Fox News misleadingly suggested that Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz declared bankrupt solar company Solyndra a "success" in recent remarks. In fact, he was praising the broader clean energy loan program that supported it, noting that its loan recipients, such as Tesla Motors, are mostly still in business.
The new attack came after Moniz defended the Department of Energy's (DOE) green loan initiative in an interview with C-SPAN. He explained that despite the hype surrounding Solyndra, the portfolio has been a "terrific success," as evidenced by the fact that losses represent only a little over 2 percent of the $34.4 billion in loan guarantees, and under 10 percent of the reserve fund that Congress set aside to cover any defaults, knowing that not every company would succeed. Indeed, according to a Bloomberg Government analysis, the amount set aside by Congress for defaults will be more than enough even if every high-risk project fails. This is indicative of the caution that undergirded the program, which mostly apportioned funds to inherently low-risk power generation projects.
But Wednesday's edition of Fox & Friends suggested that Moniz was championing one of the program's rare failures, running a clip from Moniz's interview with a chyron reading "CELEBRATING SOLYNDRA. Energy Official: Failed Solar Co. A 'Success.'"
Watch what Moniz said and how Fox News reported it:
Fox has repeatedly seized on individual companies' troubles to declare the entire solar industry either on the "brink of collapse" or "tanking our economy." Media at-large have not been much better, relentlessly promoting Solyndra as the face of the green loan program and, at times, of clean energy itself, even as they ignored other, more promising developments. However, contrary to this narrative, clean energy sources including solar, are on the rise:
A Fox News anchor suggested that since the majority of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) employees have been furloughed under the government shutdown, we should simply do without them even after it has been resolved. However, EPA employees furloughed include those in charge of cleaning up hundreds of hazardous waste sites and enforcing clean air and water laws.
On Wednesday, Fox News' America's Newsroom noted that less than 7 percent of the over 16,000 EPA employees would be working during the government shutdown (about 1,000 total employees). Co-anchor Martha MacCallum laughed that "some" have "asked why we need the other 15,000 EPA workers at all," adding that these were "valid questions":
The "some" who are asking this are several Republican lawmakers behind the government shutdown. For instance, Rep. Steve Stockman who has rallied for the shutdown, tweeted a Washington Examiner article suggesting furloughed employees may be "non-essential" long-term, and re-tweeted a follower celebrating the idea that they wouldn't return:
From the October 1 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Sean Hannity Show:
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On Wednesday, the State Department Office of the Inspector General (IG) issued the results of its investigation of the Benghazi Accountability Review Board that was chaired by Ambassador Thomas Pickering and Admiral Mike Mullen, as well as the State Department's implementation of its recommendations. The first finding of the report states [emphasis added]:
The Accountability Review Board process operates as intended--independently and without bias--to identify vulnerabilities in the Department of State's security programs.
After being given advance copies of a Republican report attacking the credibility of the Benghazi review that was released on September 16, publications rushed to inform their readers of its flawed findings. There is no similar urgency on the part of the media to cover this new report which should lay to rest the notion that the Accountability Review Board was anything but an independent investigation into the tragedy that occurred in Benghazi on September 11, 2012.
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.
Fox News contributor Katie Pavlich dishonestly criticized the independence of the State Department Accountability Review Board (ARB) that investigated the September 2012 attack on a U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya by hyping the fact that then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appointed four of the ARB's members. Federal law mandates that the secretary of state appoint four of the five members of each Accountability Review Board.
During a September 19 House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on the attacks that killed four Americans in Benghazi, Republican Congressman John Mica of Florida asked Retired Admiral Mike Mullen, vice chairman of the ARB, to confirm that Clinton appointed four of the five members of the board. After Mullen confirmed that, Mica commented "it looks like sort of an inside job of investigation, the Department of State looking at the Department of State." Mica also commented that the ARB did not interview Clinton for its report.
Pavlich, who was commenting on the hearing through her Twitter account, seized on this fact to criticize the ARB report, calling it a "whitewash":
Pavlich later made the same point in a post on Townhall.com, where she's an editor, this time to impugn the independence of the board:
During the hearing, Republican Rep. John Mica pointed out Clinton appointed four out of the five members of the ARB board investigating the Benghazi attack. The ARB describes itself as "independent."
But the secretary of state is required by federal law to appoint four of the five members of an Accountability Review Board:
A Board shall consist of five members, 4 appointed by the Secretary of State, and 1 appointed by the Director of Central Intelligence. The Secretary of State shall designate the Chairperson of the Board. Members of the Board who are not Federal officers or employees shall each be paid at a rate not to exceed the maximum rate of basic pay payable for level GS-18 of the General Schedule for each day (including travel time) during which they are engaged in the actual performance of duties vested in the Board. Members of the Board who are Federal officers or employees shall receive no additional pay by reason of such membership.
Pavlich has previously smeared Clinton over the Benghazi attack on Fox News.
Fox Business is crying foul over Environmental Protection Agency-hosted climate change lesson plans, which it calls "propaganda." However, the material is aligned with the National Research Council, reflects the view of the overwhelming majority of climate scientists, and covers many topics that conservative media have flagrantly misreported in the past.
The lesson plans, which have been available online to middle school educators for months, drew conservative ire after a tweet from the EPA appeared on Fox contributor Michelle Malkin's social media aggregation site, Twitchy.com, on September 12. By the next morning, it was considered big enough news that Fox News contributor Monica Crowley covered it on Varney & Company, asking, "Are they going to tell these kids to not exhale? Because every time you exhale, that's carbon dioxide."
Equally uncontroversial is the view that industrial activities -- particularly the burning of fossil fuels for energy -- have led to a surplus of life-supporting gases like carbon dioxide, which has made the planet hotter -- too hot, in fact. Even many prominent climate deniers acknowledge this much.
It is no surprise that the EPA's lesson plans are grounded in good, basic science; they were adapted from material designed by preeminent scientific institutions including the National Center for Atmospheric Research, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The material is also aligned with the National Research Council's National Science Education Standards.
Fox figures would do well to take a look at these plans. Here are three issues they cover that have proven tricky for them in the past:
A Wall Street Journal editorial pushed the myth that a Department of Justice lawsuit against credit rating agency Standard & Poor's (S&P) is retaliation for the company downgrading the U.S.'s credit rating, failing to note experts' explanations that the suit is likely a test case that may be used to bolster future action against other credit rating agencies and that the suit predates S&P's downgrade.
Fox News host Brian Kilmeade falsely asserted that State Department official Patrick Kennedy was not interviewed during an investigation into the September 2012 attack on a U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya that killed a U.S. ambassador and three security personnel. In fact, Kennedy was interviewed by the State Department's Accountability Review Board (ARB).
In a September 4 Fox & Friends interview with Samuel Katz and Fred Burton, authors of Under Fire: The Untold Story of the Attack in Benghazi, Kilmeade asked Burton who he would have interviewed had he been running the investigation into the attack. Kilmeade's questioning asserted that State Department Undersecretary for Management Patrick Kennedy was never interviewed about the attack:
KILMEADE: You want Patrick Kennedy, too?
BURTON: I think Patrick Kennedy should be interviewed. I think Patrick Kennedy is all over this case.
But Kennedy was interviewed by the ARB, which was conducted by Ambassador Thomas Pickering and former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen. On May 12, Pickering told CNN's Candy Crowley "[w]e interviewed Pat Kennedy" in response to criticism from Republicans that the ARB report was incomplete. Furthermore, Congressman Gerald Connolly (D-VA) said during a May 8 House Oversight Committee hearing:
By the way, defend in statements that Undersecretary Kennedy was not interviewed by the ARB by Ambassador Pickering and Admiral Mullen. That is a misstatement of fact. He most certainly was. You can look it up. It is documented. He was interviewed, and he provided evidence. And that evidence was evaluated.
So it is not true that Undersecretary Kennedy was not part of that process. He most certainly was, and I would ask Mr. Chairman that the record so reflect.
Fox News host Greta Van Susteren even tweeted Rep. Connolly's statement at the hearing:
Despite this Benghazi myth being debunked months ago, Fox & Friends hosts and guests continue to insist that a top State Department official was never interviewed about the Benghazi attack just to dishonestly attack the Obama administration.
From the August 21 edition of Fox News' Hannity:
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A day after a Democratic congressman revealed further evidence that the IRS targeted progressive groups, Fox News is still ignoring the story by continuing to suggest that the IRS targeted only conservative groups.
The August 20 edition of On the Record and the August 21 edition of Fox & Friends both highlighted a lawsuit filed against the IRS that seeks to review the agency's guidelines for determining whether an organization deserves tax-exempt status, following reports that the agency inappropriately imposed extra scrutiny on conservative organizations. But in neither of the segments, which together devoted a total of six minutes to the topic, did Fox find the time to mention the fact that new evidence released August 20 effectively ends the IRS "scandal" the network has been hyping for months.
On August 20, Salon reported that the new documents reinforced evidence proving the IRS targeted progressive groups as well:
We already know that the IRS targeted progressive groups in addition to Tea Party ones, but new information released today adds further details, showing that the tax agency also targeted "ACORN successors" and left-leaning "Emerge" groups. Emerge Nevada, Emerge Maine and Emerge Massachusetts were the only groups to have their applications actually denied 501(c)4 tax-exempt status. Conservative groups had their applications delayed, in some cases for over a year, but not rejected outright.
Democrats say the new information should put to rest any lingering embers of the IRS scandal. "This new information should put a nail in the coffin of the Republican claims that the IRS's actions were politically motivated or were targeted at only one side of the political spectrum," said Elijah Cummings, the Maryland Democrat who is the ranking member on the House Oversight Committee.
The term "Emerge" had been redacted from an earlier version of a document released by the IRS, but was present on a newer version made available today. The new documents also showed that successors to ACORN, the liberal grass-roots organizing group that became a bugaboo of conservatives and that Congress defunded (again and again). The instructions on "ACORN successors" came on a BOLO (be on the lookout) list that included healthcare organizations, medical marijuana groups, newspapers, open source technology groups and other non-political organizations.
A day later, Fox News has yet to report on these revelations.
Fox News criticized Secretary of State John Kerry for inconsistency in his decision to reinstate four State Department officials who were suspended in the wake of the September 2012 attacks on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, but ignored findings from the State Department's Accountability Review Board that supported Kerry's determination that no employees' actions were grounds for termination.
On August 19, The Daily Beast reported that Kerry decided to reinstate the four State Department employees who had been put on administrative leave in the aftermath of the Benghazi attacks. The decision came after a review by Kerry and some of his top aides confirmed the State Department's Accountability Review Board's (ARB) finding that "no employee breached their duty or should be fired." Though the suspended officials would not face formal punishment, the review did not find them "blameless," and in accordance with ARB recommendations, all four will be reassigned.
On the August 20 edition of Fox & Friends, co-host Brian Kilmeade cited the initial ARB report before suggesting that the move to reinstate the suspended employees ignores its results [emphasis added]:
ANNA KOOIMAN [co-host]: Again, mid-level, not the top. We haven't seen any arrests from any of this. And these people, yes, they're back on the job, which is good for them, they feel, I imagine. But they have been publicly humiliated and been targeted and identified as being responsible in some ways over the last eight months. And is this fair to them?
KILMEADE: Well Tom Pickering and Admiral Mullen evidently put together a report the administration accepted and embraced, and they concluded that these mid-level guys didn't tell the people above them. All right. So they were relieved temporarily. Told to hand in their badges. Then they got word yesterday, come to work on Tuesday. So who is right? Was it a bad report, bad conclusions put together by Mullen and Pickering, or are they being ignored now by the the Secretary of State, Kerry, which means that he has a better inquiry, better than the one that was commissioned by the administration?
If Kilmeade had taken the time to review the ARB report, he would have known that it "did not find reasonable cause to determine that any individual U.S. government employee breached his or her duty." In fact, Kerry's review "reaffirmed" the ARB's findings and largely supported the Department's eventual decision to assign some blame but not proceed with formal disciplinary action. From the ARB:
The Board found that certain senior State Department officials within two bureaus demonstrated a lack of proactive leadership and management ability in their responses to security concerns posed by Special Mission Benghazi, given the deteriorating threat environment and the lack of reliable host government protection. However, the Board did not find reasonable cause to determine that any individual U.S. government employee breached his or her duty.
Fox Business is claiming that because 2013 Arctic sea ice extent is unlikely to beat the 2012 record low, melting in the region is "slowing," an idea one climate scientist called "absolutely ridiculous" in the context of a long-term decline.
On Wednesday, Fox Business' Charles Payne launched a segment on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) State of the Climate report by claiming that the agency "has forgotten to mention ... that 2012 was one of the coolest years of the decade," thereby "slowing down the melting of Arctic ice this summer."
This statement was based on a lack of understanding of "regression to the mean" -- or in the case of climate change, regression to the new mean. This and other mathematical concepts seem to give Fox a lot of trouble.
Unfortunately for baby harp seals, Payne is wrong about Arctic sea ice melt "slowing" -- it seems he either didn't grasp the aforementioned idea or didn't read NOAA's report very carefully. The State of the Climate found record low Arctic sea ice extent in 2012 and included this chart illustrating monthly trends compared to the 1979-2000 average:
As Skeptical Science explained, it's unsurprising that 2013 will not likely beat that record low if you consider "regression toward the mean":
[N]ote that neither [of two statistical predictions for 2013 Arctic sea ice extent] predicts that 2013 will break the 2012 record (3.6 million square kilometers). There is a principle in statistics known as "regression toward the mean," which is the phenomenon that if an extreme value of a variable is observed, the next measurement will generally be less extreme, i.e. we should not expect to observe record lows in consecutive years. This is because when extremes are reached and records are broken, a number of different variables generally have to align in the same direction to make this happen.
Fox News contributor Charles Krauthammer claimed Attorney General Eric Holder's directive that federal prosecutors omit evidence that would trigger mandatory minimum sentences for some non-violent drug offenders is unlawful and reflects a pattern of "repeated lawlessness" by the Obama administration. But Holder is simply advising prosecutors to use their already-existing power to decide what evidence to include in their cases.
Fox News took the Interior Secretary's remarks on the urgency of climate change out of context to claim that the Obama administration is engaged in a "witch hunt" to purge climate deniers from the agency.
Fox & Friends hosted contributor Michelle Malkin Tuesday to suggest that Interior Secretary Sally Jewell is planning on conducting a "witch hunt" because she said she "hope[s] there are no climate change deniers in the Department of the Interior." Malkin added that Jewell was "talking like a cult leader" and insinuated that the administration is full of "eco-zombies."
But extended video from the meeting undermines this attack. Jewell was not trying to intimidate anyone; rather, she was emphasizing the signs of climate change already evident on our public lands, and encouraging the department to heed those signs and address the broader issue through renewable energy leasing and other measures.
Here's what Jewell actually said and how Fox News clipped the video to make it seem like she was announcing a "witch hunt":
JEWELL: I hope there are no climate change deniers in the Department of the Interior. If you don't believe in it, come out into the resources, go on to some [federal] land, go to Alaska where the permafrost is melting, go into the Sierra, which used to retain a lot more water in its frozen form that's now running off the hillsides quicker, and we don't have the storage capacity to be able to serve the downstream users like the demand requires. We have far-reaching impacts in every part of the department, but we are in a unique position to actually be able to do something about it. How exciting is that?