Fox & Friends 2012: A Year Of Low Lights

Blog ››› ››› KEVIN ZIEBER & REMINGTON SHEPARD

Another year of Fox & Friends saw co-hosts Gretchen Carlson, Steve Doocy, and Brian Kilmeade preside over broadcasts replete with errors, gaffes, and downright falsehoods. Here are some of the show's more glaring low lights.

Fox & Friends Mocked U.S. Olympic Team Headgear

During the 2012 Summer Olympic Games, Fox & Friends criticized the U.S. Olympic team's Opening Ceremony uniforms. The red, white, and blue uniforms, designed by American company Ralph Lauren, were topped by navy berets with red and white stripes.

Fox & Friends mocked this sartorial decision, with Doocy asking: "Should the American team be wearing a beret? Why not a baseball cap? Why not a cowboy hat like when we went to Calgary."

In fact, berets have been a part of U.S. military attire "unofficially as early as 1954" and as part of the official uniform as early as 1961. Ten years before, the 2002 U.S. Olympic team had worn powder blue berets during the Winter Games.

Fox & Friends Pretended Obama Met With A Pirate Instead of Netanyahu

In honor of "Talk Like A Pirate Day," the Obama campaign Twitter account posted a photo of President Obama in the Oval Office with a man dressed as a pirate.

Fox & Friends, jumping on the Drudge Report's misinformation about the photo, accused Obama of meeting with the pirate while ignoring to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when he was in the country. But Netanyahu did not meet with Obama when he was in the United States because of a scheduling conflict.

Moreover, the Obama pirate picture has been available on the White House's flickr account at least since May 8, 2009. CBS reported on the photo on May 12, 2009, less than two months after Netanyahu formed a government.

Though the show did not issue a correction, Fox & Friends' twitter account and Doocy's twitter account later noted that the picture was from 2009.

Fox & Friends Manufactured Controversy Involving Obama Campaign And The American Flag

Following the Obama campaign's use of an American flag imagery on a campaign poster, Fox & Friends expressed outrage over the decision, accusing him of trying to replace the actual U.S. flag. Kilmeade said: "So long stars and stripes. The president is redesigning the American flag with an 'O,' I guess to get reelected." Doocy added, "Oh boy."

However, during Abraham Lincoln's 1860 presidential campaign, a Lincoln campaign banner used a modified American flag. It included a portrait of Lincoln's face in the field of blue usually featuring just stars, and writing in some of the white stripes.

Fox & Friends Used Honey Boo Boo To Bash Bill Clinton

In a move to downplay the wide praise former President Clinton received for his Democratic National Convention speech, Fox & Friends sought to contrast Clinton's popular speech with TLC hit reality show, Here Comes Honey Boo Boo. Fox claimed that more people had watched the show that night than watched Clinton's speech.

In fact, Clinton's convention speech drew 25.1 million viewers across the seven networks that carried his speech. By contrast, Honey Boo Boo drew 2.4 million viewers. Only if you compare Honey Boo Boo's ratings with Clinton's ratings among the 18-49 demographic on one cable news network, CNN, did the two tie each other in viewership.

Fox & Friends Misled On Employment Data

In 2012, Fox & Friends continued the Fox practice of creating misleading graphics. During a segment detailing U.S. unemployment, Fox & Friends showed a graphic that claimed that the unemployment rate in 2009 was 7.8 percent and that it had jumped to 14.7 percent by September.

In order to make this false claim, Fox & Friends used two different measures of employment, creating the impression that unemployment had skyrocketed during Obama's presidency at that point. In fact, the 7.8 percent figure represented the official unemployment rate for January 2009, while the 14.7 percent number was a different measure of unemployment.

During the next day's broadcast, Kilmeade and Carlson 'clarified' the mix up.

Fox & Friends Used Dishonest Comparison To Inflate Government Spending Under Obama

A Fox & Friends graphic distorted Obama's economic record by suggesting that government spending under Obama had gone from 3.2 percent at the end of the Bush administration to an average of 23.8 percent under Obama. In fact, Fox had to conflate two different measures of unemployment data to advance this claim.

Fox compared the level of deficits under Bush to overall spending under Obama -- two completely different measures of government spending -- to create the false impression that Obama was spending at a higher level than his predecessor, and at a level similar to spending during World War II.

During a following broadcast, guest co-host Eric Bolling addressed the discrepancies in the chart, saying: "We mixed up the numbers on Wednesday, so we wanted to clear things up." However, Bolling did not explain how Fox made such an error or note that government spending as a percentage of the economy has actually increased only slightly since 2008.

Fox & Friends Accused Labor Department Of "Cooking The Books"

Fox & Friends, always a hot bed for right-wing media conspiracies, advanced claims that the Obama administration falsified Labor Department data to help Obama's reelection.

Fox & Friends reacted to a positive jobs report by casting aspersions on the nonpartisan Bureau of Labor Statistics, with Fox & Friends guest host Eric Bolling suggesting that BLS was "playing around with the numbers." He then claimed that there was a direct connection from BLS to Obama via Labor Department Secretary Hilda Solis, who, Bolling stated, "works directly for Obama." Doocy then asked Bolling, "Are you saying they're cooking the books?" Bolling replied, "I'm saying there's room for error."

Fox & Friends Created The Obama "You Didn't Build That" Distortion

Fox & Friends also pushed numerous distortions, one of which became a major theme of Mitt Romney's failed presidential bid.

During a July 13 campaign appearance Obama pointed out that the success of small businesses can also be attributed to outside influences such as "a great teacher somewhere in your life" and investment "in roads and bridges."

Fox and Friends cropped video footage of his appearance to make it seem as if Obama was discounting individual ingenuity when he said: "If you've got a business, you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen."

Fox & Friends later offered "context" in the form of another deceptively cropped video of Obama's July 13 appearance, which The Daily Show's Jon Stewart lampooned.

"You didn't build that" quickly caught on at Fox and in right-wing media, manifesting itself as the theme of the 2012 Republican National Convention.

Fox & Friends Made A Four-Minute Anti-Obama Attack Ad

In May, Fox & Friends debuted an anti-Obama four-minute presentation filled with dishonest and misleading attacks. The ad featured video of Obama's past addresses mixed with bleak commentary from unidentified speakers. The four-minute pseudo-attack ad also included graphics purporting to show that Obama had broken myriad promises made during the 2008 campaign.

The Associated Press likened the video to "a campaign advertisement." During the primary season, Fox played an integral role in shaping the campaign, giving over 77 hours of air time to Republican contenders.

Fox & Friends: A "Megaphone" for GOP Attacks on Obama

The campaign style video was just part of Fox & Friends' continuing act as an extension of GOP messaging efforts. As the New York Times reported in June, Fox & Friends "has become a powerful platform for some of the most strident attacks on President Obama":

Conspiracy theories about Mr. Obama's religion once found an uncritical ear on the show's set. Assertions that Mr. Obama leaked national security secrets for political gain are accepted as fact. And its hosts recently took time on the air to congratulate one of their producers for making a four-minute video that painted Mr. Obama as a failure.

Before the Times piece was published, Carlson defended the show, claiming that it presented "both sides of the story" and that it left "it up to our viewers to decide where they fall." Of course, the day before she offered this defense, guest co-host Bolling asserted that "American exceptionalism is embarrassing" to Obama.

Furthermore, Fox & Friends continued its habit of regurgitating Republican talking points despite supposedly providing both sides of the story. In July, Fox & Friends provided a list of activities that supposedly would "qualify as work" per the rule changes issued by the Department of Health and Human Services:

An identical list also appeared on the press release page of Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch (UT), dated July 13, 2012, four days before the Fox & Friends broadcast

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