If there's one thing Fox & Friends can be relied upon to do, it's to manufacture baseless accusations in order to attack President Obama. So imagine the surprise when, at the top of this morning's show, Gretchen Carlson punctuated an attack on the president by promising to "fact check" his comments. The subject was last night's interview with CBS Evening News in which Obama was asked by CBS anchor Scott Pelley about the fate of Social Security payments if Congress fails to raise the debt limit. From CBS Evening News:
Pelley: Can you tell the folks at home that no matter what happens, the Social Security checks are gonna go out on August the third? There are about $20 billion worth of Social Security checks that have to go out the day after the government is supposedly gonna go into default?
Mr. Obama: Well, this is not just a matter of Social Security checks. These are veterans' checks, these are folks on disability, and their checks. There are about 70 million checks that go out each month.
Pelley: Can you guarantee, as president, those checks will go out on August the third?
Mr. Obama: I cannot guarantee that those checks go out on August 3rd if we haven't resolved this issue. Because there may simply not be the money in the coffers to do it.
So how did Fox & Friends "fact check" Obama? Did they cite experts or analyze the complex issues of funding streams, Treasury Department policies, and legislation? No. Fox & Friends, in true partisan fashion, just broadcast a series of GOP talking points attacking the president.
In their first segment, Carlson broadcast a clip of GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, who appeared on Hannity last night, "calling out what he says is [Obama's] bluff." Of course, Gingrich had nothing to say on whether the president was right, just some political strategy on how the GOP could gain the upper hand in the debate. Next, Kilmeade paraphrased Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell by claiming that "it looks like the president is playing the grandma card and threatening everybody from the military families to Social Security so they get seniors and veterans besides themselves in a panic." The co-hosts went on to quote or paraphrase House Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor. The on-screen text was even less subtle, accusing Obama of "exploiting the elderly" and using "scare tactic[s]":
Not only was Fox & Friends' handling of the issue completely partisan and convoluted, it in no way resembled a "fact check." Like so much of what happens on the show, it was just another excuse to attack Obama.
Of course, as Media Matters has noted, actual, nonpartisan experts have said that a failure to increase the debt limit would force the federal government to prioritize its legal obligations and strain its ability to pay Social Security and other benefits. Unfortunately, Fox & Friends didn't include that information in its "fact check."