Fox News' upcoming special report on Benghazi, which examines questions that have already been answered repeatedly by multiple congressional and independent investigations, is being used by Benghazi Select Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) to justify the establishment of his redundant select committee.
The special, titled "13 Hours at Benghazi" and hosted by Special Report's Bret Baier on September 5, is slated to explore "Whether or not military assistance was requested by the security team and whether orders from above hindered their response to the violence that claimed the lives of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans." A Special Report segment teased the special by highlighting the reaction of congressional lawmakers including Benghazi Select Committee Chair Gowdy, who said in a press release:
[I]n response to recent reports from security personnel on the ground in Benghazi:
"The Committee has heard of these concerns and they go to the heart of why Congress established this Committee--to determine all of the facts of what happened in Benghazi before, during and after the terrorist attack that day. We welcome the opportunity, and expect, to talk to personnel who were on the ground in Benghazi, their superiors, and anyone with relevant information related to the Benghazi terrorist attack. There are still facts to learn about Benghazi and information that needs to be explained in greater detail to the American people. And this Committee will do just that."
As the Daily Beast's Eli Lake explained, on the night of the attacks there was a 23-minute delay between the initial distress call from the diplomatic facility in Benghazi and when the CIA contractors from the nearby CIA Annex departed to rescue the Americans there. Despite suggestions from some in the intelligence community that this delay hindered their rescue effort, repeated investigations found no evidence that the CIA operatives were delayed by "orders from above," as Fox's announcement suggests.
Washington Post columnist George Will deepened his ethically challenged connections to big-money conservative groups by participating in an Americans for Prosperity summit where prominent Republican presidential hopefuls made their pitch to major donors.
Will's attendance at the Koch-backed group's annual convention comes after he spent months promoting Koch-backed candidates for public offices and advancing Koch-backed policy issues in his syndicated column.
On August 31, Politico reported that Will was part of an "exclusive group of major donors and VIPs" who "dined privately" at AFP's eighth annual Defending the American Dream summit. According to Politico, the summit "has become an increasingly important stop for aspiring GOP presidential candidates." In previous years, Will has also spoken at the summit and been given AFP's highest honor, the George Washington Award.
Will's cozy relationship with AFP has not been disclosed in any of his recent columns promoting key Republican candidates for Congress or governorships, who have benefited from AFP's ad spending. Using his platform at The Washington Post, Will has promoted Michigan Senate candidate Terri Lynn Land, suggesting that she is "the GOP's best answer to the so-called war on women" and contrasting her with Sandra Fluke, whom he smeared as "a professional victim and virtuoso whiner." Will argued that by electing Land, Michigan voters would be able "to show what they think of 'war on women' hysterics as a substitute for thought." Like Will, AFP supports Land and, as Will noted, has already spent $5 million on her behalf. Will did not note his connections to the group.
Will has similarly promoted North Carolina Republican Thom Tillis' candidacy for the Senate, parroting his anti-Obamacare campaign advertisements in a May 30 column. Will defended Tillis against charges that he is an "establishment" moderate by praising his conservative credentials: "Tillis has been an enthusiastic enactor and implementer of the conservatism that North Carolinians voted for." Will noted that AFP has spent $8 million on advertising attacking Tillis' opponent, Democrat Kay Hagan. Charles Koch and his family have also maxed out their contributions to Tillis, and he received a $5,000 donation from the Koch Industries PAC.
Will has profiled Republican Bruce Rauner, who is running to be governor of Illinois, framing the election as a choice between Rauner's push for term limits and his "vows to change the state's fundamental affliction --its political culture" and "the acceleration of stagnation" under the Democratic incumbent, Pat Quinn. AFP has spent at least $120,000 attacking Quinn.
Will also supported the candidacy of Monica Wehby in Oregon. In a July 25 column, he argued that since she has spent 17 years as a pediatric neurosurgeon, "She probably can cope with the strains of legislative life." He cited her "two X chromosomes," opposition to abortion rights, and support of marriage equality to claim she "complicates the Democratic Party's continuing accusation that Republicans wage 'war on women.' " Will also suggested that Wehby isn't too extreme for Oregon because she "won 50 percent of the vote in a five-candidate primary in which her rivals accused her of moderation." The Koch-affiliated group Freedom Partners, which Politico called the "Koch brothers' secret bank," plans to spend $3.6 million on Wehby's race.
Organizations that receive large amounts of Koch funding have also been prominently mentioned in Will's recent columns. Will twice hyped the work of the Institute for Justice, which relied on Charles Koch for seed money, and has since received more than $1 million in money from Koch-backed groups. Will dedicated another column to pushing the Goldwater Institute's effort to create a balanced budget amendment. The group has received more than $1.6 million in donations from Koch-affiliated groups.
Will also offered praise for U.S. District Judge Rudolph T. Randa, who halted a criminal investigation into possible illegal coordination between the campaign of Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) and outside groups during a recall election. Walker has benefited from more than $10 million in spending by AFP.
Will has previously had problems with nondisclosure. Will has been criticized by media ethicists and veteran journalists for citing groups that are funded by the Bradley Foundation without disclosing that he is a paid board member of that organization. Tom Fiedler, dean of Boston University's College of Communications and former Miami Herald editor, stated that Will's acceptance of an award from the Bradley Foundation "signaled his alignment with its philosophy." Washington and Lee University journalism professor Ed Wasserman said that Will's failure to disclose the relationship was "[o]f course" a problem, explaining that even though Will is known to be a conservative, readers should know if Will's commentary is "independently arrived at rather than a reflection of a nexus of relationships and entanglements that he is embedded in."
Fox News medical contributor Keith Ablow wrote that there is something wrong in the minds of Ferguson residents who reacted to the shooting death of 18 year-old Michael Brown by a police officer with protests.
In an August 20 opinion piece posted on FoxNews.com, Ablow opined that the psyche of Ferguson needs to be investigated following the unrest that erupted after Brown's killing. Ablow suggested that the community's reactions were racially motivated; accusing the residents of presuming "the moral depravity of whites," which they would not have done if the teen was raped or killed by a black police officer:
The psychology of those who rioted and committed other lawless acts in Ferguson is as suspect at this moment as the psychology of Darren Wilson, because their psychology presumes the moral depravity of whites - at least those in authority.
If a black officer had shot and killed Michael Brown, chances are there would be no protests at all. Perhaps there would be a civil suit. Perhaps there would be criminal charges against the officer involved. But there would be no unrest.
When a woman is raped even if by a police officer, the community does not erupt in violence, with throngs of women breaking windows and threatening to storm the police command station.
Whether or not Officer Darren Wilson is guilty of anything, something is deeply wrong with the psyche of the community in Ferguson, Mo. And understanding and addressing that pathology should be the first order of business of community leaders - even as the work of investigating the Michael Brown shooting is unfolding.
Community leaders and residents in Ferguson have worked to keep demonstrations peaceful, and media reports indicate that many of the people arrested for violence in Ferguson have come from outside the community to confront police. Some Ferguson residents have also worked to protect local businesses from looters.
Ablow continues to use his Fox News platform to make inflammatory claims and attack the Obama administration, most recently coming under fire for his comments calling Michelle Obama too fat to be a credible voice on school nutrition.
President Obama called for healing and police restraint amid protests following the death of a teenager killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. In response, Fox News hosts baselessly accused Obama of inflaming racial tensions and stoking discord by speaking out on the issue.
A Fox News segment displayed a misleading chart based on a poll that appeared to show 110 percent of Americans disapproved of President Obama's job performance.
On the July 30 edition of Special Report, the following chart was shown during a report by Fox News political correspondent Carl Cameron on Obama's popularity in the "twelve states most likely to decide Senate control":
Without showing the number of likely voters who approve of Obama's job performance, viewers are left with the impression that more than 100 percent of respondents disapprove of the president's job performance. Watch:
Fox News host Megyn Kelly misinformed her audience by claiming that that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not issued a travel ban over Ukraine, in order to bash President Obama over Israel. In fact, the FAA has banned commercial travel over Ukraine since April.
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."