Three More Reasons Doug Ross Owes Me $1,400 In Gold

Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

I'm beginning to think Doug Ross is never going to give me my gold, and that in fact, he never had any intention of fulfilling his promise to give a one-ounce Krugerrand to any progressive who can send him "a documented lie repeated by Fox News reporters."

Yesterday, I pointed out that Fox had repeatedly falsely reported that Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan had "banned" military recruiters from Harvard Law School's campus when she was dean, and asked Ross to pay me. After he replied, challenging my facts, I noted that the source he was citing to bolster Fox's position was actually bolstering mine, and asked him to pay me. He's since responded with what he calls the "final word" on the matter, a quote from Sen. Jeff Sessions in which Sessions agrees with me -- he says Kagan denied recruiters "equal access to campus" compared to other recruiters, not that she banned them from campus, as Fox falsely reported.

The crux of Ross' position appears to be that the words "banned" and "stonewalled" mean the same thing. They do not. Military recruiters were "stonewalled" by Office of Career Services officials -- they received no help from them. They were not "banned" from campus, as Fox claimed; they could still come on campus, and recruit through the Harvard Law School Veterans Association. Did they receive the same treatment as other recruiters? No -- but that's not what Fox reported. What Fox reported was that they were banned from campus, and that's not true.

While I'm sure Ross has other sources he could cite that support my position and not his, I'm going to move on now to a few more of Fox News' "documented lie[s]." Ross' criteria remove a lot of the most obvious lies, but this is what we call a target-rich environment.

Below, I will examine the following lies repeated by Fox News reporters, and again request that Ross have the decency to follow through on his commitments:

  • Fox News reporters claimed that by potentially using a legislative procedure known as the "self-executing rule" to finalize health care reform in the House, Democrats would be passing health care reform "without actually voting for it." That's false -- in fact, so false that those reporters were often corrected by other Fox News reporters.
  • Fox News reporters claimed that stolen emails "reveal that scientists use, quote, 'tricks' to hide evidence of a decline in global temperature." That's false.
  • Fox News reporters claimed that by passing health care reform using the reconciliation process, Democrats would be "changing the rules" and using the "nuclear option." That's false.

Do I anticipate that Ross will actually acknowledge that Fox News lied in these cases and pay me what he owes me? Not really. The examples above are Fox News lies, but they are lies that favor conservatives. As Ross' response to the Kagan example indicates, conservatives have a way of inventing their own facts when the actual facts are against them.

Nonetheless, it would be nice for Ross to demonstrate some of that personal responsibility for which I'm told conservatives are so famous.

Fox Lie: Dems Planned To Pass Health Care Without "A Single Vote"

Fox's False Reports

Fox News' reporters repeatedly reported that by passing health care reform through a self-executing rule, Democrats would be doing so "without actually taking a vote":

  • Bill Hemmer: "We start this morning with what could be the latest tactic to pass health care. Democrats considering pushing it through the House without actually voting on it. Now, how's that work? It's called the self-executing rule that does not require a single vote, and lawmakers on the Hill are apparently ready to use it -- but how and when?" [America's Newsroom, 3/16/2010]
  • Jon Scott: "There are reports that Speaker Pelosi is considering this process which would deem that the bill is passed without actually taking a vote." [Happening Now, 3/16/2010]

The Facts

The House would need to vote to pass the self-executing rule; thus, it is false that the bill would be passed "without actually taking a vote." A 2006 Congressional Research Service (CRS) report explains:

Definition of "Self-Executing" Rule. One of the newer types is called a "self-executing" rule; it embodies a "two-for-one" procedure. This means that when the House adopts a rule it also simultaneously agrees to dispose of a separate matter, which is specified in the rule itself. For instance, self-executing rules may stipulate that a discrete policy proposal is deemed to have passed the House and been incorporated in the bill to be taken up. The effect: neither in the House nor in the Committee of the Whole will lawmakers have an opportunity to amend or to vote separately on the "self-executed" provision. It was automatically agreed to when the House passed the rule. Rules of this sort contain customary, or "boilerplate," language, such as: "The amendment printed in [section 2 of this resolution or in part 1 of the report of the Committee on Rules accompanying this resolution] shall be considered as adopted in the House and in the Committee of the Whole."

Don Wolfensberger, former chief of staff for the House Rules Committee under Republicans, stated in a 2006 Roll Call column:

Almost every major bill must obtain a special rule, or resolution, from the Rules Committee permitting immediate floor consideration. The resolution also specifies the amount of general debate time and what amendments will be allowed. A special rule also may contain other bells, whistles, gizmos and gadgets.One of these optional attachments is a self-executing provision, which decrees a specified amendment to have been adopted upon the rule's passage [emphasis added]. In other words, once the House adopts the special rule it effectively has adopted the amendment before the bill has even been called up for consideration [emphasis added].

Accurate Reporting

This example is particularly egregious because after Fox's anchors falsely claimed that the self-executing rule would pass the bill without a vote, they were often corrected by other Fox News reporters, analysts, or guests. Nonetheless, the same anchors would go on to repeat the same false claims in subsequent segments.

For example, Carl Cameron explained to Scott:

SCOTT: Carl, how would this work? You pass a bill without voting on it?

CAMERON: Well, they would do this through the Rules Committee. It's a practice known as "deeming," or what's called a self-executing rule. Congress has been doing stuff like this for hundreds of years, and back in the '70s and '80s, it really got kind of acute, and they created this process where in the Rules Committee of the House, which is completely controlled by the majority, in this case, Nancy Pelosi and the House Democrats, can essentially say that when they put together the language to deal with the reconciliation package, the package of fixes, they can deem that the Senate bill has already been passed by the House. That issue would have to be voted on, but the Senate bill itself would never get a roll-call vote. It would have been concluded to have been done sort of ipso facto, after the fact, Jon. [America's Newsroom, 3/16/2010]

Additionally, CNN accurately reported on the self-executing rule in a March 16 report:

ALI VELSHI: Okay. It's true that this debate has taught all of us a legislative lexicon that most of us never wanted to learn. Reconciliation is a prime example, but not the latest one or the most controversial. That gets me back to what exactly House members will be voting on this week.

CNN's Brianna Keilar joins me now to break it all down. I don't know even where to start. You are introducing us to new terminology that most of us never thought we'd never need to learn, Brianna.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Add this to your lexicon. it's called deem and pass, and this right now is the prevailing strategy for Democrats in the House while they try to pass their health care reform package.

Here's what they're facing, and I've broken this down, honestly, so I don't confuse myself and certainly not you. House Democrats need to pass the Senate bill, but they want to pass changes to the Senate bill, so they would pass it separately in the changes bill.

But the problem is for Democrats there's a lot of vulnerable Democrats who say, "I really do not want to vote on this Senate bill because it's got a whole lot of stuff in it that I don't like." For instance, the so-called Cornhusker kickback, that sweetheart deal worked out in the Senate with the state of Nebraska, or a tax on Cadillac, the so-called Cadillac, high-end health care plans. They want to pare it down with the changes bill.

So, what they are doing, Ali, is taking something called a rule. This is, sort of a procedural vote. Normally, it doesn't do a whole lot. Members of Congress vote on it and they say, hey, we're going to debate for this long. But what they're doing is they're rolling the Senate bill into the rule, and here I'm going to -- I'll staple it together, right? So that we can make it official. It's stuck in there.

And then they would vote on the rule, which would deem that the Senate bill is passed, and then they could emphasize this changes bill. Republicans are screaming about this, Ali, and they say that they're going to force a vote this week about whether or not this tactic should even go forward, Ali.

VELSHI: All right. So, let's keep it in mind. The rule thing. Until now, we thought rule was a four-letter word. But it's actually a methodology, something that they can use to get the bill through. Republican representative Virginia Foxx had something to say about this. She's from North Carolina, let's listen to this together.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. VIRGINIA FOXX (R), NORTH CAROLINA: I serve on the Rules committee. They are planning to bring a rule that say if you vote for the rule, you've voted for the bill. That's never happened in the history of this country, and, again, it undermines the rule of law, and the American people will not stand for it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELSHI: Now, it's not entirely true. In fact, it's not true at all that it hasn't happened in the history of the country. We've found a few examples of where it's happened in 1993, in 1999. But clearly, the Republicans are not interested in this.

KEILAR: Yes, this has happened many times, if you're talking about the folding in, we call it a self-executing rule. You pass the rule, and whatever's embedded in it will then pass. This has happened, I believe, dozens of times in the last decade. Actually, most recently in February.

And members of Congress, Republicans and Democrats, have done it to give themselves political cover for votes, which is the whole point of this, right? I mean, in February, they did it with the debt ceiling, which was obviously something the Democrats need to pass to increase the debt ceiling. But it's not popular, and so they put it in the rule and it gives them a little cover.

But what you have, Ali, is Republicans going, don't trick us, don't try to fool us. In the rule, we know it's the Senate bill, and we're going to hit Democrats for passing the Senate bill with a lot of unpopular stuff in it. But Democrats standing by it, saying look at the overall package we are passing, not the Senate bill. We're changing this bill.

Fox Lie: Stolen Email Show Scientists Trying To "Hide The Decline" In Global Temperatures

Fox's False Reports

Fox News reporters falsely claimed that stolen emails "reveal that scientists use, quote, 'tricks' to hide evidence of a decline in global temperature":

  • Bill Hemmer: "Recently leaked emails reveal that scientists use, quote, 'tricks' to hide evidence of a decline in global temperatures over the past, say, few decades." [America's Newsroom, 12/3/09]
  • Chris Wallace: "And this of course are the hundreds of emails that were either leaked or hacked from one of the leading climate research centers in the world that happens to be in Britain. And let's put up just two that have caused some of the greatest concern. From 1999: 'I've just completed Mike's Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (i.e. from 1981 onwards) and from 1961 for Keith's to hide the decline.' He's talking about to hide the decline in temperatures." [Fox News Sunday, 12/13/2009]

The Facts

"Hide the decline" refers to unreliable tree-ring data, not actual temperature readings. The Morning Call of Allentown, Pennsylvania, reported that Penn State scientist Michael Mann -- whose "trick" was referenced in an email from Phil Jones, head of the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia -- "said his trick, or 'trick of the trade,' for the Nature chart was to combine data from tree-ring measurements, which record world temperatures from 1,000 years ago until 1960, with actual temperature readings for 1961 through 1998" because "scientists have discovered that, for temperatures since 1960, tree rings have not been a reliable indicator." Jones has also stated that it is "well known" that tree ring data "does not show a realistic trend of temperature after 1960," and the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia has said that "[t]he 'decline' in this set of tree-ring data should not be taken to mean that there is any problem with the instrumental temperature data."

Temperature records show there was no "decline" in actual temperatures to hide. In a December 8, 2009, London Times column, Andrew Watson, research professor at the University of East Anglia explained, "The tree-ring measure declines, but the actual temperatures after 1960 go up." Jones has similarly explained that "it was absolutely necessary to remove the incorrect impression given by the tree rings that temperatures between about 1960 and 1999 (when the email was written) were not rising, as our instrumental data clearly showed they were." Indeed, measurements from each of the major climate centers show the clear warming trend.

Scientists have stated that the word "trick" is being misinterpreted. Scientists say the word "trick" is a commonly used expression and does not indicate deception. Bob Ward, director of policy and communications at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics, is quoted in a Guardian article as saying of Jones' email: "Scientists say 'trick' not just to mean deception. They mean it as a clever way of doing something -- a short cut can be a trick." RealClimate also explained that "[s]cientists often use the term 'trick' to refer to ... 'a good way to deal with a problem', rather than something that is 'secret', and so there is nothing problematic in this at all." Further, Penn State concluded in an investigation of charges against Mann that they "were not falsifying data; they were trying to construct an understandable graph for those who were not experts in the field. The so-called 'trick' was nothing more than a statistical method used to bring two or more different kinds of data sets together in a legitimate fashion by a technique that has been reviewed by a broad array of peers in the field."

Accurate Reporting

CNN accurately reported on the "hide the decline" email in a December 7, 2009, segment

ANDERSON COOPER: John, you know, you read these e-mails, and there's a lot of them. But many of them, I mean, they don't look good.

JOHN ROBERTS: Yes, and even the man who wrote them, Phil Jones, admit that some of them don't look good at the first reading. For example, take this e-mail from 16th of November, 1999. Phil Jones writes, quote, "I've just completed Mike's Nature trick of adding in the real temperatures to each series for the last 20 years to hide the decline."

Now, if you're a skeptic of global warming, you take a look at that e-mail, and you say, "Well, wait a minute. They're trying to manipulate the data, here. They're trying to hide things. They're using a trick to do it."

But I talked to the person that this e-mail was addressed to, and he said no, no, no. What, indeed, Phil Jones was trying to do was he had two different data streams, and one ended at a certain point. And then the other one began, and he was just trying to put the two of them together."

So if you're a scientist, you say, "Oh, well, that's a clever method of being able to do this." [Anderson Cooper 360, 12/7/2009]

Fox Lie: The Reconciliation Process Is The "Nuclear Option"

Fox's False Reports

Fox News reporters claimed that by passing health care reform using the reconciliation process, Democrats would be "changing the rules" and using the "nuclear option":

  • Bret Baier: "And you're talking about reconciliation, where the vote would be, just quickly, they would only need 51 votes instead of the 60 normally required. Reconciliation is what it's called now. It used to be called the nuclear option, didn't it?" [Special Report, 8/19/2009]
  • Bill Sammon: "And in the end, Democrats are going to go to the so-called nuclear option, which is to say, Bill, they'll change the Senate rules so you don't have to have 60 votes to pass it, you'll have to have 50 votes to pass it." [America's Newsroom, 8/18/2009]
  • Mike Emanuel: "[I]f you look at the headlines this morning, it says that, basically, the Democrats are considering the nuclear option -- 51 votes to get the most controversial aspects of health care reform through." [Fox & Friends, 8/20/2009]

The Facts

The reconciliation process is not the "nuclear option." "Nuclear option" was a term coined by then-Republican Sen. Trent Lott in 2005 to refer to a possible Republican attempt to change Senate filibuster rules. Reconciliation is a part of the congressional budget process -- no rule change is needed to exercise it. In fact, the procedure was repeatedly used by Republicans to pass President Bush's agenda, including the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts.

Accurate Reporting

CNN accurately reported on the reconciliation process in an August 19, 2009, report:

JOSH LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's one of those complicated procedures, as we were just hearing there, reported from Washington. So, this is one of those times we kind of stop through a little bit of "Schoolhouse Rock" here for you at the Magic Wall.

We just want everyone to understand why this is even possible and how it would work in the first place. And so we have some fun pictures.

Check this out. This is -- thanks to our graphics designers upstairs, this is what we have to represent a filibuster. Now, as you know, the way it works in the Senate, you need 60 votes to break a filibuster. So, you see a lawmaker here, blah, blah, blah, keeps talking. As a rule, you need these 60 votes; right?

Well, this is what's different now. In budgets, you can do this thing called a budget reconciliation, if you're able to get it inside the budget. And for this year, as CNN reported in the spring, we did. For the 2010 budget, tucked inside of this, we have this, a health care reconciliation.

Now, you can get these reconciliations in. They are debated. And this one was controversial at the time, but it did pass as part of the budget.

Once you have that reconciliation in here, all you need is this, a simple majority in the Senate. So, now, the Senate would only need 51 votes, Drew, to pass this reconciliation.

So, the theory here is, if they cannot get those 60 votes they would usually need to break a filibuster, this is a whole other way to circumvent it and say, you know what? Let's not even worry about. Let's use that reconciliation, get a simple majority of 51 votes, potentially pass the bill.

GRIFFIN: Josh, is that the nuclear option we've heard about in the past?

LEVS: It's actually not. Right, we've heard the "nuclear option" term used, and that was used in the context of trying to get through some judicial nominees against a filibuster. In a way, it's a similar concept, but we're not talking about that term here. That's not the term that's being used. Instead, it's about this specific thing, a reconciliation that got inside that 2010 budget.

Come on, Ross. Pay me my money.

Person
Doug Ross
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