A Fox News timeline stripped more than six years of the Iraq War from the record in order to link escalating violence in Iraq to decisions made by the Obama administration.
This week an extremist group called the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) seized control of Iraq's second-largest city, Mosul, and vowed to march on more top targets like Baghdad. In response, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki called for a state of emergency and appealed for U.S. military assistance by way of airstrikes.
The June 12 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom attempted to tie the escalating violence to President Obama and the decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq. As an illustration, anchor Patti Ann Browne laid out a timeline of U.S. engagement in Iraq, and eventual withdrawal -- a timeline that eliminated over six years of critical moments, agreements, and damaging scandals from the record:
BROWNE: It's been a long battle to liberate Iraq. It was over a decade ago in October 2002 that Congress agreed to U.S. involvement in Iraq. That was followed by President Bush signing Authorization of Military Force.
BROWNE: Then in March 2003, shock and awe. The United States launching strikes against Baghdad after the deadline for Saddam Hussein's exile expired.
BROWNE: Fast forward to 2007, President Bush announced the surge, the deployment of 30,000 additional troops to Iraq.
BROWNE: And then, the end. 2011. President Obama announcing the end of the Iraq War and saying troops will be withdrawn by the end of that year.
Fox's timeline glosses over years of crucial events in the war. Noticeably absent:
May 1, 2003: President Bush declared "Mission Accomplished" in Iraq from the deck of an aircraft carrier, less than two months after U.S. troops entered the country and toppled Saddam Hussein's regime.
January 25, 2004: Former CIA weapons inspector testified that the U.S. intelligence community failed to determine that the Iraqi weapons program was in a state of disarray prior to the U.S. invasion of the country.
April 30, 2004: Photographs emerged showing American soldiers torturing and abusing Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison. At least 11 U.S. military police personnel went on to serve prison sentences for the crimes.
June 28, 2004: U.S. officials transferred formal sovereignty of Iraq to Iraqi leaders.
November 17, 2008: U.S. and Iraqi Parliament ratified a status of forces agreement that mandated the end of 2011 as the date by which American troops must leave Iraq.
Fox News ran with the unsubstantiated and explicitly discredited claim that the U.S. might have paid a cash ransom to an Afghani militant group in exchange for the recent release of an American soldier, an assertion that has been repeatedly denied by the White House.
During the June 9 edition of America's Newsroom, co-host Martha MacCallum and Fox's senior political analyst Brit Hume hypothesized that in addition to releasing five Guantanamo Bay detainees in exchange for the release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the U.S. may have paid a cash ransom to the Haqqani network, Bergdahl's captors. Hume claimed that because the Haqqani network "is interested in money," "that gives rise to the question, which the administration has yet to answer, as to whether in addition to the release of these five Taliban prisoners, some ransom was paid."
MacCallum ran with the ransom idea:
MACCALLUM: A lot of layers and a lot of questions. And I would imagine Congress would have questions about that money as well.
HUME: Of course.
MACCALLUM: Whether or not they would have been put in the loop on that, right?
HUME: Sooner or later that question's going to be asked to somebody under oath, or perhaps the administration may come out and say, 'Yes, in addition we paid X amount of money to get this guy freed because we thought it was so important. And we'll see how people react to that.
MACCALLUM: But that raises the question then, why would you need to release these Taliban prisoners if that was part of the deal? And that goes back to perhaps some of these other questions about --
HUME: Well if it turns out that ransom was paid -- and this is speculation -- if it turns out ransom was paid, and that was what did the trick, that really does, as you suggest Martha, sharpen the question of well, why did you need to release these Taliban starting-five, as they've been called by some people?
Fox even floated their theory in the following segment with Republican Congressman Kevin McCarthy (CA), asking McCarthy, "What about this other question with the money ... how will you get to the bottom of the question whether or not money was exchanged?"
It's a conspiracy theory that parrots Fox contributor Oliver North's unsourced speculation that "somebody paid a ransom" for Bergdahl -- and one that has already been explicitly debunked.
The White House has flatly denied that money was exchanged for Bergdahl's release. While a ransom was previously considered as a possibility in the prisoner swap negotiations, a National Security Staff spokesperson explicitly denied the idea last week, according to the Houston Chronicle:
The White House countered Rep. Steve Stockman, R-Clear Lake, in a statement Friday after the congressman had questioned whether President Barack Obama paid ransom for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl's release.
"The United States did not provide money in return for Sgt. Bergdahl," National Security Staff spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said.
In fact, after Fox's lengthy speculation, an official White House Twitter account reiterated the fact that no cash was exchanged in response to right-wing claims:
From the June 6 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom:
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After endlessly politicizing the Benghazi terror attack for the past 20 months, Fox News is doing an about face, accusing Hillary Clinton of politicizing the issue after she called out the media and politicians for exploiting the tragedy.
On May 30, Politico released an excerpt from Hillary Clinton's forthcoming book, in which the former-secretary of state wrote that she refuses to "be a part of a political slugfest on the backs of dead Americans" and denounces using Benghazi as a "political tool." Clinton also described the "regrettable amount of misinformation, speculation, and flat-out deceit by some in politics and the media" that has contributed to the politicization of the crisis.
The excerpt provoked the ire of Fox News, which has led the charge in politicizing the Benghazi attacks. In particular, the network has leveraged the Benghazi attacks in a transparent attempt to smear Clinton's credibility and tarnish her image in expectation of a 2016 presidential bid. But rather than address Clinton's attempt to call out media misinformation, Fox simply flipped the script, accusing Clinton of politicizing the tragedy.
On the May 30 edition of Fox News' Outnumbered, co-host Sandra Smith claimed that Clinton is "politicizing the issue in this book by pointing fingers at Republicans for trying to politicize it." Later that day, The Real Story host Gretchen Carlson wondered if Clinton's remarks on coverage of Benghazi in her book were merely a way to "turn the tables on the people who are asking the questions as politicizing it." Fox regular Sergeant Jessie Jane Duff followed suit on June 2, accusing Clinton of "turning this into a political bandwagon," and trying to "make it look like anybody who wants answers is a politician":
In light of the Obama administration's mistake in releasing to the press the name of the CIA station chief in Afghanistan, right-wing media have rushed to create a false equivalence to the Bush administration's deliberate exposure of then-covert CIA agent Valerie Plame.
Fox News exploited the Obama administration's accidental exposure of a CIA operative's identity, using it as an opportunity to minimize the Bush administration's culpability in deliberately exposing former CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity as political retribution in 2003.
On May 26, the Washington Post reported that the White House press office had mistakenly revealed the name of the CIA Chief of Station in Afghanistan when it distributed a list of officials scheduled to participate in a military briefing with Obama at the Bagram Air Base during the president's surprise Memorial Day visit to Afghanistan. The list had been provided to the administration communications staff by military officials.
Fox News used the oversight as an opportunity to absolve the Bush administration and former Bush advisor Lewis "Scooter" Libby for deliberately exposing the identity of then-covert CIA operative Valerie Plame in 2003. On May 27, Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade referenced Libby, noting that this time, "Scooter Libby cannot be blamed or imprisoned" for the oversight. Co-host Steve Doocy seized on the comment as an opportunity to draw a false equivalence between the two cases and downplay the severity of the Plame leak:
DOOCY: Okay, so you mentioned Scooter Libby, he was all part of that Valerie Plame thing. Valerie Plame has tweeted out. She writes simply: "Astonishing, White House mistakenly identifies CIA Chief in Afghanistan." Keep in mind, you know, people are talking about, well remember when it happened during the Bush years with Valerie Plame. Valerie -- President Barack Obama at the time wanted to know, called an investigation were any laws broken and stuff like that. Keep in mind that, big difference. Valerie Plame had a desk job in suburban Washington, D.C., at the CIA. This guy is actually over there. So for them to put out a list -- and I've got the memo on my iPhone right now. There's his name plain as day with Chief of Staff right after it. Doesn't anybody at the White House know what they're doing right now? It looks like a -- either they're not paying attention to details or they simply don't care.
Later on America's Newsroom, Fox contributor and former Bush administration official John Bolton made the specious claim that Plame's identity was "made public by Rich Armitage, Secretary Colin Powell's deputy," and argued that the disclosure "resulted in some very unfair treatment of a lot of other people in the Bush administration like Scooter Libby." Bolton argued that the Plame disclosure was "just a malicious piece of gossip," while the Obama administration's disclosure was "utter incompetence."
These cases are not comparable. While the Obama administration's release of the CIA Chief of Station's name is a serious oversight, reports of the incident are clear that the disclosure was accidental. As the Washington Post noted, the mistake was immediately recognized and the list was withdrawn.
In contrast, the exposure of Valerie Plame's identity was a calculated move that that demolished her career after her husband wrote a New York Times op-ed critical of the Bush administration's justifications for taking the nation to war in Iraq. During the leak investigation, former Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper identified former White House senior adviser -- current Fox contributor -- Karl Rove as the original source revealing Plame's identity and pointed to Scooter Libby as the corroborating source. Libby, who then served as chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, was found guilty of perjury in the leak investigation, but his sentence was later commuted by Bush.
The Supreme Court will soon decide Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, a case that could let owners of for-profit, secular corporations ignore the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and provide health insurance that does not cover preventive benefits like contraception. Right-wing media continue to advance multiple myths to support the owners of Hobby Lobby, despite the fact that these arguments have been repeatedly debunked by legal experts, religious scholars, and medical professionals.
Fox News' Stuart Varney dishonestly hyped new data on the number of Americans receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) to accuse beneficiaries of committing fraud to avoid finding a job. But experts agree that fraud in the SSDI program is low and there is no evidence Americans are faking their disabilities.
A May 21 Drudge Report headline proclaimed a "Record 10,999,447 On Disability and linked to a CNSnews.com article announcing that the total number of disability beneficiaries in the U.S rose in April "setting a new all-time record":
On Fox's America's Newsroom, Fox Business host Stuart Varney claimed the "explosion" in disability beneficiaries showed "America is becoming increasingly a welfare state. " Varney accused SSDI beneficiaries of committing fraud by taking the "disability option" supposedly where able-bodied individuals who can't find a job use SSDI "almost as an insurance policy against no income or no job":
VARNEY: During the Obama years we've gone from eight million people, just about eight million people claiming Social Security disability payments all the way up to nearly 11 million. That is a huge explosion in disability payments. Now a lot of people are taking what's called the disability option. They can't find a job. So they take -- they treat disability almost as an insurance policy against no income or no job. So you have got this explosion in disability payments. And Martha, we can't afford it.
Two points, number one, if we go on like this the Social Security disability trust fund, totally runs out of money by the end of 2016. That is not that far away. Number two, there's been an expansion in who qualifies for disability payments. Mental disorder is now acceptable. Mood disorder, or back pain. Now, that kind of opens the door to fraud because you can't really prove a lot of that. And plus, once you get disability, you're on it for a very long time because the virtually very little inspection process to figure out who is off the disability, who has recovered. So pretty much payment for life. We can't afford this
Fox's "Fox Facts" on the Internal Revenue Service's (IRS) scrutiny of Tea Party groups applying for tax-exempt status get the facts exactly wrong.
Judicial Watch released a batch of IRS email correspondence under a Freedom Of Information Act request on May 14. The emails include a chain of correspondence between the Cincinnati IRS office and the Washington, D.C. based office dating back to February 2010, when a Cincinnati IRS employee first flagged a Tea Party group seeking tax-exempt status for further review. The full email chain shows that the Washington, D.C. office's involvement was all in response to the initial inquiry from Cincinnati.
Yet right-wing media latched onto a midsection of the email chain, from July 2010, to push the conspiracy theory that Washington directed inappropriate targeting of conservative groups.
The falsehood made its way onto the May 16 edition of Fox News'America's Newsroom in an on-screen graphic presented as "Fox Facts." The on-screen "Fox Facts" falsely claimed that the emails newly revealed by Judicial Watch prove that the targeting of conservative groups stemmed from Washington, D.C. rather than Cincinnati:
A look at how right-wing media ran with Fox contributor Karl Rove's speculation that Hillary Clinton suffered brain damage from a fall in 2012, laying the groundwork to establish the baseless smear as an issue for the 2016 presidential race.
The Fox contributor appeared on Fox News on May 13 to explain the remarks, reportedly made at a May 8 conference. His claims resurrected an event that right-wing media had previously exploited in order to smear Clinton and push a baseless claim that the administration was attempting to cover-up the truth behind the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya. The then-secretary of state's testimony on the attacks before a House committee was delayed after her fall.
Rove attempted to clarify his remarks in a discussion with co-host Bill Hemmer, stating, "I didn't say she had brain damage."
HEMMER: How did this comment come up suggesting that Hillary Clinton may suffer from brain damage? Where'd that come from, Karl?
ROVE: No, no, no, no. Wait a minute. No, no. I didn't say she had brain damage. She had a serious health episode.
Rove tossed around wild speculation about Hillary's health status, claiming, "We don't know what the doctors said about what does she have to be concerned about. Don't know about -- I mean she's hidden a lot of this." In an interview with the Washington Post published after his Fox appearance, Rove is quoted as saying, "Of course she doesn't have brain damage." But he appeared to echo his speculation about her health to the Post as well:
"Of course she doesn't have brain damage," he said in an interview with The Washington Post.
But Rove said that it is apparent that Clinton suffered "a serious health episode." He added that if she runs for president in 2016, "she is going to have to be forthcoming" about the details of where, how and when it happened.
Contrary to Rove's claims on Fox, we do know happened to Clinton in 2012. She spent four days in the hospital after a blood clot was discovered in her brain several days after her fall. According to experts and the State Department, glasses worn by Clinton during her January 2013 testimony on the attacks in Benghazi were a corrective instrument meant to treat "double vision" as a result of her fall -- not traumatic brain injury.
Fox's Dana Perino debunked the right-wing media's attempt to manufacture a scandal around former Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner's new memoir by claiming that the book reveals that the Obama administration had asked him to lie to the American public.
On May 12 Geithner debuted his new memoir, Stress Test: Reflections on Financial Crises, detailing his time as president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and as Treasury Secretary under the Obama administration during the 2008-2009 financial crisis.
The book's excerpts promptly became fodder for right-wing media outlets, which latched onto two specific anecdotes to declare that the White House had directed Geithner to lie during appearances on the Sunday political talk shows.
At issue is Geithner's description of a prep session for the Sunday political shows in 2011 in which then-communications director Dan Pfeiffer asked him to state that Social Security didn't contribute to the deficit. Geithner wrote how he had objected to the phrasing, because "[i]t wasn't a main driver of our future deficits, but it did contribute."
Because of these anecdotes, Geithner's book represents a "new bombshell," according to Fox News, one that may show "the White House playing politics with the American people, perhaps." America's Newsroom anchor Martha MacCallum claimed:
MacCALLUM: Former Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner has a book. In it -- the excerpts have been released today -- he says that the White House asked him to go a Sunday show and say something that was not completely true, because it worked better for them politically. That is what is being suggested here.
But later the same day, on The Five, co-host Dana Perino, who previously served as press secretary under President George W. Bush, responded to allegations from her co-hosts that the White House had asked Geithner to lie. Perino explained that the way Geithner was asked to to discuss Social Security made sense "from a communications standpoint":
PERINO: I can actually understand the Geithner thing. It's like saying, "Hey, can you not try to say this point about Social Security?" I don't think that is asking Geithner to specifically lie. I can understand from a communications standpoint you're asking the principle and the policy person, "How far can you go to say X,Y, or Z?"
Fox News also quoted from "a source close to Geithner" who pointed out that he "does not believe he was encouraged to go out and mislead the public on the Sunday shows":
After the anecdote began to generate attention on Monday, a source close to Geithner clarified to Fox News that the former secretary "does not believe he was encouraged to go out and mislead the public on the Sunday shows."
The source said all the former secretary was trying to get across was that Pfeiffer wanted him to "send a signal" to liberals about the president's commitment to not allowing major cuts to Social Security.
From the May 8 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom:
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Fox News has pushed reset on many of its favorite Benghazi myths that have already been put to rest in the wake of the recently released Rhodes email and the House GOP's announcement of the formation of a Select Committee to investigate the attacks.
From the May 7 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom:
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