Over the past week, Fox News figures have repeatedly asserted that emails from the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia that critics have dubiously claimed undermine the scientific consensus on climate change were "leaked" -- citing no evidence for their claim -- or have described those emails as having been "revealed," "uncovered," or "discovered." In fact, CRU has stated that the emails were stolen from CRU's servers by one or more hackers.
On America's Newsroom, Fox News co-host Patti Ann Browne followed up a report on stolen emails from the University of East Anglia's Climate Research Unit (CRU) -- which she suggested indicated that climate scientists may have "fudged statistics on global warming and colluded to keep opposing views off the table" -- by saying, "Well, amidst all this talk of global warming, a winter weather warning in none other than Texas. Houston expected to break a record today with the earliest snowfall -- yes, snowfall -- ever recorded in that city's history." But climate scientists reject the notion that short-term changes in weather, let alone individual storms, bear any relevance to the global warming debate, and several major climate data centers have said that thus far, 2009 is one of the warmest years on record.
During the December 3 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom, Bill Hemmer falsely claimed that "recently leaked emails reveal that scientists use, quote, 'tricks' to hide evidence of a decline in global temperatures over the past, say, few decades." In fact, the email in question discussing hiding the decline refers to efforts to account for unreliable tree ring data, but instrumental temperature data do not show a "decline in global temperatures," as Hemmer claimed; moreover, the email Hemmer cited was written 10 years ago, immediately after the warmest year on record.
Fox News' America's Newsroom aired a segment hyping a story on an elementary school in Boston that had prohibited Christmas-themed gifts from being sold in the school's holiday gift shop, which co-host Bill Hemmer suggested is evidence of "the War on Christmas ... raging again." However, the school's ban reportedly includes all items that can be associated with a specific religion and is not limited to Christmas.
Right-wing media have run with the Politico's Jonathan Allen misleading calculation that the House's recently announced health care reform legislation costs "about $2.24 million per word." In fact, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated that the America's Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009 "would result in a net reduction in federal budget deficits of $104 billion"; therefore, using Allen's formula, the bill would actually save $260,000 per word.
Repeated Fox News segments reported that, in Bret Baier's words, "Republican lawmakers say the Council on American-Islamic Relations, CAIR, is trying to infiltrate Capitol Hill by placing interns in key positions," an allegation stemming from a right-wing book whose author has a history of making outrageous and anti-Islamic assertions and is published by WorldNetDaily, which has its own history of making outrageous allegations and inflammatory remarks. Moreover, the document that Republican Reps. Sue Myrick (NC), John Shadegg (AZ), Paul Broun (GA), and Trent Franks (AZ) cited as evidence of CAIR's alleged activities is stolen and does not support their claims.
Fox News has responded to White House criticisms of its network by claiming that while its "editorial" programs are filled with "vibrant opinion," its news hours are straight and objective. However, Fox News' purportedly straight news programs echo its "editorial" programs: Media Matters for America has compiled a non-exhaustive list -- from this year alone -- documenting how Fox's news programming features smears, falsehoods, doctored and deceptive editing, and GOP talking points.
In separate interviews, Fox News hosts Bill Hemmer and Greta Van Susteren allowed Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) to attack the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) on the grounds that in 1999 and 2000, one of its leaders embezzled from the group. However, at no point did either Hemmer or Van Susteren note that in 2008, the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) stated that its treasurer had embezzled more than $600,000 from the organization over the course of several years.
Fox News' Bill Hemmer criticized the Department of Homeland Security for awarding a since-rescinded fire prevention grant to ACORN, ignoring that the Bush administration awarded similar grants to ACORN in 2007. Moreover, other Fox personalities and The Washington Times claimed that Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) "made this public," even though the grant was reported on long before Vitter mentioned them.
Fox News and its websites Fox Nation and FoxNews.com repeatedly advanced the falsehood that Department of Education official Kevin Jennings, in the words of Fox News host Bill Hemmer, knew of a "statutory rape" and "never reported it." While pushing this attack on Jennings, Fox News ignored evidence that the student who told Jennings about his relationship with an older man was of legal age, and Media Matters for America has since confirmed that the student was of legal age and that Fox News' smears of Jennings were scurrilous and false.
Fox News' Bill Hemmer continued his network's attacks on Department of Education official Kevin Jennings by claiming that Jennings knew of a "statutory rape" case involving a student but "never reported it." However, Hemmer ignored that Jennings' attorney wrote in a 2004 letter that the student was 16 years old, which Jennings' book appears to support, and that 16 is -- and was at the time -- the legal age of consent in Massachusetts.
Taking cues from conservative blogs and the Drudge Report, Fox News and its online properties flogged a YouTube video that purports to show "[s]chool kids taught to praise Obama." Indeed, in discussing the significance of the story, Fox News host Megyn Kelly said that the video, which the school's superintendent has said was unauthorized, "is getting attention on the Drudge Report website this morning."
From the September 24 edition of America's Newsroom:
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After the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) instructed Humana and other Medicare Advantage (MA) organizations to cease sending health care reform mailings to Medicare beneficiaries, numerous conservative media figures -- including several Fox News hosts -- have advanced the talking point that the Obama administration is "threatening" or "suppress[ing] free speech" rights of reform opponents, in a manner Glenn Beck said "sounds like Joe McCarthy," often failing to note CMS' rationale. In fact, CMS expressed concern that the mailings -- which directed beneficiaries to contact Congress in opposition to Medicare Advantage payment cuts -- is "misleading and confusing to beneficiaries, represents information to beneficiaries as official communications about the Medicare Advantage program, and is potentially contrary to federal regulations and guidance."
In recent days, media figures repeatedly referred to the Senate Democrats' possible use of reconciliation to pass health care reform with a simple majority as the "nuclear option," with Fox News going so far as to run graphics defining "nuclear option" as "[f]orcing government-run insurance through the Senate with just 51 votes." In fact, the term "nuclear option" was coined by then-Republican Sen. Trent Lott in 2005 to refer to a possible Republican attempt to change Senate filibuster rules, while the budget process, known as reconciliation, is already part of Senate procedure, and Republicans have used it repeatedly in the past.