In his efforts to pretend a proposed state law enforcement bill in California was "extreme" and unconstitutional, Fox News host Bill O'Reilly accidentally explained why it was legal.
California is currently contemplating the TRUST Act, a new bill that would clearly delineate the responsibility of state enforcement officials when they participate in the federal Secure Communities program, a joint effort that processes immigration status information taken at the local level through national databases.
Even though O'Reilly correctly noted Secure Communities is a cooperative program between state and federal officials, he still erroneously insisted the TRUST Act "subvert[s] federal law" in an interview with the former head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). From the September 25 edition of The O'Reilly Factor:
O'REILLY: Here is how extreme things are. A proposed new law in California would prevent -- prevent police from even cooperating with the federal government on illegal alien criminal cases. Democratic politicians in California obviously doing this to strengthen their base among immigrants from south of the border. Joining us now from Washington: Julie Myers Wood, former head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. So obviously California is subverting federal law or am I wrong Ms. Wood?
O'REILLY: Shouldn't the attorney general though go in and say to California you can't do this. You can't not cooperate with federal people, ICE, when you have a criminal situation and if -- and we'll sue you if you continue this policy. Shouldn't the attorney general do that?
O'REILLY: But what are the odds of [Attorney General Eric] Holder doing that, you know the game in D.C. You know the players. What are the odds of the attorney general as you rightly pointed out did sue Arizona, same -- same issue. Your countermanding federal law, you can't do that. What are the odds of him saying the same thing to Jerry Brown and the people in California?
O'REILLY: All right. We're going to call the attorney general's office and see when the federal lawsuit will be filed against the state of California for failing to cooperate with federal officials.
But O'Reilly is flatly incorrect that the TRUST Act interacts with federal law in the same manner that the anti-immigrant Arizona law SB 1070 did.
Fox News' Bill O'Reilly unleashed a slew of deceptive and historically inaccurate economic arguments to prop up the narrative that "taxes in America have reached critical mass" under President Obama, whom O'Reilly claimed has redistributed the nation's wealth.
On the September 25 edition of The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly ranted about the United State's current tax rates, complaining, "The federal government is getting more tax revenue than ever before and state and local taxes are at the highest level in the history of this country." O'Reilly argued that working Americans are being "punished" by today's tax rates that have "have reached critical mass," adding that President Obama has succeeded in redistributing the nation's wealth from the top to the bottom:
O'REILLY: President Obama and his acolytes do not want Americans to accumulate wealth. They want to take private wealth away from those who have it and give it to those who don't have it. And they have succeeded in doing that with an assist from the Bush administration, which ran up colossal debt after 9/11. Taxes in America have reached critical mass.
Later, when O'Reilly's guest Dr. Jeanne Zaino, a political science professor at Iona College, highlighted historic levels of income inequality and government efforts to mitigate the problem, O'Reilly yelled over her: "Your basic thesis of income inequality is socialism. Don't you get that? The government cannot impose income equality on a private marketplace. It can't."
O'Reilly misfired on several of his arguments. For starters, his focus on total raw tax revenue is deceptive. Total tax revenue rises as the size of the economy and the working population grows -- revenues are comparable only as they relate to the size of the economy, which corrects for this growth.
Under Obama, tax revenues as a share of the economy are historically low. During Obama's first term, the ratio of revenue to GDP averaged 15.4 percent, the lowest levels since 1950, according to data from the Tax Policy Center. For context, since 1950, federal revenue has averaged approximately 18 percent of GDP.
Fox News personalities have claimed that Muslims are refusing to speak out against the deadly terror attack on a Kenyan shopping mall, despite the fact that Muslim leaders in the United States and in Kenya have condemned the attack as "heinous" and an "outrageous act of violence" that is against the teachings of Islam.
From the September 23 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
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From the September 19 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
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From the September 19 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
Fox News accused the government of willfully endangering Americans by releasing undocumented immigrants who commit sex crimes instead of trying and deporting them. In fact, immigrants who commit crimes are arrested and tried in a criminal court before potentially going through deportation proceedings in immigration court.
On the September 17 edition of The O'Reilly Factor, host Bill O'Reilly brought on Fox's legal analysts Kimberly Guilfoyle and Lis Whiel to discuss a recent GAO report that found that 2,837 undocumented immigrants who were convicted of a sex offense were released under Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) supervision as of September 2012. O'Reilly called the release a "frightening situation" and asked why the government couldn't "get these people tried or deport them in six months." Guilfoyle blamed the government's "inefficiency" in administering justice and "releasing these predators back into the street." They all agreed immigrants should be subject to tougher standards for criminal conduct than Americans.
But immigrants who commit crimes still face criminal repercussions. Undocumented immigrants who are arrested for a crime must go through the criminal justice system -- similar to when an American is arrested for a crime -- and can serve jail time or pay fines for those crimes. ICE then holds a separate hearing to determine whether the immigrant should be subject to removal following jail time.
Fox's Bill O'Reilly and John Stossel forwarded the notion that government assistance does not lift Americans out of poverty, a claim directly contradicted by evidence.
On the September 17 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, host O'Reilly and Fox Business' Stossel discussed persistent and rising income inequality in the U.S. During the segment, Stossel and O'Reilly railed against government anti-poverty measures, with Stossel claiming that government makes "poverty worse with these programs" and that "we should get rid of most of government and allow poor people to become rich."
Stossel's claim about government programs not lifting Americans out of poverty is directly contradicted by evidence released hours before he made the claim.
On September 17, the Census Bureau released its annual report on income, poverty, and health insurance coverage for 2012. While the report showed the poverty rate remained unchanged from 2011, it also highlighted the effectiveness of government anti-poverty programs.
According to the report, if government noncash payments -- such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits -- were taken into account when calculating the poverty rate, millions of Americans would be lifted above the official poverty threshold. From the report:
- If unemployment insurance benefits were excluded from money income, 1.7 million more people would be counted as in poverty in 2012.
- If SNAP benefits were counted as income, 4 million fewer people would be categorized as in poverty in 2012.
- Taking account of the value of the federal earned income tax credit would reduce the number of children classified as in poverty in 2011 by 3.1 million.
Furthermore, as Sharon Parrott, vice president for budget policy and economic opportunity at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, notes, those who weren't lifted out of poverty by SNAP benefits -- also known as food stamps -- were made significantly less poor. The data from the latest Census report reaffirms SNAP as one of the most effective anti-poverty programs.
Fox's misleading campaign against anti-poverty programs -- particularly SNAP -- comes at a critical time. House Republicans plan to decrease funding for the program by nearly $40 billion over ten years, resulting in at least 3.8 million adults and children losing food assistance. The network has even inserted itself into the legislative push against SNAP, distributing its wildly inaccurate documentary on the program to Republican members of congress.
From the September 13 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
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Fox hosts Bill O'Reilly and Geraldo Rivera cited a U.S. census study which found that many poor Americans own appliances to paint entitlement recipients as lazy or unwilling to work. This analysis ignores the fact that 9 out of 10 Americans receiving entitlements are elderly, disabled, or were members of working households.
On the September 12 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly and Rivera claimed that government benefits are creating a disincentive for work. Rivera concluded that "it's one thing to be poor in India or even Mexico, it's another thing to be poor, according to these statistics, in the United States":
O'Reilly's attempt to demonize poor Americans as lazy, comfortable, or unwilling to work mischaracterizes the vast majority of Americans who receive benefits. According to a 2012 report from the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), 9 out of 10 Americans receiving entitlement benefits were either elderly, seriously disabled, or members of a working household in 2010:
91 percent of the benefit dollars from entitlement and other mandatory programs went to the elderly (people 65 and over), the seriously disabled, and members of working households. People who are neither elderly nor disabled -- and do not live in a working household -- received only 9 percent of the benefits.
Moreover, the vast bulk of that 9 percent goes for medical care, unemployment insurance benefits (which individuals must have a significant work history to receive), Social Security survivor benefits for the children and spouses of deceased workers, and Social Security benefits for retirees between ages 62 and 64. Seven out of the 9 percentage points go for one of these four purposes.
O'Reilly's segment on poverty in American also dismissed a September 3 report which found that income inequality is wider than it has been in almost a century. Rivera acknowledged the report but downplayed its findings, reasoning that government entitlements create a disincentive for the poor to work and "bootstrap themselves."
Contrary to O'Reilly and Rivera's claims, the CBPP also notes that the safety net has become more work-based, as the United States has significantly reduced assistance to the jobless poor and increased assistance to low-income working families. Programs like SNAP, the Earned Income Tax Credit, the Child Tax Credit, and Medicaid have done much more to promote work over the last 30 years. For example, the EITC has boosted employment among single mothers and has produced large declines in the number of single mothers receiving welfare.
From the September 11 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
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The confusing alliances continue to pile up as conservative media rush to criticize President Obama's foreign policy with regards to Syria and belittle his call to possibly use military force in the wake of allegations the Syrian government gassed its own people. Faced with the prospect of supporting a president they hate for a living, some formerly hawkish commentators, as well as members of Congress, have suddenly turned dovish and are relentlessly criticizing Obama for his call to use force.
Now with the news that Russia is a key player in a diplomatic initiative embraced by Obama to get Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to dismantle the country's chemical weapons, another colossal shift has occurred within America's right-wing media. Fox News and much of the conservative media are touting Vladimir Putin as Obama's superior. They're toasting the Russian president's superior smarts, marveling at his macho persona (a "He-Man"), and claiming he's making a fool out of Obama.
Fox security analyst K. T. McFarland this week suggested, "Vladimir Putin is the one who really deserves the Nobel Peace Prize" for rescuing the administration from "the mess" it had created. Ann Coulter appeared on Fox and repeatedly referred to Obama as Putin's "monkey." And yes, Matt Drudge recently touted Putin as "the leader of the free world."
Not surprisingly, Fox News wasn't always so affectionate towards Russia's president, a former KGB agent. And conservative commentators especially didn't feel so warmly about him when a Republican was in the White House.
In fact, Fox News' Bill O'Reilly in 2008 lashed out at America's so-called liberal media for giving Putin too much positive coverage. Specifically, O'Reilly denounced NBC for acting as Russia's "fifth column" in the U.S.; of being secret sympathizers of a foreign government [emphasis added]:
With a network like NBC, Vladimir Putin has a fifth column right here in the good old USA. But most Americans understand that Putin is a villain, a former secret police killer who's intent in imposing Russian influence on border countries.
O'Reilly himself has remained consistent with his disdain for Putin this week. (i.e. He's "a scoundrel.") But as he watches so many of his Fox News colleagues fawn all over the Russian leader, is O'Reilly ready to label the channel another fifth column in the good old USA?
Fox Sports fired football analyst Craig James after one appearance on the network, citing homophobic comments James made as a candidate for the U.S. Senate from Texas. Fox Sports' handling of James' remarks differs markedly from how its corporate sibling, Fox News, deals with anti-LGBT commentary from its employees.
During his unsuccessful bid for the Republican Party's Senate nomination in 2012, James called homosexuality "a choice" and stated that gays "are going to have to answer to the Lord for their actions." A Fox Sports spokesman explained the network's decision to sever its ties with James, telling The Dallas Morning News, "We just asked ourselves how Craig's statements would play in our human resources department. He couldn't say those things here."
James' comments got him fired from Fox Sports, but they would have been wholly unremarkable if he was at Fox News, where rabidly anti-LGBT talking heads are regularly given a platform to spout their bigoted views with impunity.
A self-styled "bitter" culture warrior, one of Starnes' trademark specialties is delivering hateful commentary about LGBT people. Besides offering standard right-wing boilerplate language about how marriage equality will inevitably lead to bestiality, Starnes has also called the gay-inclusive, post-Don't Ask Don't Tell military a sign of "the end of days," mocked transgender women as "big burly men in dresses," and defended anti-LGBT discrimination by businesses. After NBA player Jason Collins came out as gay, Starnes tweeted, "The NBA is turning into GLEE."
Starnes has no use for LGBT allies, either. After President Barack Obama condemned Russia's draconian crackdown on gays, Starnes promoted a conspiracy theory that he has long been obsessed with - that perhaps Obama is secretly gay.
While The O'Reilly Factor host received widespread attention following his concession that the LGBT movement has the stronger marriage equality argument, O'Reilly continues to deliver a steady stream of anti-LGBT remarks. In 2012, he warned that pro-LGBT shows like "Glee" would encourage youthful "experimentation" with homosexuality and transgender identities. He has depicted gay rights supporters as protectors of child molesters, called students "fascist[s]" for protesting an anti-gay cleric, advised parents to shame boys who like the color pink, and denounced a new California law protecting transgender students as "anarchy and madness" and "the biggest con in the world."
Continuing right-wing media attacks on the Department of Justice's attempts to protect school integration in Louisiana, Fox News host Bill O'Reilly completely ignored the multiple federal court orders blocking a school voucher plan that may cause re-segregation.
Recently, right-wing media have been ignoring their proclaimed fidelity to the rule of law and the U.S. Constitution by dismissing violations of civil rights law, supposedly out of sympathy for other persons of color unaffected by the racial discrimination in question.
The most prominent example of this paradoxical stance has been right-wing media's strenuous defense of the New York Police Department's (NYPD) stop and frisk policy on behalf of crime victims of color, despite the fact that federal courts have found it unconstitutionally discriminates against millions on the basis of race. This selective disregard for legal requirements when discussing significant civil rights holdings reemerged this week, with the announcement that the Department of Justice agrees with a recent federal court decision that found the school voucher program in Louisiana was not in compliance with a decades-old court order.
On August 27, the editorial board of The Wall Street Journal responded by attacking the Department of Justice's attempt to bring Louisiana back into compliance with multiple desegregation orders potentially violated by the voucher plan, and accused Attorney General Eric Holder of betraying the principles of Martin Luther King Jr. According to the WSJ, "[a] black Attorney General ought to be applauding this attempt to fulfill MLK's dream of equal educational opportunity. His lawsuit turns racial justice on its head."
Fox News has followed this lead by offering ill-informed explanations of the Department of Justice's actions and Louisiana's integration requirements. On the August 29 edition of The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly didn't even bother to mention the current court orders or the fact that Louisiana could easily seek authorization from the relevant federal courts for its voucher plan, instead accusing Holder and President Barack Obama of "siding with the left."
Responding to yesterday's strike by fast food workers across the country seeking better working conditions and a living wage, Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly decided their own stories of working low-wage jobs would do these workers more good.
Limbaugh told his audience about his former job selling tickets for the Kansas City Royals in 1979. That year he was paid $12,000. Limbaugh claimed on that income he "couldn't afford [his] house payment and food." For a family of two -- Limbaugh was married to his first wife at the time -- his income was nearly three times the 1978 baseline federal poverty level of $4,366 and nearly double the poverty line for a family of four, $6,612.
As Limbaugh himself pointed out, his $12,000 salary was the equivalent of $38,610.91 in today's dollars. Currently the poverty threshold for a two-person family sits at $15,510, less than half of Limbaugh's converted salary. The poverty line for a family of four is $23,550.
The workers Limbaugh was lecturing? Their median yearly salary is $18,500, barely above the poverty line for a family of two and $4,500 below the threshold for a family of four.
Limbaugh's experience in 1979 was vastly different than the one faced by low-wage workers today. Limbaugh concluded by claiming that "life is life and we all have self-determination and Martin Luther King understood it."
One of the demands of the 1963 March on Washington was a $2 per hour minimum wage, which according the Bureau of Labor Statistics' CPI inflation calculator is the equivalent of $15.27 in today's dollars -- nearly exactly what the workers going on strike yesterday were demanding.
Bill O'Reilly began with his story of scooping ice cream for minimum wage in his teenage years. In 1966, when O'Reilly was 17-years old, the minimum wage was $1.25 per hour or $9.01 in today's dollars -- nearly 24 percent more than minimum wage workers currently make -- putting a then-single O'Reilly well above the 1966 poverty line and nearly reaching the threshold for a family of four. Perhaps O'Reilly should return that 24 percent because according to his rant, guaranteeing a wage is "called socialism" and "the USA is a capitalist country."
Limbaugh and O'Reilly are two white men blessed with amazing communications ability. Neither was born wealthy but they were both able to parlay their talents, combined with some luck, into the upper economic echelons. From those heights they look down at the bottom opposing the concept that employers should pay a living wage and at the same time opposing food stamps, public housing, and other programs that would help bridge the gap for low-income workers. They offer no policy solutions other than if you're not making enough to get by, get another job.
From a position of extreme privilege, they point to their lowly beginnings and ask workers to survive on the same incomes they did. If only those who went out on strike yesterday were fortunate enough to receive the modern-day equivalent of the wages they did.