also failed to disclose his congressional campaign, and his status as a congressional candidate was also neglected during his September 30 appearance on CNN Newsroom while discussing the congressional hearing on the agency's recent failures.
Fox News has repeatedly allowed political candidates to work as on-air personalities and CNN's failure to disclose former host Newt Gingrich's conflicts of interest recently helped spur the Society of Professional Journalists to overhaul its transparency provisions.
Fox News personalities labeled President Obama's address during the United Nations General Assembly a continuation of his "apology tour," a repeatedly debunked right-wing narrative started during Obama's first year in office.