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."
Fox News will air an attack on President Obama in a program called Surrendering America, which is premised on myths and falsehoods about the Internet, the defense budget, the changed mission for NASA, and U.S. fossil fuel production and exports.
On the eve of Supreme Court oral arguments over the Affordable Care Act (ACA) requirement that businesses offer insurance plans that include contraception coverage as part of their preventive services, Fox News judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano falsely claimed that abortion and euthanasia are part of this coverage.
On the March 24 edition of The Kelly File, Napolitano said of the case (emphasis added):
NAPOLITANO: As everybody knows, the Affordable Care Act requires anybody that employs 50 or more people to provide health care for them that includes contraceptive services. Contraceptive services means contraception, euthanasia, and abortion.
Napolitano is completely wrong. As the Kaiser Family Foundation explains, the preventive coverage includes "FDA approved contraceptives," and "abortion coverage is specifically banned from being required as part of the essential benefits package." The only drug approved by the FDA to induce abortion is not included in this coverage. Further, medical providers and insurance companies are legally protected under the Affordable Care Act if they choose not to provide euthanasia or assisted suicide services to patients.
The issues of abortion and euthanasia are not relevant to the cases currently before the Supreme Court. The cases -- two separate lawsuits involving Conestoga Wood Products and the craft-store chain Hobby Lobby -- focus on the question of whether corporations have the same religious protections as individuals. The companies have claimed they cannot be forced to provide health coverage for contraceptives as mandated by the ACA.
Watch the segment below:
Fox News Sunday anchor Chris Wallace praised Donald Graham as the show's "power player of the week" for his efforts to give financial aid to undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children -- known as DREAMers. But Wallace's positive coverage of Graham's TheDream.US program stands in stark contrast to how Fox News has covered access to an affordable college education for undocumented students in the past several years.
Fox has exhaustively attacked laws that allow undocumented immigrants who meet certain conditions to pay in-state tuition at state colleges. In November 2010, the network attacked a court ruling upholding a California law permitting this, asking whether "illegal immigrants" should get what it called an "[i]llegal discount." In June 2011, Fox further attacked the law as "flawed" and complained that the Supreme Court declined to hear a case about the law. An O'Reilly Factor segment that same month falsely claimed that these students were getting "free tuition" and stated that 35 percent of students paying in-state tuition in California were undocumented, when in fact undocumented students made up only 0.34 percent of the population. In March 2011, Fox's Steve Doocy made up a story to argue against a New Jersey college allowing undocumented immigrants to attend classes and pay in-county tuition rates. And in October 2011, Fox & Friends promoted the efforts of two conservative Texas A&M students who wanted to repeal a law granting in-state tuition to undocumented immigrants.
In early December 2012, Fox News attacked a similar Massachusetts policy that would allow DREAMers to attend state colleges with the in-state tuition rate. Fox & Friends baselessly portrayed the policy as a burden on native and other immigrant students, and America's Newsroom hosted a member of a nativist extremist group to express opposition to similar policies in Oregon and Colorado.
More recently, Fox News used the falsehood that undocumented immigrants don't pay taxes to claim it isn't fair for undocumented students to pay in-state tuition. When O'Reilly interviewed Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) in October 2011, the Fox News host suggested that it's "heartless" to allow undocumented students to pay in-state tuition. On O'Reilly's show in June 2012, Fox contributor Laura Ingraham said that undocumented students in Colorado "should be paying an out-of-country tuition."
Watch Fox News Sunday's profile of Donald Graham and his efforts to provide college scholarships to DREAMers, which The Wall Street Journal called "a private sector analogue to states that have moved to offer in-state tuition rates to illegal immigrants," below:
Fox News anchor Bret Baier erroneously claimed that low income Americans not covered by the Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) must pay the law's penalty for not having health insurance despite the ACA's explicit exemption for those individuals.
On the March 18 edition of Fox News' Special Report, Baier aired a segment highlighting those Americans who would be left without health insurance, even though the uninsured population will be reduced. He then claimed those who were supposed to be covered by the law's Medicaid expansion, but live in GOP-led states that opted out of the expansion, would be forced to pay the law's penalty for being uninsured:
BAIER: For those people, they not only face the prospect of not having health insurance coverage despite Obamacare, but now they will have to pay a penalty because of it.
But Baier is wrong. The ACA allows people in states which have opted out of Medicaid expansion, but would have qualified for Medicaid under that expansion, to apply for a hardship exemption which waives the penalty fee for those citizens. In fact, HealthCare.gov explicitly lists this in their application for a hardship exemption:
Meet the Press host David Gregory invited conservative activist Ralph Reed to comment on the Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) event just held outside Washington, D.C., but never mentioned Reed's comparison of President Obama to segregationist George Wallace during his CPAC speech.
On March 7, Reed said during his speech at CPAC:
REED: And in Louisiana right now, this administration is trying to block the right of minority children to receive state aid to attend either a religious or a charter school where they are safe and where they can learn. Fifty years ago, George Wallace stood in the schoolhouse door and said that African-American students couldn't come in. Today, the Obama administration stands in that same schoolhouse door and refuses to let those children leave. It was wrong then, it is wrong now, and we say to President Obama, let those children go.
As Mother Jones reported, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal made a similar comparison at CPAC. Wallace was famous for being pro-segregation as Alabama governor and in 1968 ran as a presidential candidate for a third party whose platform opposed civil rights. A Wallace staffer explained that "race and being opposed to the civil rights movement and all it meant was the very heart and soul of the Wallace campaign." And Wallace's 1998 Washington Post obituary stated that he "vilified blacks" in his campaign.
But in the approximately seven minutes Reed was on a Meet the Press panel that discussed CPAC and Republican politics, neither Gregory nor anyone else mentioned Reed's smear of Obama. Watch:
On Meet the Press, National Security Advisor Susan Rice said that it is "patently false" that she or others in the Obama administration misled the American public about the Benghazi attack, a charge often made by conservative media.
During her appearance after the attack on Meet the Press on September 16, 2012, Rice presented "the best information we have at present," which she acknowledged could change as an FBI investigation gathered more facts. She said:
RICE: First of all, there's an FBI investigation, which is ongoing. And we look to that investigation to give us the definitive word as to what transpired. But putting together the best information that we have available to us today, our current assessment is that what happened in Benghazi was in fact initially a spontaneous reaction to what had just transpired hours before in Cairo, almost a copycat of-- of the demonstrations against our facility in Cairo, which were prompted, of course, by the video. What we think then transpired in Benghazi is that opportunistic extremist elements came to the consulate as this was unfolding. They came with heavy weapons which unfortunately are readily available in post-revolutionary Libya. And it escalated into a much more violent episode. Obviously, that's-- that's our best judgment now. We'll await the results of the investigation.
Conservative media, especially Fox News, have smeared Susan Rice and the administration ever since, accusing administration officials of lying and deliberately misleading the American people by citing an anti-Islam video as a motivating factor behind the attack. As Rice said on Sunday, the charge that the Obama administration intentionally misled the public is "patently false" (emphasis added):
RICE: What I said to you that morning and what I did every day since, was to share the best information that we had at the time. The information I provided, which I explained to you was what we had at the moment, it could change, I commented that this was based on what we knew on that morning, was provided to me, and my colleagues, and indeed to Congress by the intelligence community. And that's been well-validated in many different ways since. And that information turned out in some respects not to be 100 percent correct. But the notion that somehow I, or anybody else in the administration, misled the American people is patently false, and I think that that's been amply demonstrated.
Rice is correct -- she has been validated. Soon after Fox and other conservative media began attacking her, Fox contributor Juan Williams criticized his own network and pointed out that Rice was truthfully offering the assessment of the intelligence community at the time. Even Fox News host Megyn Kelly finally acknowledged this fact, long after attacking Rice for what she said. And a bipartisan Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report released in January 2014 determined, regarding the talking points provided to Rice, that "there were no efforts by the White House or any other Executive Branch entities to 'cover-up' facts or make alterations for political purposes."
The Senate report and a long investigation by The New York Times also determined that an anti-Islam video did indeed play a role in the attack, despite Fox's claims to the contrary. A section of the Senate report stated that "[s]ome intelligence suggests the attacks were likely put together in short order, following that day's violent protests in Cairo against an inflammatory video." The Times had a report out in October 2012, citing some of the attackers themselves, that they were angry over the video. A six-part series by the Times in December 2013 included more detail about the attack, and stated that "it was fueled in large part by anger at an American-made video denigrating Islam," and that there was "no doubt that anger over the video motivated many attackers."
Will the conservative media finally accept these facts, or will they continue pushing the Benghazi hoax?