Fox News figures have tried to use an investigative panel's recent report on the Benghazi attack to congratulate their network on its coverage of the attack. But the report actually debunks several incorrect and misleading narratives Fox pushed about Benghazi.
On December 18, the independent Accountability Review Board, which was set up by the State Department to investigate the Benghazi attack, released their findings in a report that "sharply criticized the State Department" for oversights that led to insufficient security at the U.S. compound in Benghazi, as The New York Times reported.
During the December 19 broadcast of On The Record, host Greta Van Susteren asked Fox News contributor Sarah Palin for her thoughts on the report, and Palin answered, in part, "Kudos to Fox News for being the news outlet that stayed on top of this story. Americans deserve these answers." Van Susteren responded that she felt "some level of pride" for Fox's Benghazi coverage, because of "all the sort of heat we took from people, saying that it wasn't a story." She added, "[T]here's been a lot of resistance to my national security colleagues getting this information. So, I do take some pride with them."
Similarly, Fox contributor Kirsten Powers suggested on Special Report that the Benghazi report wasn't even necessary because of the program's coverage of the attack, saying, "Well, it's interesting that that report -- you could have known all that if you'd just watched this show. So, it's sort of funny that they had to do an investigation to figure all of that out."
In fact, the review board's report actually discredits Fox's coverage of the attack.
The Los Angeles Times is giving credence to claims that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has feigned injury as an attempt to avoid testifying on Benghazi, posing the question to its readers in an online poll: "Did she fake it?"
Following reports that Clinton suffered a concussion after fainting, right-wing media figures, led by Fox News contributor John Bolton, speculated that she was faking in order to escape giving testimony on the September 11 attack on a diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya. Fox News hosts and contributors mocked Clinton as "suffering from acute Benghazi allergy" and downplayed her condition, with Bill O'Reilly stating, "I think she can make a phone call."
In a December 19 article, reporter Paul Richter gave credence to Bolton's claims. The article did cite a State Department spokeswoman, who slammed the speculation and called these rumors "completely untrue" and coming from "people who don't know what they're talking about." But the Times leaves the matter as a matter of legitimate debate between the conspiracy-minded critics and the State Department.
Emphasizing the point that the Times considers the concussion attack legitimate, posted above the article's text the paper posted a "Your take" online poll, asking readers "Did she fake it?"
Nearly all of Fox News' evening news shows ridiculed Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for having to postpone her testimony on the Benghazi attack because of a concussion she suffered after fainting due to dehydration. Their mockery was an attempt to downplay the concussion and suggest Clinton was faking injury to avoid giving testimony, a notion the State Department has called "wild speculation based on no information."
The Washington Post reported on December 15 that Clinton sustained a concussion after she fainted due to dehydration while at home a week prior. After the incident, the State Department explained that Clinton would have to postpone her testimony about the attack on Benghazi due to the concussion.
Following the State Department's announcement, Fox News contributor John Bolton, appearing on On The Record, suggested Clinton was faking "diplomatic illness" to avoid testifying about Benghazi. The State Department's Victoria Nuland lashed out at Bolton for his remarks, labeling them "wild speculation based on no information."
Now Fox News' evening shows have decided to join Bolton in accusing Clinton of faking her condition and make it seem she is trying to avoid giving her testimony. Co-host of Fox News' The Five, Kimberly Guilfoyle, accused Clinton of running "a duck and cover" after suffering the concussion. Co-host Greg Gutfeld went on to ask, "How can she get a concussion when she has been ducking everything [related to Benghazi]?"
Fox News co-host Greg Gutfeld attributed the media failing to adopt Fox's attacks on President Obama regarding the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi to networks not wanting to report stories Fox covered. However much of Fox's reporting was found to be false, overhyped, and criticized even by personalities on their network.
On The December 19 edition of Fox News' The Five, co-host Eric Bolling claimed that a recently released independent review on the consulate attack in Benghazi showed that the media ignored the story which "had a lot more legs than they saw." Gutfeld responded "I think there is something called Fox News dismissal syndrome. If we cover something really, really well, other networks...dismiss it":
From the December 19 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
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From the December 19 edition of Fox News' The Five:
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For the second straight year, The O'Reilly Factor has devoted more than three times as much airtime to the manufactured "War on Christmas" than to actual military conflicts.
Fox News figures accused Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of faking an illness when she suffered a concussion after fainting due to dehydration. The State Department has criticized Fox News contributor John Bolton for engaging in "wild speculation based on no information."
A Fox News contributor who network CEO Roger Ailes reportedly uses to communicate his views on-air suggested that he might support new gun laws in the wake of the Newtown massacre.
Peter Johnson, Jr., a Fox News legal analyst, said that "the government has the right to register and regulate... firearms" and suggested that we should consider restricting ownership of assault weapons in light of recent events during a monologue on the December 18 edition of Fox & Friends.
JOHNSON: People have the right under the Second Amendment to own firearms. The government has the right to register and regulate those firearms. At the same time we need to be thinking about where should we be allocating law enforcement resources. How can we better register?
Let's look at AK-47s and AR-15s. The numbers show that it's a small portion of the deaths and violence in America. But it's a high portion, it's a high proportion of these mass violence episodes. Let's look at everything in a dispassionate, smart, objective way that protects Americans and protects the Constitution both.
During the same segment, Johnson suggested that Americans should also examine the "entertainment industry" because of their support for "videos." The Washington Post has noted that data show no correlation between video game spending per capita and gun-related homicides.
Johnson's role at Fox is reportedly much greater than a typical contributor. In addition to his regular appearances on Fox & Friends, Johnson serves as Ailes' personal attorney, confers regularly with the Fox chief and is reportedly the outlet Ailes uses to channel his views on the network.
From the December 14 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe:
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Fox News hyped results from poll questions premised on falsehoods to reinforce its phony narrative about the attack on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, that left four Americans dead. This fits with Fox News' history of pointing to public opinion polls to suggest that false talking points it has promoted are fact.
Fox News reported these poll results as it was announced that U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice was withdrawing as a candidate for secretary of state. Fox News led a relentless smear campaign against Rice alleging that her statements about Benghazi on Sunday morning news shows were somehow a scandal, despite copious evidence to the contrary.
While discussing the Benghazi attack, international correspondent Catherine Herridge and Fox Business anchor Lou Dobbs each cited a Fox News poll question that asked, "On the night of the attack, do you think President Obama should have ordered U.S. troops to go to Benghazi and help the Americans at the consulate there?" Sixty-five percent said yes, but the question falsely suggests that the Obama administration didn't act to help Americans in Benghazi.
In reality, reinforcements from the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli arrived in Benghazi the night of the attack. Furthermore, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has said that a military response to the attack was not possible.
Herridge and Dobbs also cited a poll question that asked, "Do you think the Obama administration has covered-up what happened" in Benghazi? Though 48 percent agreed, the question is premised on a Fox News conspiracy theory -- the Obama administration has continually said that it was sharing information as it developed, and multiple investigations of the attack are under way.
Breitbart.com is in the midst of a hiring spree that promises to generate more pageviews and money for the publication while keeping its readers chasing Obama administration conspiracies for the next four years.
The publication is reportedly offering reporters from other right-wing outlets big salary increases and annual bonuses to sign four year contracts. It's no wonder that the website has money to spend; in at least one month this fall Breitbart.com passed its rivals to take the lead as the highest trafficked right-wing news site. Traffic drives ad sales, which, together with venture capital, has filled the publication's coffers.
What's significant is what Breitbart.com has done to build the traffic, and who they're planning on hiring with the resulting profits.
Breitbart.com was an important piece of the right-wing media bubble that kept conservatives blissfully unaware of major events during the 2012 election and focused on flawed efforts to "vet" President Obama. The publication fixated on efforts to reveal aspects of Obama's youth and college years, claiming that the media hadn't sufficiently put the president under the microscope in 2008 and set out to correct their failures.
Thus a major right-wing news site spent its resources during the last election running massive investigations into topics like the president's 20-year-old hug of a Harvard Law professor and the claims his literary agent made about his memoir in a 1991 pamphlet. Meanwhile, they worked overtime to try to discredit the vast weight of polling that suggested Obama was cruising to reelection. And shackled to their base, Mitt Romney and the rest of the GOP's officeholders were taken along for the ride, latching on to the sorts of claims that made sense inside the right-wing bubble and nowhere else.
Woefully misleading their audience apparently brought in enough money for Breitbart.com to make fat offers to staffers at other right-wing media publications. And they're using it to bring in more "talent" that will keep the Breitbart.com gravy train running and their audience in the dark.
Matthew Boyle was the first to "enlist in Andrew Breitbart's army" in order to "go to war" against "leftwing outlets" like "The New York Times, Politico, [and] NBC News" after several years working at The Daily Caller. His December 2 announcement came less than 14 days after his previous employer had all but retracted one of his stories.
Fox News suggested that former Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE) may have trouble getting Senate confirmation from fellow Republicans following reports that he is being considered for the position of President Obama's Secretary of Defense. Fox's objection to Hagel follows previous efforts by the network to obstruct Obama's possible Cabinet nominations.
In late November, Foreign Policy reported that Hagel was being vetted for "a possible top national security post in the Obama Administration," including the position of Secretary of Defense that Secretary Leon Panetta will vacate. Senators from across the political spectrum, including Carl Levin (D-MI), Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and Jim Inhofe (R-OK) praised Hagel's potential nomination, and Jeff Sessions (R-AL) who specifically praised Hagel's "seriousness and experience."
Despite this praise, Fox & Friends co-host Gretchen Carlson claimed Hagel might be opposed by Senate Republicans. Carlson said that Hagel's opposition to the 2007 troop surge in Iraq and his accompanying then-Senator Obama on a trip to Afghanistan and Iraq in 2008 means he is "not a typical Republican" and that "could present some obstacles" to his Senate confirmation.
Indeed, Hagel did voice concerns about the 2007 surge. However, he was not the only Republican to do so. Many Republican senators at the time, including Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME), Gordon Smith (R-OR), Norm Coleman (R-MN), George Voinovich (R-OH), John Sununu (R-NH) and John Warner (R-VA), all expressed concerns about the 2007 surge.
For the second day in a row, Fox News host Gretchen Carlson criticized the GOP for failing to effectively communicate its ideas, especially following its defeat in the 2012 presidential election. But while Carlson's comments were directed at the Republican National Committee, Fox itself has acted as the communications arm of the GOP for years, a practice that has opened the network to heavy criticism, especially following Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's recent loss.
On the December 6 edition of Fox & Friends, Carlson claimed that "Republicans actually have a legitimate message" on the issue of raising taxes and cutting entitlements, going so far as to ask if "we need a better mouthpiece for the Republicans to be able to communicate." On today's show, Carlson revisited her comments, saying that the RNC should do a better job of getting the message out because there "has been a lot of discussion about the communication of the Republican ideas and the effectiveness of that during the campaign."
Fox News' Steve Doocy cast completely unwarranted suspicion on the Bureau of Labor Statistics employment statistics, saying it was "curious" that the agency had issued a downward revision to the number of jobs the economy created in the months leading up to the November election.
On Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released its monthly jobs report showing the economy added 146,000 jobs in November. The report also revised the estimates for its September and October jobs reports, finding that the economy had added 50,000 fewer jobs in those months than previously thought.
After Fox reported on the numbers, Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy said: "It's interesting what [Fox Business senior Washington correspondent] Peter Barnes said from Washington, and that was that in the two months running up to the election, now there apparently have been some revisions for September and October: 50,000 fewer jobs were created than reported by the federal government. That's curious."
Doocy did not explain what was curious about the revision, but his assertion comes after Fox's repeated attempt to cast doubt on the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) jobs numbers in the lead-up to the election. In October and early November, Fox News repeatedly embraced jobs number conspiracies to suggest that BLS was fixing its numbers to be politically advantageous to President Obama.
In fact, there is nothing curious about the revisions to the jobs data. The Bureau of Labor Statistics regularly revises its initial numbers because they come from a statistically volatile small survey. The Bureau maintains a table showing the revisions to its over-the-month estimates for every month going back to 1979, which shows that the jobs numbers are regularly revised by tens of thousands and even hundreds of thousands of jobs between the initial estimate and later estimates.
New York Times economics reporter Catherine Rampell has explained that the jobs numbers included in the BLS monthly reports have a margin of error of 400,000 and have "wild swings" every month:
These numbers are always tremendously volatile, but the reasons are statistical, not political. The numbers come from a tiny survey with a margin of error of 400,000. Every month there are wild swings, and no one takes them at face value. The swings usually attract less attention, though, because the political stakes are usually lower.
The numbers, by the way, are especially imprecise (and prone to revision) when the economy is making a turn, or when regular seasonal patterns start to change.