CNBC's Closing Bell hid its own conflict of interest and the industry ties of the telecommunications industry front group Broadband for America while providing co-chairs of the group a platform to attack government regulations of the Internet and broadband access.
On the July 14 edition of CNBC's Closing Bell, host Kelly Evans interviewed Harold Ford, Jr. and John Sununu about the FCC's latest proposed regulations, introducing them as "Broadband for America honorary co-chairs," without explaining what Broadband for America was. Both Ford and Sununu insisted that the Internet should not be treated as a public utility and claimed that new regulations would slow Internet speeds and innovation.
Though Evans, to her credit, did pose challenging questions to Ford and Sununu about the possibility of companies paying internet providers to speed up customers' access to their content and the lack of competing broadband providers faced by many Americans, she failed to disclose the interest that Broadband for America and her own network's corporate parent has in limiting government regulation of broadband access.
Broadband for America has, among its members, major national broadband providers such as Comcast, Cox Communications, and Verizon. Its members list includes the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, which donated $2 million to Broadband for America in 2012.
And CNBC's parent company NBC is owned by the Comcast Corporation, which prides itself on its Comcast Cable division being "the nation's largest video, high-speed Internet and phone provider to residential customers."
A Fox News correspondent blamed the Obama administration's tweaks to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) for the Congressional Budget Office's (CBO) announcement that it would no longer estimate the total cost of the law, and suggested that the changes may increase deficits. In fact, the CBO and budget experts explained that the CBO routinely stops providing budgetary estimates once a law is implemented, and that the CBO's estimate that the ACA would reduce the deficit remains correct.
Conservative radio host and ABC News contributor Laura Ingraham made good on her promise to primary any Republican candidate who didn't share her anti-immigrant views, actively campaigning against House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) by endorsing his victorious opponent Dave Brat and making appearances at rallies to support him.
Fox News provided ample coverage of two separate instances of U.S. Marines imprisoned in Mexico on gun charges, using the stories to criticize the Obama administration for what was deemed an inadequate response to each situation. But Fox paid no attention to a nearly identical case of a jailed U.S. soldier that occurred during the Bush administration.
On March 31, Marine Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi was arrested after he claimed he accidentally crossed into Mexico with personal firearms in his car, and has been held in a Mexican prison on weapons charges since that time.
Fox News heavily covered the story. A Nexis search of the network's evening programming showed that since March 31, there have been at least 31 segments about Tahmooressi's detainment, including phone interviews with Tahmooressi, his mother, and his friends. Fox host Greta Van Susteren demanded President Obama take action to free the Marine on the May 20 edition of Fox's On the Record. Later on the show, Fox contributor Allen West bashed Obama and Secretary of State Kerry as "neutered pajama-boy leaders."
More recently, Fox ramped up its criticism of the purported lack of action to more absurd levels, conducting polling asking whether the border with Mexico should be closed until Tahmooressi is returned, and one Fox host going so far as to suggest that an exchange of "five jailed illegal immigrants" with Mexico for his return, a reference to the release of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl from Taliban captivity after several years.
And in 2012, after U.S. Marine Jon Hammar was arrested in Mexico for carrying an antique shotgun across the border, Fox devoted at least 35 evening programming segments to Hammar, according to Nexis, often similarly complaining about the Obama administration response.
But when Spc. Richard Torres was arrested after crossing into Mexico in a similar alleged accident in mid-2008, Fox News' evening shows voiced no such criticism over the failure of the Bush administration to act quickly to secure his release. In fact, a search of Nexis shows that they never covered the story at all, an omission that cannot be explained away by differences in the cases, as the circumstances of are remarkably similar.
From a May 30 CNN report on Tahmooressi's arrest:
The Marine's mom said he accidentally crossed into Mexico with three personal firearms -- all bought legally in the U.S.
The 25-year-old had intended to drive to meet friends in San Ysidro, California, on March 31.
He was moving from Florida to California in the hope of getting a job and continuing treatment he had just begun for post traumatic stress related to his two combat tours, she said.
With all his possessions in his truck, Tahmooressi accidentally drove across the border, she said.
When he realized his mistake, his mother said, he dialed 911 and asked the operator to help him. No help came, Jill Tahmooressi said. Her son first encountered Mexican customs agents, she said, and he believed they understood that he'd made an innocent error. They seemed to be getting an escort car to help him, she said.
But officers with the Mexican military interfered, she told "New Day," and her son was arrested.
And from a May 10, 2008, Houston Chronicle report on Torres' arrest:
When he crossed the U.S.-Mexico border, Spc. Richard Torres was carrying a small arsenal in his car: an AR-15 assault rifle, a .45-caliber handgun, 171 rounds of ammunition, several cartridges and three knives.
At a checkpoint, Torres didn't try to hide the weapons. But he insisted he hadn't meant to cross the border with the guns, which in Mexico are restricted for use only by the military. While searching for parking in El Paso, he said, he inadvertently drove onto a bridge leading to Mexico and could not turn around.
Now the Iraq veteran is in a Mexican jail while a judge decides whether to believe his account: that an experienced soldier accidentally ended up in a border town where drug cartels pay top dollar for exactly the kind of high-powered weapons he happened to have.
Torres ultimately spent a little more than a month in jail before he was released.
Methodology: On June 4, Media Matters searched Fox News Network transcripts separately for "Andrew Tahmooressi," "Jon Hammar," and "Richard Torres" for all available dates. Thirty-one results were found for "Andrew Tahmooressi," 35 results were found for "Jon Hammar," and zero results were found for "Richard Torres."
Fox News' On the Record aired dramatically cropped video of Susan Rice to falsely claim she brushed off a question about Benghazi and did not take the deaths seriously.
On May 15, host Greta Van Susteren aired only four words from Rice's response to a question about what new information the recently-formed GOP special committee for Benghazi may find. After airing Rice saying "Dang if I know," Van Susteren cut off the video and said it doesn't sound like the White House is taking the investigation seriously. Van Susteren repeatedly emphasized that four people died in the attack while calling Rice's response insensitive:
But the full video of Rice's response shows that Van Susteren is manufacturing this latest Fox outrage. Rice's response was to the question of whether or not new information would be released. In the full version of the clip that Fox chose not to air, Rice goes on to point out that "I mean, honestly, the administration has produced, I think, 25,000 pages of documents, or 25,000 individual documents. They've supported, participated in, contributed to the investigations of, you know, seven, I think, different committees. We have had an accountability review board by a very distinguished group of outsiders."
Later in the interview, Rice emphasized the need to prevent a similar attack from occurring in the future, saying we lost four brave Americans on that day, and their families and those of us who work with them continue to grieve. And the last thing we need to do is to lose any more":
RICE: What I think about and focus on as the National Security Adviser is what we can do and what we must do with Congress to increase the security of our embassies and facilities around the world. We have a budget request on the Hill for $4.6 billion that is necessary, in the administration's judgment, to make the kind of upgrades and provide the kind of security that our facilities need. Let's focus on that. Because what is lost in all of this discussion about Sunday shows and talking points is that we lost four brave Americans on that day, and their families and those of us who work with them continue to grieve. And the last thing we need to do is to lose any more.
Watch Rice's actual response:
Fox News' Dana Perino demonstrated her network's habit of using any story to invoke Benghazi by daring meteorologists who are scheduled to meet with President Obama to ask him about the attack.
On the final segment of The Five, Perino discussed an upcoming event in which national and local TV meteorologists will speak with Obama about climate change issues after the release of the 2014 National Climate Assessment. Perino used the opportunity to reference the Benghazi attacks, saying: "Tomorrow, President Obama is going to do interviews with meteorologists all across the country about a new climate change report. ... I hope they ask him about Benghazi. Like the weatherman from Montana should ask him about Benghazi, that would be great. I dare you."
Perino's line underscores the one common thread behind all of Fox's recent news coverage: invoking Benghazi at every opportunity. After Fox anchors Jon Scott and Jenna Lee cut away from a White House press briefing, promising to return only if Benghazi was being discussed, MSNBC's Steve Benen summed up the network's coverage by pointing out that "Fox has deemed all current events unworthy" unless it pertains to Benghazi:
This is getting a little weird.
By Fox's reasoning, there is only One True News Story. If current events distract from the One True News Story, then current events must be ignored ... while we wait for something to happen with the One True News Story.
That the One True News Story actually happened 20 months ago - it can no longer be accurately characterized as a current event - is a minor detail that should apparently be ignored by real Americans.
Scott added, "Talking about energy efficiency, of all things, right now. But if they get to some questions about this House select committee, how it will work, we will take you back there live."
First, "of all things" is a hilarious phrase in this context. It's as if the Fox host is offended that the White House is addressing an issue that's not the 20-month-old One True News Story - how dare administration officials take energy policy seriously right now, when Fox has deemed all current events unworthy.
On May 2, a Fox host said "we'll go back" to a news conference with Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel only if a reporter asked a question about Benghazi. That day, the network got the formation of the special Benghazi committee it had spent months agitating for. After a Fox correspondent bragged about the role the network played in spurring Republicans to form the committee, the network spent the day pushing Benghazi falsehoods both old and new, and aired a special investigative report about Benghazi.
UPDATE: On the May 6 edition of The Five, Perino responded to coverage of her comment that meteorologists should ask President Obama about Benghazi:
PERINO: When I suggested that the weathermen ask the president about Benghazi, I was joking. So all of you people who have called me the most horrific words today on the left, you can just relax. It was a joke.
Fox News host Bill O'Reilly discounted well-established facts when pushing the myth that President Obama did not order the military to help during the Benghazi attack.
On May 1, O'Reilly hosted Fox military analysts Ralph Peters and David Hunt to discuss new testimony about Benghazi that has been distorted by the network. After O'Reilly noted that military forces couldn't mobilize without an order from the president, Hunt said that "the president never gave the order" to deploy. Hunt later said "we had forces close enough to affect the battle, where they were ordered not to." Peters said that "the White House would have said stand down, that will still come out," to which O'Reilly responded, "that will be huge." O'Reilly echoed the Fox analysts, saying: "There wasn't anybody who said do something. That had to come from President Obama, through Leon Panetta ... it didn't happen."
But testimony from military leadership said otherwise. In his congressional testimony on February 7, 2013, former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said that after he informed the president about the attack in Benghazi, Obama "at that point directed both myself and General Dempsey to do everything we needed to do to try to protect lives there." The Associated Press reported that Panetta ordered Marine anti-terrorism teams in Europe to prepare to deploy to Libya, and ordered other special forces teams to prepare to deploy to a European staging base.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey similarly testified that the military "reacted quickly once notified of the attacks" and "deployed a Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team to Tripoli while a second team prepared to deploy."
But the units were unable to reach Libya until well after the attack ended due to time and distance constraints.
Peters' claim that there was a "stand down" order sent to American forces stationed in Tripoli during the attack has been debunked repeatedly, even by Fox News itself.
The Pentagon explained in May 2013 that there "was never any kind of stand down order to anybody." That June, Dempsey testified before Congress that the team wasn't "told to stand down. A stand down means don't do anything." He continued to explain that the team was ordered to assist in Tripoli. Fox finally admitted that the "stand down" order didn't happen on June 26, 2013, after the leader of that special forces team told Congress that he was never ordered to "stand down."
O'Reilly closed the segment by using the aforementioned myths as justification to call for a new congressional hearing:
O'REILLY: So now, so everybody is clear, I want everybody to be clear about this -- you have to pull in Dempsey and Panetta and say to them, "Did someone tell you not to get a rescue mission up and running?" That is a simple question these two men have to answer. Is that correct, is that where we are? ... That's where we are. I want everybody to be clear we take it step by step.
Fox News' Katie Pavlich said on Twitter that President Obama is anti-Semitic.
Pavlich, who is one of the rotating co-hosts for the new Fox News show Outnumbered, which launched Monday, was reacting to comments Secretary of State John Kerry made about the Middle East peace process. In his remarks, Kerry emphasized the importance of a two-state solution for Israel, "[b]ecause a unitary state winds up either being an apartheid state with second-class citizens -- or it ends up being a state that destroys the capacity of Israel to be a Jewish state."
On Monday night, Pavlich tweeted that "Obama won't fire John Kerry ... because he's anti-Semitic."
Obama won't fire John Kerry for two reasons. 1. doesn't need the donors 2. because he's anti-Semitic-- Katie Pavlich (@KatiePavlich) April 28, 2014
After being asked whether she really intended to label the president as anti-Semitic, Pavlich confirmed that she did:
In a July 2, 2008 campaign speech in Colorado, Obama called for the expansion of service organizations such as AmeriCorp and the Peace Corps, along with America's Foreign Service. During his speech, Obama said:
OBAMA: We cannot continue to rely only on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives that we've set. We've got to have a civilian national security force that's just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded.
Obama's call for more involvement in civic service organizations was distorted by Fox and the right-wing media, who employed inflammatory rhetoric such as claiming Obama wanted to build a "civilian army" that would be part of the president's "thugocracy" and is "what Hitler did with the SS." Even Fox News CEO Roger Ailes was reportedly concerned that Obama's comments meant he "wanted to create a national police force."
On the April 20 edition of Fox & Friends Sunday, co-host Kelly Wright dredged up the smear while discussing Bundy and his armed standoff with members of the federal government, claiming Obama was "telling Americans that the U.S. needs to beef up its domestic police force. And with the recent raid of Cliven Bundy's Nevada ranch, well, his push for a stronger domestic militia could be fulfilled."
While defending the Supreme Court's decision to undo decades of precedent and policy in campaign finance law, hosts of Fox News' The Five falsely suggested that unions can donate unlimited amounts of money to political candidates. In fact, unions are barred from directly donating to candidates and political parties.
In its April 2 decision on McCutcheon v. FEC, the Supreme Court decided that overall campaign contribution limits, previously set at $123,200 per individual per two-year election cycle, were unconstitutional. This allows future contributions to be spread among an unlimited number of political candidates, political parties, and PACs.
On April 4, as The Five co-host Bob Beckel criticized the decision and explained that these contribution limits were passed into law following the Watergate scandal, his fellow hosts Dana Perino and Eric Bolling claimed that unions face no limits on contributions, while there were limits on individuals.
But Perino and Bolling are incorrect. While unions, as well as corporations, can as of the 2010 Citizens United decision spend unlimited amounts on elections, they are still barred from direct contributions to candidates or political parties -- which is what the McCutcheon case was about. As USA Today explained:
It's the most important campaign-finance ruling since the high court's 2010 Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ruling allowed corporations and unions to spend unlimited amounts independently to influence elections.
The limits on campaign contributions had stood for nearly 40 years. The high court drew a distinction between those contributions, which it said could lead to corruption, and money spent independently in its landmark 1976 Buckley v. Valeo ruling. Independent spending was expanded in the Citizens United case to include unlimited spending by corporations and labor unions.
Independent expenditures, which unions are allowed to make, are not the same as direct contributions to political candidates and political parties. A guide to federal election rules from The Campaign Legal Center states: "Corporations and labor unions are prohibited from using treasury funds to make a contribution to candidates, political parties, and many types of PACs."