Fox News has continued to accuse President Obama of covering up the U.S. consulate attack in Benghazi, now claiming emails that allegedly linked the attack to a terrorist group challenge the administration's story. But the information being used by Fox appears to be unreliable, proving the point that information released in the middle of an attack needs to be corroborated.
CBS News and other outlets released State Department emails sent during the Benghazi attack, which reported that militia group Ansar al-Sharia had allegedly claimed responsibility. Fox seized on the emails to claim that the administration knew about the group's participation in the raid and therefore was hiding the truth by discussing the influencethat an anti-Islam video had on the raid. To back up the attack, Fox News contributor Liz Cheney appeared on the October 24 edition of America's Newsroom and claimed that "it is unusual for Al Qaeda-related groups to claim responsibility for attacks that they are not involved in":
Secretary of State Hilary Clinton responded to the story in an October 24 press conference, explaining that "[p]osting something on Facebook in and of itself is not evidence." Fox responded by accusing Clinton of "dismissing the significance" of the emails in an on-screen graphic.
But Clinton is right: Terrorist organizations often claim responsibility for attacks they did not commit. In fact, the information linking the attack to the Libyan group Ansar al-Sharia is reportedly wrong.
Conservative media outlets pushed at least eleven misleading attacks on President Obama's energy policies that have become talking points used by Mitt Romney's campaign. The conservative media bubble has largely prevented voters from hearing the facts about clean energy programs, fossil fuel production and environmental regulation under the Obama administration.
From the October 16 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom:
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It took less than ten minutes after the Bureau of Labor Statistics released new jobs numbers this morning for Fox to start promoting conspiracy theories about the reported drop in unemployment.
Commenting on the jobs report as the numbers first came in this morning, Fox Business host Charles Payne speculated that "some people will be very cynical that a government number will come out this great on the eve of the election." Indeed, "some people" at Fox -- including Payne himself -- have subsequently spent much of the day trying to cast doubt on the numbers, with several Fox personalities and guests openly speculating that the BLS may have cooked the books to bolster Obama's chance at reelection.
In fact, much of Fox's coverage today has focused on the "questions" surrounding the supposedly "fishy" and "convenient" jobs report that the New York Times described as "unexpected good news" for President Obama.
Veteran economics journalists have dismissed these conspiracies as "implausible" and "unfounded."
Fox News is distorting President Obama's economic agenda by pushing the straw-man argument that taxing the entirety of millionaires' incomes would fund the government for less than three months. In fact, Obama has proposed no such thing, and this Republican talking point obscures the billions in revenue that would be generated from letting the Bush tax cuts expire for wealthy households.
Fox News is again highlighting a misleading chart to distort the debate over welfare reform and to amplify Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's inaccurate message that President Obama is "dismantling" welfare reform. In fact, Obama simply gave states the flexibility they asked for in overseeing the welfare program.
Hemmer stated: "If you take a look at the chart, the number has been rising steadily since 2009."
But the chart's scale is deceptively skewed. The chart's y-axis is 94,000,000, not 0 -- as graphs are conventionally delineated. Here's what a more realistic chart would look like when drawn to scale:
Since Fox's chart provides no actual numbers, the increase can only be roughly approximated, but an increase of 96 million to 108 million is an increase of less than 12 percent.
From the August 7 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom:
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Right-wing media have distorted efforts by President Obama's re-election campaign to restore early voting for all Ohio voters, claiming the campaign is suing to restrict voting for members of the military. In fact, the Obama campaign's lawsuit seeks to restore early voting for all Ohioans, including members of the military and their families.
On Wednesday, the National Hispanic Media Coalition and UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center released a study showing that guests and topics discussed during "The Rush Limbaugh Show," "The Sean Hannity Show," "The Glenn Beck Program," The Savage Nation" and "The John and Ken Show" overwhelmingly marginalized minority groups.
As the study explains:
The findings reveal that the hosts promoted an insular discourse that focused on, for example, anti-immigration, anti-Islam, and pro-Tea Party positions and that this discourse found repetition and amplification through social media.
These viewpoints have far reaching consequences. NHMC President and CEO Alex Nogales told Fox News Latino that the social network surrounding conservative talk radio and Fox News has spread to social media websites resulting in "an echo-chamber of voices, both online and off, that promotes hatred against ethnic, racial and religious groups and the LGBT community on social media web sites."
Using hateful rhetoric, these hosts have cast immigrants as disease ridden, equated pro-immigrant organizations with neo-Nazis, called Islam an "evil religion," claimed the Obama administration is promoting "race riots" and made fun of the ethnicity of Asian-American politicians.
From the August 2 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom:
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Fox News is using a new report about the Obama administration's deportation of immigrants (legal and undocumented) to reinforce their narrative that President Obama is not committed to enforcing illegal immigration. In fact, the Congressional Research Service report proves the opposite: that the Obama administration has prioritized the removal of undocumented immigrants who are a danger to society, increasing the number of deportations by nearly 90 percent.
According to the study, which analyzed records from October 2008 -- before Obama was in office -- to July 2011, 46,734 undocumented immigrants were released within that three-year span. Of those, 7,283 or 15.9 percent, recommitted crimes within three years of their initial arrest and release. To put it in context, Americans' recidivism rate is about 40 percent.
But Fox News anchor Rick Folbaum described those findings as "revealing that illegal immigrants are more likely to return to jail after being arrested than citizens or even legal residents" -- which is the exact opposite of what the report concluded. According to the report, legal immigrants' recidivism rate was 16.5 percent. When taken together, the report found that 17 percent of legal and undocumented immigrants recommitted crimes within three years of their release.
Still, host Bill Hemmer stated that the report cast "fresh doubt on the president's immigration policy." Host Lou Dobbs promoted the findings, suggesting the Obama administration has an "anti-enforcement agenda."
Nothing is further from the truth. The Obama administration has prioritized the removal of dangerous undocumented immigrants. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) director John Morton made this clear:
Over the past three and a half years, ICE has established clear priorities that focus our enforcement resources on aliens that pose a threat to public safety or national security, repeatedly violate our immigration laws or recently crossed our borders.
On America's Newsroom, Fox News promoted a Republican congressman's claim that a halt to government regulations will lower the unemployment rate, and then misled viewers over regulations' negligent effect on business and unemployment. In the last six years, regulations were responsible for less than 1 percent of all job loss, and small business owners have cited demand, not regulation, as their biggest obstacle to job creation.
Fox News contributor and National Review editor Rich Lowry claimed that because of the current economic situation, "it makes even less sense to pile new regulations on top of business to make the job of hiring people even more difficult than it is." Fox News contributor Kirsten Powers added that "regulation of small businesses is a problem" and agreed that government regulations "have been too much." Host Bill Hemmer then asked: "Why doesn't the White House do something about [regulation]? Unemployment's above 8 percent."
In reality, government regulations have a negligible impact on the unemployment rate. In 2011, government regulation was the impetus behind only 0.4 percent of all jobs lost, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). For 2012 thus far, regulation is responsible for merely 0.28 percent of total new unemployment. Business demand for goods and services is responsible the vast majority of layoffs, as BLS shows:
From 2007-2009, during the economic recession, the BLS found that government regulation accounted for around 4,300 layoffs -- 0.3 percent of all those who lost their jobs. The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) noted that these numbers are especially significant when compared with the number of jobs lost during the recession due to regulatory failures:
The 4,300 figure itself deserves further context. It does not take into account any offsetting job creation that the regulations may have spurred, such as jobs created from the increased demand for the products from companies in compliance with the regulations. More broadly, the 4,300 figure pales in comparison to any accounting of the jobs lost in this period due to the regulatory failures that contributed to the economy's financial crisis.
That extended mass layoffs resulting from government regulations/intervention are a small sliver of all such layoffs is not an anomaly of tough economic times (when more layoffs naturally reflect the lack of demand). In 2007, a year of modest job growth, just 0.3% of extended mass layoffs were attributed to government regulation/intervention.
Small business owners agree. In a 2011 survey of about 1,200 small business owners, more than 80 percent cited economic factors and lack of demand as the primary obstacles facing their business.
From the July 11 edition of Fox News Radio's Kilmeade & Friends:
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From the July 10 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom:
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Yesterday, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia provided fresh evidence that he and Fox News are employing the same set of dubious right-wing talking points.
In his dissent arguing in favor of Arizona's anti-immigration statute, Scalia attacked the Obama administration's decision to allow certain young immigrants to remain in the country. Scalia accused the Obama administration of not wanting to "enforce the immigration laws as written" and leaving "the States borders unprotected against immigrants" who are here without authorization. Scalia also claimed that Arizonans "feel themselves under siege" by undocumented immigrants who place Arizonans "life in jeopardy."
Scalia's language mirrors the false claims used by Fox News to attack the Obama administration's immigration record. For instance, Fox Business host Lou Dobbs claimed that "this administration has chosen unilaterally not to enforce" immigration laws. Fox News regular guest Jay Sekulow said that Arizona is "under siege," and Fox News legal analyst Peter Johnson Jr. asserted that there was a "crime wave" in Arizona.
The Scalia-Fox attacks are not borne out by the facts. The Obama administration is enforcing immigration law: Deportations are up under President Obama, and deportation of criminal immigrants is 30 percent higher. Furthermore, far from being "under siege," Arizona crime rates have been dropping.
Nevertheless, Fox News responded to the Supreme Court decision by hyping Scalia's arguments. Johnson declared that "everybody's gotta read Scalia's dissent" on the Arizona case.