On ABC's This Week, George Will and Laura Ingraham engaged in a bit of revisionism to try to distance conservative billionaire Joe Ricketts from an incendiary plan to re-manufacture the Rev. Jeremiah Wright controversy, and in the process accused the New York Times of journalistic malpractice. Will claimed that Ricketts, who commissioned the plan, immediately repudiated the proposal, while Ingraham asserted that he "didn't even see" it. In fact, the proposal stated that Ricketts had given "preliminary approval" of the plan and commissioned it in part because he thought it was a mistake that John McCain's campaign refused to use Wright to attack Obama in 2008.
During a discussion of the plan, which was made public by the New York Times, Will claimed that Ricketts "repudiated [the proposal] the instant he saw it." Will went on to accuse the Times of fudging the facts of Ricketts' involvement because "it didn't fit their narrative: billionaire behaving responsibly."
Fellow panelist Ingraham added: "As far as I know, he didn't even see this proposal -- I believe, George -- and the idea that he was considering it was a total false narrative put forward by the New York Times to send a message to other people, don't you dare get involved in this election in any type of, quote, 'controversial,' way."
But their contentions aren't supported by the facts.
From the April 27 edition of Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto:
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The conservative hosts of Fox News' The Five acted horrified at House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's statement that she wants to "amend the Constitution" to reverse the Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United v. FEC, a decision that Pelosi said "flies in the face of our founders' vision." The Fox hosts acted as if this was a radical idea, but Fox hosts and congressional Republicans have repeatedly proposed amending the Constitution.
Fox News continued its history of favorable treatment of Herman Cain with a nearly half-hour long interview that completely ignored questions that have reportedly been raised about the legality of early funding to Cain's presidential campaign.
On October 30, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that Cain's two top campaign staffers ran a non-profit group that paid for early campaign expenses, which "might breach federal tax and campaign law." The article further reported:
Election law experts say the transactions raise a host of questions for the private organization, which billed itself as a tax-exempt nonprofit, and the Cain team.
"If the records accurately reflect what occurred, this is way out of bounds," said a Washington, D.C.-based election lawyer who advises many Republican candidates and conservative groups on campaign issues. The lawyer asked not to be identified because of those affiliations.
The Washington Post reported on October 31 "Such payments are forbidden under federal tax and election laws, because nonprofit charities are not allowed to donate money or services to political campaigns, according to election law experts." On November 7, the Journal Sentinel further reported that federal investigators were under pressure from outside groups to investigate financial transactions connected to the Cain campaign.
Fox in general, and Neil Cavuto in particular, promoted Cain for months before he announced a run for president, dating back to April 2010. In September 2010, Cain himself noted that "Neil has been trying to drag" a presidential announcement "out of me for months now." Cain has also called Cavuto "one of my closest friends."
So it's no surprise that when Cavuto aired a pre-recorded interview of Cain on Friday which took up half of his Fox News show, Cavuto never mentioned reports that Cain's campaign may have violated federal election and tax laws.
From the October 17 edition of Fox News' Happening Now:
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On his Fox News show tonight, Sean Hannity attacked President Obama for hosting a birthday fundraiser, claiming that Obama was "turning his back on the American people" at a time when the nation is struggling with debt and a slow economy.
During the segment, Hannity aired a graphic prepared by the "Fox News Brainroom" that claimed Obama had headlined 37 "re-election fundraisers" "to date," while President George W. Bush had only headlined three fundraisers "as of June 2003."
First of all, the numbers shown for Bush are simply untrue.
In June 2003 -- shortly after Bush had declared "Mission Accomplished" in Iraq, but with fierce fighting still going on in the country -- Bush headlined re-election fundraisers on June 17, June 20, and June 23. Bush then capped off the month with two fundraisers on June 27.
Note to Fox's "Brainroom": That's five fundraisers in June 2003 alone. And these are just the events in which Bush made a speech that was posted on his White House website.
How is it possible to claim, as a Sunlight Foundation report does, that the "biggest all-time recipient of contributions from News Corp is President Obama"? By treating the contributions of individual employees the same as corporate contributions, even though they're not.
The Sunlight Foundation forwards that confusion. After making the claim about Obama being "the biggest all-time recipient of contributions," it adds: "It should be noted that the totals for News Corp's contributions also include money from employees of the organization and their family members." But the private contributions employees make cannot be said to speak for the corporation they work for, and lumping them all together leads to false conclusions -- among them, that News Corp. made corporate contributions to Obama.
If it seems like Obama got a lot of money from News Corp. employees, that's because he got a lot of money from a lot of people in 2008.
The Sunlight report doesn't explain that there was a massive increase in fundraising during the 2008 campaign cycle. For instance, the Federal Election Commission noted in a June 8, 2009, press release that "[f]inancial activity of 2008 presidential candidates and national party convention committees increased 80% in receipts over the 2004 presidential election."
Misleading claims, however, have a way of making it into the media, and that's what has happened with Sunlight's claims. A blog post at The Hill picking up Sunlight's research carries the headline "Report: Obama top recipient of News Corp. donations." Like Sunlight, The Hill lumped together corporate and individual contributions.
Such misportrayals of political contributions are all too common. Last year, during the BP oil spill, some in the media asserted that Obama was "the single largest recipient of BP's cash" during the 2008 presidential campaign, omitting that the money came from individual employees, not the corporation itself.
From the July 14 edition of Fox News' Special Report:
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In a CBSNews.com article, CBS White House correspondent Mark Knoller decides to play it cute, combining the totally unrelated topics of the deficit and President Obama's recently announced fundraising numbers.
Despite government deficit, Obama campaign flush with cash
The federal government faces financial default, but the Obama re-election campaign is flush.
Campaign Manager Jim Messina sent a video to campaign supporters early this morning that the Obama Victory Fund had raised over $86 million in the first three months of its operations: April through June.
Conveniently the remainder of the article never again mentions the deficit. This may be because the two numbers have nothing to do with each other.
In case CBS is unclear, here's a refresher -- the budget deficit is a calculation of the spending and receipts of the entire U.S. federal government. By comparison, the fundraising announced from the Obama campaign comes from money citizens have donated to a presidential campaign. Money is involved in both, but they are unrelated.
From the May 17 edition of Fox Business' Follow the Money:
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From the April 29 edition of Fox News' Special Report:
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From the March 4 edition of Fox News' Glenn Beck:
Last year, five potential Republican presidential candidates (Newt Gingrich, Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin, John Bolton, and Rick Santorum) who also serve as Fox News contributors or hosts appeared on the network for more than 85 hours. Media Matters for America estimates this time to be worth approximately $54.7 million in free advertising.
Naturally, the Fox Nation headline bears no relation to the headline on the Politico article itself: "Barack Obama's 2012 cash challenge." In fact, the first paragraph of the article highlights the reason that the Obama team needs to raise so much money -- because conservative groups outside the Republican Party are set to pour a ton of money into the 2012 campaign:
Bracing for a half-billion-dollar onslaught of outside GOP cash in 2012, President Barack Obama's advisers are quietly working to bring back together the major donor base that produced a record-breaking fundraising haul in his first run for president.
Indeed, Bloomberg reported that "Republican-leaning political organizations" -- including American Crossroads, the organization promoted by Fox News' own Karl Rove -- "spent $167 million on the U.S. midterm elections."
It may not qualify as such for tax purposes, but one of those outside groups is Fox News itself.
From January through October last year, five potential GOP presidential candidates who are Fox News contributors or hosts for appeared on the channel for a total of nearly 66 hours. Media Matters estimated that this time was worth at least $40 million in advertising costs.
Fox News political analyst Dick Morris even celebrated the fact that Fox will give Republican candidates "national publicity" they otherwise couldn't afford.
Don't act so surprised, Fox Nation.
Today Glenn Beck's The Blaze turned to "Zubi Diamond, author of The Wizards of Wall Street" in order to push the claim that George Soros may be "betting on U.S. financial collapse." According to Diamond, Soros' agenda is "to destroy capitalism."
That the Blaze would turn to Diamond to further Beck's smear campaign against Soros is telling: Diamond's self-published book is littered smears of George Soros that are rooted in anti-Semitic stereotypes, including calling Soros the "mastermind" behind of a "cabal of slithery rich" who "visited financial violence on the American people to get Barack Obama elected."
Did someone say "puppet master?"
Excerpts after the jump.