There's no surer indication that Fox has entered full campaign season than seeing recycled attacks on President Obama explode all over the network. Though attacks on Obama are not uncommon on Fox, in the past few weeks, hosts and guests have resurrected one of the old myths of campaign 2008 -- that Obama, as contributor Steve Moore put it on Tuesday, is "driven by an ideology that says redistribute the income."
Though Moore prefaced his remarks by saying, "I don't know President Obama very well, personally. I've met him once or twice," he nevertheless continued:
I believe that he is focused -- he is driven by an ideology that says redistribute the income. And in fact, everything this president has done has really been about redistributing income from rich people to poor people. Instead of growing the economy and creating wealth, they want to redistribute wealth. That's why he wants to tax the people who make over $250,000. That's why he wants to, you know, have the high tax on corporations.
Bill O'Reilly furthered the myth Thursday on his show as well, saying to Republican Sen. Jim DeMint, "Is there an element in your opinion of income redistribution here -- because I firmly believe that the president sees American society in a way that the wealthy have an obligation to help those who don't have a lot. And therefore," he continued, "if we raise the tax rates on the wealthy, that income redistribution -- and that's what Obamacare is all about -- kicks in." O'Reilly then went on to advocate for the Republican idea of a flat tax.
If you'll recall, this myth was a staple of right-wing media attacks on Obama in October 2008, based in part on a Drudge Report falsehood. Fox aggressively promoted the false story, with Sean Hannity blasting it far and wide. We now know, of course, that an effort was underway at Fox at the time to tie Obama to socialism in the month leading up to the presidential election -- an effort that often tracked claims that Obama was driven by a desire to "redistribute wealth."
It's worth asking whether a similar effort is underway at this very moment.
On Wednesday, the falsehood appeared on Fox no less than three separate times, with Eric Bolling devoting the first 10 minutes of his Fox Business show to advancing the myth that Obama is "spreading socialism." Bolling used White House press secretary Jay Carney's recent comments that Americans "want us to get something done that's sensible, that spreads the sacrifice and spreads the prosperity," to say, "Hmm, spreading the prosperity sounds a lot like spreading the wealth. ... Spread the wealth, spread the prosperity."
Bolling hosted pundit Ann Coulter, who furthered the attack on Obama, agreeing with Bolling's suggestion that "spread the prosperity" is "some sort of code" for "progressive socialism." Coulter replied in part by saying:
There's no reason for the government to be controlling our pensions or our public schools or even the mail, rather than private systems. But as I describe in Demonic, it goes back to the French Revolution and Robespierre. Some men will always feel like they're in possession of the general will and if only they can control everything, they'll know how to distribute it just fine -- well, as with Obamacare.
Bolling then suggested that Obama is moving the country toward a system where "it's in the government's hands and don't worry, they'll take care of you if you need help. We'll get you a house, a car, and maybe even a pony." Coulter agreed, saying that "there's no question that the country is becoming more socialist under Obama."
In a later segment with former Rep. Alan Grayson, Bolling suggested that the government would have to subsidize the lifestyle of middle class families, including paying for a home, a car, health care, and a pension. At one point, he added, "Where's the pony? ... I want a baseball team. Can't I have a baseball team?"
Likewise, on Fox Business' America's Nightly Scoreboard, host David Asman accused the Obama administration of purportedly being "more interested in income redistribution than they are in creating jobs." And on Varney & Co., Fox Business anchor Tracy Byrnes called the idea of "spreading some of this difficulty around," "socialist crap," adding, "You don't want the country to become that. You do not want this country to become that -- this distribution of wealth has got to stop. The notion that I should -- you know, we should all feel the same pain? I work really hard."
Other recent examples include:
- Lou Dobbs: "[T]he government is talking about redistribution of wealth. The president makes no secret of it. He's talked about redistribution of wealth." Dobbs later suggested Obama is engaging in "class warfare." [Lou Dobbs Tonight, 7/1/11, via Nexis]
- Steven Hayes: "President Obama has clearly been one of the most left- wing President's certainly in the past 50 years, I would argue in the past century in terms of what he has done to expand the size and scope of Government, to redistribute income here at home, to redistribute power abroad." [The Willis Report, 7/1/11, via Nexis]
- Stuart Varney: "I don't think that the President can change course and I don't think he will change course. ... If you roll back all these tax increases and attach proposals then you're getting and cutting right to the heart of the President's wealth redistribution program." [The O'Reilly Factor, 6/29/11, via Nexis]
- Sean Hannity: "Isn't the biggest problem that the economy has failed under this Keynesian socialist, redistributed model of the president?" [Hannity, 6/20/11, via Nexis]
- Glenn Beck: "Today with our various programs, our regulations, our tax policies, the government is trying to redistribute the wealth and keep people from failing. They're going to fail. I have a right to fail. But honestly, it is in my failing that I found my salvation. It is an effort to make everyone equal in their possessions and it is wrong. We see it with ObamaCare. We see it -- watch this -- from the president in higher taxes for the wealthy." [Glenn Beck, 6/15/11, via Nexis]