Fox News commentators have reimagined U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice's statements about the consulate attack in Benghazi, saying Rice was "so definitive" in Sunday show interviews about what had happened there. In fact, Rice repeatedly made clear during her interviews that definitive conclusions would only follow from an administration investigation, which she stressed was under way.
Fox News contributor Charles Krauthammer obscured Mitt Romney's stance on abortion by claiming that his October 10 remarks about pursuing a pro-life agenda as president do not contradict his earlier suggestion that he would not enact abortion legislation if elected. In fact, Romney's October 10 statements were "an abrupt about-face" that dovetailed with his long history of shifting his stance on abortion.
From the October 5 edition of Fox News' Special Report:
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Fox News' Stuart Varney and Charles Krauthammer have accused the Obama administration of breaking the law for advising federal contractors not to issue warnings of layoffs that may occur in the wake of budget "sequestration." But the administration is in fact correctly following the WARN Act, which explicitly disallows blanket notices to all Department of Defense (DOD) contractors before Congress specifies what contracts are to be cancelled.
The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act requires federal contractors to inform their employees of the impending loss of their jobs 60 days prior to layoffs. Both Varney and Krauthammer misrepresent the law's requirements by arguing DOD contractors must issue sequestration layoff warnings before the presidential election, contrary to the legal advice of the Department of Labor (DOL), Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and independent experts. In fact, because budget cuts mandated by sequestration are not currently specified and would not take place immediately, WARN Act layoff warnings would be inappropriate at this juncture and are not "the law...written in stone," as erroneously asserted by Varney on the October 2 edition of America's Newsroom, nor is the administration's position "absolutely lawless," as claimed by Krauthammer on the October 2 edition of Special Report.
As explained by the nonpartisan Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), under the Budget Control Act of 2011, Congress' inability to negotiate a long-term budget plan triggers "sequestration -- a form of automatic cuts that apply largely across the board -- [which] is now scheduled to occur starting in January 2013 and to cover the period through 2021." The CBPP has also pointed out that these automatic cuts to the federal budget include unspecified cuts to DOD spending -- including payments to defense contractors - which even after sequestration is formally triggered, would not be clear until months later. According to CBPP, "[w]hile the limit on spending authority will be imposed at the beginning of the year, the actual reductions in spending will occur over the course of the year and into subsequent fiscal years."
Therefore, as The New York Times has reported, "no one knows what 'sequestration,' the term for the automatic cuts, will look like, not lawmakers, not the military." Contractors are even more unlikely to know what the cuts will look like, as they won't be alerted by their agency until after Congress acts in January. Because no one knows which programs will be cut, and thus, which employees will be laid off when -- or if -- sequestration occurs, defense contractors cannot send out notices to those affected without notifying their entire workforce, a type of blanket alarm explicitly disallowed by the WARN Act.
Right-wing media are offering GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney advice for the upcoming presidential debate. They suggest Romney should push economic myths to attack Obama's record, "smack the president," and get under Obama's skin.
Welcome to the age of post-truth journalism.
Glenn Kessler, the resident fact checker at The Washington Post, took Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney to task last month for continuing to accuse President Obama of going on an "apology tour," writing with clear exasperation: "Despite earning Four Pinocchios for months, Romney keeps saying this."
Kessler's lament neatly sums up the problem of post-truth politics, a problem that has plagued the political press throughout the campaign, as pants-on-fire falsehoods accusing Obama of ending welfare work requirements, and four Pinnochio fabrications about Medicare funding were repeated on a loop en route to a Republican National convention built on the "you didn't build that" lie and focusing on Paul Ryan's fact-free convention speech.
Put simply by Boston Phoenix political journalist David Bernstein:
More important for media professionals: What do you do when people employed by your own media outlet practice post-truth journalism? What if the entire news media, including your own in-house fact-checker, has called out your colleague's lie, but he keeps pressing it? Now what?
Washington Post columnist Marc Thiessen, a former speechwriter for President George W. Bush, came under fire this week over a self-evidently false attack in the Post questioning President Obama's commitment to national security.
The central claim in Thiessen's September 10 column was that Obama has not prioritized national security. Thiessen's evidence was a report (a report, it later turned out, that he commissioned) claiming that Obama has not attended half of his daily intelligence briefings.
The column itself was self-defeating: Thiessen acknowledged in the column that Obama reads his intelligence briefing every day, quoting a spokesman for the National Security Council who said that Obama "reads his [security briefing] every day." All Thiessen is quibbling over is whether Obama has his briefing dictated to him, or whether he reads it.
Perhaps book on tape would satisfy the Post scribe?
Thiessen's self-evident falsehood, published in the Post, became fodder for a Karl Rove ad, at which point Kessler weighed in, giving the "bogus" and "misguided attack" three Pinnochios.
Thiessen quickly thumbed his nose at the Post's fact checker
And Thiessen is not alone in the Post's stable of post-truth columnists. In a September 28 column, Charles Krauthammer claimed that Obama's entire Middle East foreign policy has been built on apologies - the very basis of Kessler's exasperated Aug. 30 critique of Romney.
Despite earning four Pinnochios for months, the Post keeps printing this?
This morning, Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer pushed the myth that "Obama's entire Middle East policy" consists of "apology and accommodation." This claim, however, has been repeatedly debunked by Washington Post own fact-checker, Glenn Kessler.
Kessler has noted that the speeches conservatives cite to push the myth that Obama regularly apologizes for the United States do not contain apologies and have often been "selectively trimmed for political purposes":
The claim that Obama repeatedly has apologized for the United States is not borne out by the facts, especially if his full quotes are viewed in context.
Obama often was trying to draw a rhetorical distinction between his policies and that of President Bush, a common practice when the presidency changes parties. The shift in policies, in fact, might have been more dramatic from Clinton to Bush than from Bush to Obama, given how Obama has largely maintained Bush's approach to fighting terrorism.
In other cases, Obama's quotes have been selectively trimmed for political purposes. Or they were not much different than sentiments expressed by Bush or his secretary of state.
In his column, Krauthammer went on to say that Obama has ignored the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya and referred to the attack as mere "bumps in the road." In fact, Obama has repeatedly condemned the Benghazi attack, and when Obama said "bumps in the road," he was referring to his support for Arab countries' transition from autocracy to democracy during the Arab Spring, even though he knew the transition would not be perfect.
This is the second time in a week that a conservative Washington Post columnist has push a falsehood debunked by Kessler. Post columnist Marc Thiessen claimed that President Obama had often skipped his intelligence briefings and Kessler responded with a thorough debunking. Thiessen then criticized Kessler's debunking, and Kessler updated his original post, stating that Thiessen's answer was an "interesting if not very factual argument."
Right-wing media have pushed numerous myths about the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, and protests in the Middle East, from distorting the Obama administration's response to the attacks to misleading about the nature of security at the Benghazi consulate.
Fox News is claiming that on 60 Minutes President Obama characterized the death of an American ambassador and other violence as "bumps in the road." In fact, when Obama made that statement, he was referring to the fact that he supported the transition of Arab countries from autocratic rule to democracy during the Arab Spring even though he knew the transition would not be perfect.
From the September 18 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier:
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Conservative media figures who have been longtime supporters of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are accusing the Obama administration of pursuing a policy of disengagement in the Middle East, pointing to the end of the war in Iraq and the troop drawdown in Afghanistan. But unmentioned in their criticism is when they think it would have been an appropriate time to withdraw from both countries, if at all.
On Friday September 14, Fox News contributor Charles Krauthammer appeared on Hannity to discuss the violent anti-American protests that have erupted in recent days in the Middle East. Krauthammer blamed the violence on America's foreign policy under Obama, accusing the president of disengaging in the Middle East, including in Iraq and Afghanistan. He claimed that Obama has "changed American policy on the theory that the reason that people hated us was because we were tough," adding:
KRAUTHAMMER: And he was now apologizing and promising to change course. We would no longer be tough. We would be loved. We would show compassion. And we would get out of Iraq. He sets a deadline for Afghanistan. He doesn't support the Green Revolution in Iran. He shows the Ayatollahs tremendous respect. He essentially protects them when they are under attack. He gets nowhere on the Iran nuclear issue. He is equivocal uncertain during the Arab Spring. He leads from behind in Libya. The theory was if we go soft, if we are very nice, if we say 'Assalamu alaikum,' enough times, everything will be all right. And what he decided is, the way to do that, the theory and therefore the practice is going to be, retreat and withdraw. Remember the line he uses? The tide of war is receding. That means the tide of American power is receding.
He added that Obama's policies have created a "vacuum" in the Middle East that radical Muslims "are now going to fill."
Krauthammer's misguided sentiments echoed in the Fox chamber today when Fox News contributor and National Review columnist Jonah Goldberg, on America's Newsroom, said, "I agree with [Krauthammer] entirely about the vacuum that we're creating in the Middle East, about withdrawal, about the sense that Obama has created that we're not going to meddle in Middle Eastern affairs when there's freedom on the march, and that kind of thing."
On Fox News, Charles Krauthammer suggested that "under other presidents, particularly Bush," there was "no storming of the U.S. embassy in Cairo." In fact, there were seven attacks on U.S. embassies and consulates during the Bush years, and numerous other such attacks have happened under recent presidents.
Since President Obama's election, right-wing media have tried to find wrongdoing by top Obama administration officials. The pseudo-scandal they have contrived have resulted in investigations, congressional hearings, and right-wing media bluster, but they have not resulted in any evidence of wrongdoing by top Obama administration officials.
From the September 4 edition of Fox News' America's Election HQ:
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Mitt Romney's nomination acceptance speech contained numerous falsehoods that originated in the right-wing media. Right-wing media have also echoed some of Romney's other dubious claims that were part of the speech.