Despite his previous criticism of Fox News for shilling Benghazi myths, Fox host Geraldo Rivera ignored the Republican House Intelligence Committee chairman, an independent review, and testimony by a former defense secretary to push the falsehood that the Obama administration had adequate warning to prevent the September 11, 2012, Benghazi attack.
On October 17, Fox reporter James Rosen spent nearly ten minutes asking White House Press Secretary Jay Carney about a press release from the White House on September 10, 2012, that was highlighted at a Republican-led subcommittee hearing. Rivera appeared on Fox & Friends October 18 to comment on Rosen's questioning, suggesting that the press release shows that the Obama administration had notice of a threat to the diplomatic facility in Benghazi but did nothing to stop it:
RIVERA: What does the press release say the day before the attacks on the Cairo embassy and the consulate in Benghazi and other facilities around the country? The press release on September 10, 2012, says there is a heightened terror alert, be on the lookout, all our people have now been informed. So there was clearly notice, there was an appreciation on September 10, 2012, that our facilities overseas were in peril.
The press release Rivera cited doesn't actually say anything about a heightened terror alert or specific warnings to overseas facilities; it simply says that the president met with senior national security advisers to discuss specific measures being taken to prevent another attack like the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, as well as measures being taken to protect Americans and facilities abroad. After all, there have been hundreds of attacks on American diplomatic targets since the 1970s.
Rivera's suggestion that the administration was warned about an attack and failed to stop it echoes a repeated Benghazi myth and contradicts hearings and investigations that have shown no specific warning about the attack in Benghazi. Three days after the attack, Republican Congressman Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, told Fox News that he had "seen nothing yet that indicates" the administration "had information that could have prevented the event." The State Department's independent Accountability Review Board that was convened to investigate the attack "found that intelligence provided no immediate, specific tactical warning of the September 11 attacks." In testimony to a February Senate Armed Services Committee hearing about the attack, former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta explained that "there was no specific intelligence or indications of an imminent attack" in Benghazi.
It is surprising that Rivera is pushing this myth given his past criticism of his Fox News colleagues for pushing Benghazi falsehoods. In October 2012, Rivera said that "we have to stop politicizing" the attack with the "preposterous allegations, reckless allegations" -- pushed by Fox's Sean Hannity -- that administration officials watched the attack unfold in real time. In November, Rivera criticized Eric Bolling, saying he was "misleading the American people" for falsely saying no help was sent once the attack in Benghazi began. Less than a month ago, Rivera explained that it "was not true" that the military could have intervened in time to save American lives once the attack began, a myth that has regularly been pushed by Fox News.
NPR contributor Cokie Roberts left out many of President Obama's major successes when she said that his only real first-term accomplishment has been the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Among these accomplishments are the passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), the rescue of America's biggest car companies, and the death of Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
During a discussion on the October 17 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe about why Obama refused to entertain Republican demands that would gut the ACA in exchange for agreeing to avert a government shutdown, Roberts argued that the health care reform law "was his only real accomplishment" in his first term:
ROBERTS: Look at his first term. What was his only real accomplishment in that first term? This legislation. ... To give up his only really big accomplishment as President of the United States, that is something that he was not going to do.
While the ACA is one of the president's major accomplishments and is projected to reduce the United States' uninsured population by 25 million people by 2023, Roberts' statement ignores several of Obama's other significant achievements.
ARRA, also known as the 2009 stimulus, was passed weeks after Obama became president and succeeded in boosting the economy by several percentage points and creating the equivalent of several million jobs, according to economists and the Congressional Budget Office.
Later in 2009, President Obama helped General Motors and Chrysler transition through bankruptcy, a move that experts estimate saved well over a million jobs. Without the federal assistance that Obama authorized, the companies would have been liquidated.
Roberts also failed to mention the death of Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden on May 1, 2011, which represents a major foreign policy accomplishment by the president. Other notable foreign policy achievements include ending the U.S. military presence in Iraq, beginning the drawdown of the U.S. presence in Afghanistan, and assisting in the overthrow of Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi.
President Obama also signed significant consumer protections into law with the passage of new credit card regulations in 2009 and the 2010 financial reform law that created the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau. Another of Obama's significant regulatory accomplishments was his push for the regulation of greenhouse gasses after the Environmental Protection Agency determined that they were a pollutants that threatened human health.
The first bill Obama signed into law was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which expands opportunities for women to sue over pay discrimination. He also seated two female Supreme Court justices in his first term, including the first Hispanic justice, and oversaw the end of the discriminatory "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, which banned openly gay Americans from serving in the military during his first term in office.
Fox News hid a House Republican tactic that ensured a government shutdown by citing discredited author Ed Klein to misleadingly blame White House adviser Valerie Jarrett for the shutdown.
Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy claimed on October 16 that Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett was "the architect of the shutdown," continuing the network's pattern of excusing Republicans of blame for the impasse. But the federal government shut down on October 1 after Republicans refused to fund the government without unrealistic policy changes to the Affordable Care Act, and reports from after the shutdown began explained how Republicans changed congressional rules to ensure federal gridlock. Talking Points Memo (TPM) explained:
The House and Senate were at an impasse on the night of Sept. 30. The House's then-most-recent ploy for extracting Obamacare concessions from Senate Democrats and the White House -- by eliminating health insurance subsidies for Congress members and their staffs -- had been rejected by the Senate. The 'clean' Senate spending bill was back in the House's court.
With less than two hours to midnight and shutdown, Speaker John Boehner's latest plan emerged. House Republicans would "insist" on their latest spending bill, including the anti-Obamacare provision, and request a conference with the Senate to resolve the two chambers' differences.
Under normal House rules, according to House Democrats, once that bill had been rejected again by the Senate, then any member of the House could have made a motion to vote on the Senate's bill. Such a motion would have been what is called "privileged" and entitled to a vote of the full House. At that point, Democrats say, they could have joined with moderate Republicans in approving the motion and then in passing the clean Senate bill, averting a shutdown.
But previously, House Republicans had made a small but hugely consequential move to block them from doing it.
So unless House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) wanted the Senate spending bill to come to the floor, it wasn't going to happen. And it didn't.
Congressional experts told TPM that such a move is highly unusual:
"I've never heard of anything like that before," Norm Ornstein, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, told TPM.
"It is absolutely true that House rules tend to not have any explicit parliamentary rights guaranteed and narrowed to explicit party leaders," Sarah Binder, a congressional expert at the Brookings Institution, told TPM. "That's not typically how the rules are written."
When House Democrats attempted to bring the Senate bill funding the government to a vote on October 12, they were told by a presiding Republican member that they could not do so due to the GOP leadership's rule change. A House Republican aide later confirmed the rule change to CNN.
Fox News and right-wing blogs falsely claimed that the federal government turned off Amber Alert, the child abduction broadcast service, because of the government shutdown. In fact, there have been several Amber Alerts since the shutdown began October 1 -- only a Justice Department website listing them has been shut down, along with the websites of many other federal agencies due to a lack of funding.
Before Republicans caused a government shutdown beginning October 1 by refusing to fund the government unless Democrats accepted unrealistic demands, media reports explained that numerous federal government websites would go offline or would not be constantly updated as a result.
A week later, right-wing media are highlighting the unavailability of the Justice Department's AmberAlert.gov website to falsely claim that the government "shut off" the Amber Alert program. On October 7, Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy said "if somebody goes missing, and an Amber Alert should be issued, it won't be" due to the website not being available. Fox Nation's headline read: "Amber Alerts Cancelled: WH First Targets Veterans, Now Targeting Children, in Shutdown." A Breitbart.com blog post claimed in a headline, "Amber Alerts Shut Off." And the Washington Examiner claimed that "somebody, somewhere in the Obama White House or the Obama Justice Department decided to shut down the Amber Alerts."
Contrary to the right-wing media's claims, Amber Alerts have continued to be issued since the shutdown began. On October 5, an Amber Alert in Miami, Florida for a missing two-year-old was made and then canceled. An Amber Alert was issued in Galveston County in Texas on October 5 for four children, but was later canceled when the children were found safe in Tennessee.
The government shutdown and the suspension of Justice Department websites did not stop Amber Alerts. As California Highway Patrol officials explained to a NBC affiliate reporting on the shutdown of the Amber Alert webpage, local law enforcement agencies will still alert local media outlets about an Amber Alert.
UPDATE: The Justice Department's Amber Alert website AmberAlert.gov has been restored. A link on the website to view active Amber Alerts shows that this website does not post any active Amber Alerts. A Justice Department spokesman explained on Twitter that "[a]t no point has AmberAlert system been interrupted during shutdown":
An inaccurate Fox News report about Affordable Care Act (ACA) navigators in Florida was used by House Republicans to falsely claim that the Obama administration violated its promise that navigators would not visit people in their homes. But the groups cited in the Fox report, Enroll America and United Way, are not performing navigator services in Florida.
On October 2, a blog post on the Republican majority Energy & Commerce Committee website cited a Fox News report to claim that that navigator groups, which were established under the ACA to help Americans understand their new insurance plan options, were going to people's homes and that the administration promised this would not be allowed:
It has already been documented that the first day of the health care law's open enrollment was riddled with 'glitches,' disappointments, confusion, and even more delays. But the problems don't stop there. Fox News reported Tuesday that two Navigator groups in Florida went "door-to-door knocking on the homes of the uninsured, offering their help, helping them navigate through the different plans that are available." Such door-to-door outreach has previously been described as inappropriate, which is probably why a top administration official denied that such activity would occur.
Formal guidance was issued just ten days before enrollment began, and reads, "Please note that outreach activities should not include door-to-door activities to help consumers fill out applications or enroll in health coverage." Yet as yesterday's report makes clear, such activity began on day one.
The October 1 report from Fox News' The Real Story with Gretchen Carlson showed volunteers from United Way and Enroll America going door-to-door in Coral Gables, Florida, to raise awareness about the ACA, but incorrectly labeled them as "healthcare navigators." During the report, Fox reporter Phil Keating said:
KEATING: The United Way and Enroll America teamed up in Coral Gables, Florida, this morning. They actually put navigators going door-to-door, knocking on the homes of the uninsured, offering their help, helping them navigate through the different plans that are available.
But the organizations mentioned in the Fox report are not navigators in Florida.
Fox & Friends smeared President Obama with the false claim that he sent more security guards to keep veterans away from Washington, D.C.'s World War II memorial than were sent to the U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya when it was attacked in September 2012.
When the federal government began a shutdown on October 1 after Republicans repeatedly demanded concessions to weaken or stop the Affordable Care Act in exchange for keeping the government open, national parks and monuments were closed as there were no longer funds to keep them staffed. Veterans participating in the Honor Flight program were eventually allowed to visit the World War II memorial.
On October 3, Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy used the confusion over the status of the memorial to continue the network's inexhaustible obsession with Benghazi, saying, "as it turns out, it looks as if more personnel were sent in to the World War II memorial to keep people out than the State Department actually sent to Benghazi by two. They sent five people to Benghazi, the White House sent seven people to make sure that nobody got in to the war memorial."
An ABC News reporter was present at the memorial for several hours and didn't spot seven security guards keeping veterans away, but did observe the barricade being pushed aside without incident allowing the veterans to see the monument. One security guard was even spotted helping an elderly vet walk up a steep decline.
The National Park Service has also stated that it will not keep the veterans from visiting the memorial, calling their visits a First Amendment issue that supersedes the shutdown.
"The Honor Flights are being granted access to the WWII memorial to conduct First Amendment activities in accordance with National Park Service regulations applicable to the National Mall and Memorial Parks," the NPS said in a statement.
Politico reported on October 1, after a different group of veterans visited the memorial, that a National Park Service spokeswoman said "there [was] no risk of anyone getting arrested" at the time.
Fox News greeted the opening of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) exchanges on October 1 with lies about the law. Contrary to Fox guest and serial health care misinformer Betsy McCaughey's claims, Congress does not get a "special subsidy" for health insurance, the law does not cut Medicare benefits, and plans offered on the exchanges will provide a variety of benefits.
Fox Business host Stuart Varney misleadingly downplayed the harm that a government shutdown would inflict on the U.S. economy by claiming Wall Street would be mostly unaffected and that it could help the housing market. In fact, a shutdown would harm the housing recovery and economists say it would slow economic growth.
ACORN, the disbanded community organizing group and conservative boogeyman that was baselessly credited with everything from the financial crisis to stealing the 2008 presidential election, has been resurrected to attack the Democratic nominee for New York City mayor, Bill de Blasio, over his history with the group and its last chief organizer, Bertha Lewis.
The organization, which for decades worked to help the poor, became a favorite conservative media target after discredited conservative activist James O'Keefe released videos purporting to show ACORN employees helping child prostitution traffickers. The "severely edited" videos gave the false impression that O'Keefe visited various ACORN offices in a pimp costume -- a lie that was parroted by mainstream media outlets such as CNN and The New York Times. The videos were so misleading that O'Keefe reportedly paid a $100,000 settlement to a former ACORN employee who filed suit against him, claiming that O'Keefe had illegally taped their conversation in a California ACORN office.
Despite conservatives' assertions that the videos exposed criminality on the part of ACORN, three separate investigations cleared ACORN employees of any criminal wrongdoing -- and law enforcement officials criticized O'Keefe for the misleading nature of his videos.
Reporting throughout 2008, from both conservative and mainstream media sources, also tarred the organization with overhyped claims of voter registration fraud. These reports criticized ACORN for turning in forms from its voter registration drives that were possibly fraudulent. But those reports omitted that many states have laws that require organizations collecting voter registration forms to turn in every single form -- even forms that the organizations suspect are fraudulent. This misleading media narrative was so persistent that a 2009 poll found that a majority of Republicans believed that ACORN stole the 2008 election for Obama.
Now, more than three years after ACORN formally disbanded, conservative media are reviving the specter of ACORN after de Blasio won the Democratic nomination for New York City mayor. A September 24 New York Post story explored de Blasio's relationship with ACORN and Lewis, and quoted de Blasio saying that he is proud of his past work with her.
The right is selectively quoting an Inspector General (IG) report to accuse the State Department of ignoring the recommendations from the Benghazi Accountability Review Board (ARB). In fact, the IG report noted that the State Department is making progress implementing the ARB recommendations and praised its leadership as a model for future ARB responses.