Fox News' strategy for assembling a stable of commentators appears to follow this pattern: find the biggest possible failure in an area of expertise and ask them to comment on that topic. When there's a story involving responses to disasters, they call in "heckuva job" Michael Brown; Mark Fuhrman is the network's "forensic and crime scene expert" and the guy they turn to for discussions of race and law enforcement; Judith Miller appears regularly on Fox News' media criticism program.
Nonetheless, the network's use this afternoon of serial fabricator J. Christian Adams for commentary on recent stories involving the Department of Justice is so pathetically absurd that it leads us to ask the question: Is it possible that this is all some sort of joke?
You may remember that it was almost a year ago when Fox News first introduced Adams to the world on America Live, the same program on which he appeared today. At the time, Adams was an obscure lawyer and writer for websites like Pajamas Media and American Spectator who had served for a few years in the Bush administration's Justice Department Civil Rights Division.
Adams had an explosive, but entirely unsubstantiated story: that DOJ improperly dismissed voter-intimidation charges against members of the New Black Panther Party for political reasons, namely an unwillingness to protect white voters from intimidation by black defendants. It being Fox News, and given that the story was critical of the Obama administration, the network put the emphasis on the "explosive" and kept quiet about the "unsubstantiated." Adams' lengthy two-part interview with Megyn Kelly, and the wall-to-wall coverage the story would receive on the network over the following month, catapulted Adams into political relevance.
But even as Fox was promoting Adams' allegations, it quickly became clear that his story didn't add up[[,]] and that he was in fact a political hack whose goal was to damage the Obama administration and the Justice Department. Soon even Fox News pundits were pushing back on the network's obsessive coverage of Adams' tale, while other media clued into the way that Fox's coverage seemed obviously agenda-driven.
One year later, Adams is completely discredited, a fabulist whose obsession with bringing down the Obama Justice Department consistently leads him far from the facts. Except on Fox News, where he's apparently the person they turn to for commentary on what DOJ is up to.
Take a look. Make sure to pay special attention to the parts where a) Adams compares current DOJ "scandals" to the New Black Panthers case, as if that story hadn't been thoroughly repudiated and b) the host closes the interview by saying of Adams, "we know that you know so well the culture inside the DOJ":
The evidence continues to mount that no comments are too outrageous for Fox News.
Earlier this week, syndicated radio host Neal Boortz went on an extended, racially charged tirade about crime and "too many urban thugs, yo" in Atlanta:
You know what? I, for one, am tired of putting up with this crap. And you want to know why I moved out of Atlanta and only spend a couple of weeks a year in this town? That's one of the reasons. Carjackings, violence, people getting shot. It's ridiculous. This city harbors an urban culture of violence. And I want you to look around. You drive into the city. The railroad overpass is on the downtown connector covered with graffiti. And that-- That is just an advertisement for everybody coming into this town that we really don't give a damn about those who would screw up our quality of life around here. We really just don't care. We don't care enough to paint over graffiti on the overpasses that come into our city, advertising welcome to Atlanta, here's some of our finest graffiti, from some of our finest urban thugs and their little gang signs. And pick up the paper tomorrow morning. Read about all the carjackings. Read about the innocent people shot for the pure de-hell of it.
This town is starting to look like a garbage heap. And we got too damn many urban thugs, yo, ruining the quality of life for everybody. And I'll tell you what it's gonna take. You people, you are - you need to have a gun. You need to have training. You need to know how to use that gun. You need to get a permit to carry that gun. And you do in fact need to carry that gun and we need to see some dead thugs littering the landscape in Atlanta. We need to see the next guy that tries to carjack you shot dead right where he stands. We need more dead thugs in this city. And let their -- let their mommas -- let their mommas say, "He was a good boy. He just fell in with the good crowd." And then lock her ass up.
While Boortz has been criticized for his "reckless, stupid" and "racist" comments, the right-wing provocateur found a welcoming home on Fox News today to discuss the economy.
This just one week after Fox's Eric Bolling came under fire for using racially charged language portraying hip-hop artist Common and the president of Gabon as a couple of the "hoods" that President Obama has hosted in "the hizzy." Fox News proclaimed that the controversy surrounding Bolling's comments was closed after Bolling issued a shamefully dishonest apology.
The decision to host Boortz also comes just days after Fox's Glenn Beck appeared to point to an image of President Obama after asking, "Why would you get a gun?" Beck's comments likewise fell into the accountability vacuum that is Fox News.
Given Fox's willingness to sanction in-house race bating and outrageous on-air discourse, it's only logical that they continue giving their imprimatur to those who spread the same message.
From the June 17 edition of Fox News' America Live:
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Continuing its pattern of hyping ridiculous conspiracy theories to attack the Obama administration, Fox News baselessly suggested that the ATF's Operation Fast and Furious was deliberately designed to go badly in order to justify stricter U.S. gun laws. In fact, even a report prepared for House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) refutes this theory.
While guest hosting the Fox News show America Live, Fox & Friends co-host Gretchen Carlson claimed that Republican Texas Governor Rick Perry "turned away the federal stimulus money." In fact, despite initially refusing a portion of stimulus funds, Perry ultimately accepted much of the money for his state.
Download Fox News' brand new iPad app and you'll notice something curious: there's an ExxonMobil advertisement on nearly every page, sometimes filling the whole screen. Click on it and you can watch a video of a smiling ExxonMobil geologist touting the natural gas boom. As the tech news website Mashable reported, this is because "Exxon is the exclusive launch partner for Fox News' iPad app":
"We decided we wanted to work with one sponsor," [Fox News' Jeremy] Steinberg said, explaining that there are always question marks surrounding a launch, so Fox News wanted a partner comfortable with that. He said Exxon, which is in the midst of a new branding campaign, thought the app was a perfect platform for broadcasting its message.
It makes sense that one of the biggest funders of interest groups that obfuscate the threat posed by global warming would team up with the news outlet that has done more than any other to promote misinformation about climate science.
The partnership further undermines ExxonMobil's 2008 pledge to stop funding groups "whose positions on climate change could divert attention" from the need to develop secure, clean energy. As an internal email revealed last year, it has been the policy of Fox News to question even the basic fact that the planet has warmed in recent decades.
Climate change is not the only issue on which ExxonMobil might find Fox News' coverage agreeable. Last month in the midst of both soaring profits for big oil and attempts by Congressional Democrats to roll back oil companies' tax breaks, ExxonMobil's spin could be heard on Fox News.
With the notable exception of Bill O'Reilly, many on Fox eagerly passed along talking points first outlined by ExxonMobil vice president of public affairs Ken Cohen in a series of blog posts designed to preempt any backlash against Exxon's massive first quarter earnings report.
Right-wing media have attacked President Obama for his decision to stop receiving daily in-person economic briefings. In fact, Obama still receives a daily economic briefing on paper and regularly meets with members of his economic team as well as outside economists and experts.
From the June 8 edition of Fox News' America Live:
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Fox News' America Live repeated the accusation that undocumented immigrants have increased crime rates in Hazleton, Pennsylvannia. However, America Live failed to report that the there is no evidence supporting the accusation, or that there is no evidence that undocumented immigrants have higher crime rates nationwide.
From the June 7 edition of Fox News' America Live:
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From the June 6 edition of Fox News' America Live:
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There's been a lot of hand-wringing from the right-wing media this week about a possible "double-dip" recession. See Dick Morris on yesterday's Fox & Friends, during an epic rant about how President Obama can't possibly win a second term:
MORRIS: I think that Obama definitely can be defeated and will be defeated. I think that the -- it is impossible for him to avoid blame for this economy. At some point, does this guy look in the mirror and understand that everything he's done about the economy is wrong? That he's causing the second housing crisis by cutting out the mortgage interest deduction, that he's causing this double-dip recession by threatening tax increases on consumers? Doesn't he understand that he's causing the deficit with this gigantic government spending?
Or witness this exchange between guest host Martha MacCallum and Fox Business host Stuart Varney on the June 2 broadcast on America Live:
MacCALLUM: A lot of folks in the financial world very concerned that the economy is actually getting weaker at this point. They're dropping words like meltdown, double-dip recession and even depression. Just today we got word out for the new unemployment claims. They dropped by about 6,000 last week. Economists were expecting those claims to fall by almost twice that number. So here is the big number for today -- 422,000 people walked into unemployment offices and filed for claims for the first time last week.
Stuart Varney joins me now, of the Fox Business Network. Stuart, what's going on here? Why are we still struggling so much?
VARNEY: All of a sudden, the economy seems to have hit a brick wall and is weakening on all fronts. Let's go through them. Housing prices down 33 percent from a couple of years ago and still falling. Manufacturing orders falling off a cliff very recently.
[A]nd this economy is growing at less than 2 percent per year. That's almost at stalling speed for an economy which is supposed to be roaring out of a recovery. Martha, that is why you've got people like Robert Reich, former labor secretary under President Clinton, saying that we are, indeed, heading towards a double-dip recession. Big negatives on the economy.
It is indeed true that economist Robert Reich recently penned a gloomy Financial Times op-ed, though what he wrote was, "It is unlikely that America will find itself back in recession but the possibility of a double dip cannot be dismissed."
What does Reich, who served in three administrations and was Secretary of Labor under President Clinton, think is causing our economic woes? From his op-ed (emphasis added):
During Fox News' coverage of Secure Communities, a deportation program begun under the Bush administration, Fox pushed the idea that opting out of the program would create "sanctuary states" for dangerous undocumented immigrants. In fact, a large proportion of individuals who are detained and deported by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement carry only misdemeanors and minor infractions or have no criminal conviction or background.
On Fox News, radio host Lars Larson repeated the myths that immigrants commit a disproportionate amount of crime and that the Obama administration "has not been great on deportations." In fact, data don't support the claim that undocumented immigrants have high crime rates; moreover, under Obama, deportations are at an all-time high.
During the debate over Rep. Paul Ryan's plan to phase out Medicare, conservatives in the media have revived the misleading claim that the Affordable Care Act contained "$500 billion in Medicare cuts." In fact, the "cuts" will come through eliminating parts of Medicare "seen as ineffective or wasteful," and experts predict that the quality of care under Medicare will not be shortchanged.