Conservative media are claiming that unemployed Americans are "lazy" because they supposedly spend too much time "shopping" and not enough time working or looking for work. But the data they cite includes the activities of stay-at-home parents, students, people with disabilities, and retirees who are "not employed."
On September 8, fringe conservative website CNS News published an article claiming "an unemployed American is more likely to be shopping ... than to be looking for a new job. " The article ostensibly cited data from the American Time Use Survey (ATUS), an annual survey conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). CNS claimed that "only 18.9 percent of Americans who were unemployed" engaged in job searches or job interviews on "an average day." Meanwhile, according to CNS, 22.5 percent of the "unemployed" engaged in shopping "for items other than groceries" on "an average day."
Unfortunately, CNS did not link to its internal data or provide methodology for its reporting, leaving readers to take the website's claims at face value.
Digging into the technical notes of the ATUS reveals that the BLS does not categorize individuals as "unemployed," but rather as "not employed." This distinction is important, as it includes individuals who fit the classification of being unemployed -- not working but actively looking for work -- as well as individuals who are "not in the labor force" for other reasons, including retirement, educational pursuit, and disability. So-called "discouraged workers," the small percentage of the population who involuntarily leave the labor force due to a lack of opportunity, would also count as "not employed" by ATUS classification.
CNS' insinuation that the so-called "unemployed" spend too much time engaged in non-work activities like "shopping" is based on a fatally skewed statistical error. But that fact has not stopped right-wing media outlets from using CNS' assumptions to fuel their campaign against the unemployed.
Fox News offered Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) a platform to attack former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton over the terrorist group known as the Islamic State, raising questions about the network's willingness to be manipulated using unverified quotes in order to harm a potential presidential candidate.
During the September 3 edition of Hannity, Paul joined host Sean Hannity to discuss the threat of the Islamic State to the U.S. After Hannity asked him if IS "has declared war on us," Paul blamed Clinton for the Islamic State's rise, asserting that "in the past, you know, Hillary Clinton has said ISIS is not a threat to the United States."
Fox's Bill Hemmer later hosted Paul on the September 5 edition of America's Newsroom, where Paul again claimed Clinton has "been out there saying that ISIS is not a threat, and so not a threat to America. Those I think were her exact words." After Hemmer asked Paul whether Clinton actually said the terror group was not a threat, Paul was unable to pin down where the alleged quote was from, but responded that it was his "belief" that "a couple of months ago there was a quote saying ISIS was not a threat to America." Hemmer subsequently failed to follow up on Paul's lack of specifics.
Hemmer's question was a critical one for any journalist to ask, but his failure to demand the specific quote and Hannity's total acceptance of Paul's claim is troubling. By not pushing for proof of Paul's claim, Fox News is letting itself be used as a conduit for misinformation from one potential presidential candidate to another.
Fox News misleadingly credited Governor Rick Perry's (R-TX) announcement that National Guard troops would be deployed to the border for reducing the number of immigrants crossing the border -- but experts find that migration regularly decreases in summer months due to dangerous summer weather.
From the July 10 edition of Fox News' Outnumbered:
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Fox News host Bill Hemmer reported that "busloads of illegals" are inundating the small town of Murrieta, California, to stoke fears that immigrants are being sent to towns around the country indiscriminately. But U.S. Customs and Border Protection explained that the immigrants are being transported to other border patrol facilities to alleviate overcrowding and facilitate speedy processing of immigrants.
In June, the Los Angeles Times reported on unsanitary, overcrowded conditions at detainment centers in Texas and Arizona following an influx of unaccompanied minors into the country, necessitating transfers to other facilities.
On July 1, anti-immigrant protesters in Murrieta forced buses transporting immigrants from overcrowded facilities in Texas to reroute to other facilities.
During the July 7 edition of Fox's America's Newsroom, Murrieta Mayor Alan Long discussed the immigration protests in his town with Hemmer. During the discussion, Hemmer reported ominously that "busloads of illegals roll into the town of Murrieta" and asked Long, "How did we reach this point, where your small little bedroom community is inundated?" Long claimed to have no idea why border patrol would send immigrants to his "bedroom community of 106,000," saying that "all of a sudden, the world showed up at our doorstep." He also warned that "you can't just send them all over the country."
From the June 27 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom:
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Karl Rove argued that the Obama administration's effort to renegotiate the Status of Forces Agreement with Iraq in 2011 failed because Obama placed unprecedented conditions on Iraq -- conditions that the Bush administration actually included in its 2008 agreement with Iraq.
Fox contributor Karl Rove went on the June 20 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom and accused the Obama administration of adding unprecedented demands into the renegotiation of the 2011 Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) with Iraq. According to Rove, the U.S. and Iraq failed to agree because the Obama administration insisted on parliamentary approval of the agreement -- a condition that "was impossible for Iraqis to meet" and divergent from "what we've done in any other country around the world where we have a Status of Forces Agreement" (emphasis added):
BILL HEMMER (co-host): Are you of the mind that the reason why we did not leave a force of 10,000 behind in Iraq -- you know, the president said yesterday 'the Iraqis didn't let us, Maliki would not give us the agreement, so we had no decision but to pull out.' Are you of the mind that this administration did not want that agreement in order to have the reason and the rationale to pull American forces out of Iraq and say to the American people 'campaign promise fulfilled, the Iraq war is winding down and now ended.' What do you think?
ROVE: Well it's hard always to define intent, but I do think the administration, they said they wanted it, they assigned Joe Biden to negotiate it, and then at the last minute they put in a condition that was impossible for the Iraqis to meet -- that is to say, they wanted parliamentary approval of the SOFA. That's not what we've done in any other country around the world where we have Status of Forces Agreement. We've signed it with the leader of the country. And Maliki had the authority to do it, but it was impossible for him to go to his parliament at that time because he was trying to form a government and this would have been embroiled in domestic politics. So the administration basically made it impossible to do the deal.
Fox News personalities baselessly accused the Obama administration of engaging in a cover-up following reports that the IRS lost emails connected to the alleged targeting of organizations seeking tax-exempt status, ignoring the fact that government agencies regularly lose emails due to antiquated computer systems and policies.
Fox News incorrectly claimed that children crossing the U.S. border to flee violence in Central America are getting a "free ride" into the United States and are being allowed to stay despite evidence showing that these children are immediately put into deportation proceedings and are not eligible for any of the Obama administration's deportation relief programs.
This year, precipitated by growing violence in Central America, thousands of migrant children have entered the U.S. and have been held in various locations in border states, including temporary housing in Arizona. Estimates have varied on the number that is expected to cross this year, with The New York Times reporting that some federal officials predict at least 60,000 unaccompanied minors will attempt to cross into the U.S. by the end of this fiscal year.
Fox News has capitalized on the situation to attack the Obama administration and incorrectly claim his administration's immigration policies are to blame for the rise, while falsely claiming these children would receive a free pass into the U.S.
On the June 17 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom, co-host Bill Hemmer used the border crossings by unaccompanied migrant children to claim that the president was doing nothing about the situation. Fox contributor David Webb agreed, blaming the Obama administration for exacerbating "a human crisis" by "actively promoting" their "open borders approach":
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.
From the June 6 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom:
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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 repeatedly spun the words of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to suggest she had finally acknowledged the importance of the select committee on Benghazi, when in fact Pelosi had stressed her objections to the committee and called it an unnecessary "partisan exercise."
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:
From the May 8 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom:
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