Less than a week after being described as "rotten to the core" for airing a four-minute anti-Obama attack ad, Fox & Friends marked the day before Wisconsin's recall election for controversial governor Scott Walker by devoting a major portion of this morning's broadcast to promoting the Republican governor. Over the course of several segments, the co-hosts misrepresented Walker's attack on working families in Wisconsin, while promoting Walker's policies and finally hosting GOP Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, who is also in danger of being recalled, for a softball interview.
Misrepresenting Walker's Union-Busting Bill
In one of the first segments of the show, the three co-hosts promoted Walker's anti-union bill. Co-host Steve Doocy framed Walker's efforts to cut collective bargaining for public sector unions as an opportunity for taxpayers to "control the entitlement state" while co-host Gretchen Carlson claimed that what created "a firestorm in his state" is Walker "asking public employees to do was to pay 12.6 percent of their health insurance premiums and 5.8 percent of their pensions which is much lower than if you work for a private company."
In fact, the unions had agreed to the pension and insurance changes that Walker demanded but objected to the union-busting aspects of the bill that gutted their ability to engage in collective bargaining on behalf of Wisconsin workers. Wisconsin unions explicitly stated that they were "willing to accept" cuts in take home pay and did "not seek to enjoin the pension and health insurance contribution requirements." Doocy later pushed the bogus claim that collective bargaining is connected to state budget woes, claiming taxpayers wondering who to vote for should "look at your statewide property taxes. They have fallen by 0.4 percent in 2011 for the first time since 1998. Also the governor's office estimates that the reforms that they have enacted have saved the taxpayers close to a billion dollars because now local school districts can actually renegotiate the contracts."
More Cheerleading For Walker's Union Busting
Later in the show, Carlson and co-host Brian Kilmeade hosted Kristi LaCroix, a Wisconsin schoolteacher who supports Walker and was featured in a pro-Walker advertisement. After playing a portion of the campaign ad, Carlson invited LaCroix to explain why she is "supporting Governor Scott Walker" and what Walker will "do for education in Wisconsin, [and] public schools that will be different from Tom Barrett, his opponent tomorrow." Carlson concluded the interview by calling LaCroix "courageous" for "speak[ing] out" in support of Walker.
The Fox & Friends co-hosts later ran another segment promoting Walker. This time they failed to mention Walker's attacks on collective bargaining at all. Carlson asked if viewers thought "that some of the reforms have been good" and immediately promoted Walker's claim that his property tax changes have "apparently saved $1 billion." After calling the election "emblematic of what will happen in November," Carlson asked if voters will chose to "learn how to cut costs because we have to as a nation or continu[e] to pay into the entitlement programs that many argue this country and these states cannot afford."
Softball Interview Of Wisconsin's Republican Lieutenant Governor
Fox & Friends' pro-Walker campaign continued later in the show with a softball interview with Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, who is also up for recall in tomorrow's election. During the interview, Carlson asked Kleefisch: So if you had to tell the Wisconsin voters right now why they should re-select you and Governor Scott Walker, what would you say?" Kilmeade chimed in by asking: "Why do you think the president didn't show up to fight for the other side?" Carlson then asked: "Why is this more important that just Wisconsin? What does it say about the big election coming up in November."
During the whole interview, neither of the co-hosts challenged Kleefisch's statements in support of her and Walker, including her claim that she and Walker "are not beholden to special interest groups." In truth, however, according to Fox's own Juan Williams, Walker "is getting big help from right-wing groups. They include Americans for Prosperity, the conservative group bankrolled by the billionaire Koch Brothers. AFP has helped Walker with a $3-million ad campaign."
Fox & Friends' promotion of Walker is nothing new. The show relentlessly supported Scott Walker during the debate over his anti-union legislation, viciously smeared opponents of the bill, and regularly misinformed in order to promote Walker's policy agenda and attack unions.