Fox News is continuing their effort to rebut a TV ad calling for stronger gun laws by falsely claiming it shows a man pointing a gun at children.
Fox News digital politics editor Chris Stirewalt criticized a recent ad produced by Mayors Against Illegal Guns that features a man with a shotgun calling for expanding the background check system, claiming that the man had the gun "sort of pointing back at the kids" who are playing behind him. Laughing, Stirewalt claimed that this allegedly unsafe behavior was "too hilarious" given that the ad's title is "Responsibility," adding, "I don't think too many Arkansans will be convinced that these people know what they are talking about."
In fact, as video from the ad Fox aired during the segment makes clear, the man in the ad is not pointing his shotgun in the direction of the children.
Stirewalt also joined several other conservative media figures in falsely claiming that the man in the ad had "his finger on the trigger" in an unsafe manner. But as Media Matters has documented, this is a false claim that critics are making based on a misunderstanding of where the trigger is on the firearm.
Right-wing media outlets have advanced a number of myths regarding automatic across-the-board spending cuts -- commonly called the sequester -- in order to hide the facts behind an inherently harmful economic policy.
Fox News ignored previous Republican praise for the law that created the upcoming sequester -- across-the-board government spending cuts -- to blame President Obama for potential negative effects if the cuts occur as scheduled on March 1.
The 2011 Budget Control Act created the sequester as an incentive for Congress to agree on deficit reduction measures. If Congress didn't pass those reductions above a certain threshold, the spending cuts in the sequester would automatically take place. A deal at the beginning of the year delayed the start of those cuts, which are now scheduled to take effect March 1.
Despite prior GOP praise for the law that created the sequester, Fox News is blaming Obama for its negative consequences. Responding to the president's request that Congress find a way to avoid the sequester, a Fox Nation headline on Wednesday declared: "Obama Seeks to Void Cuts He Signed Into Law." That same day, Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy called the sequester "the invention of the White House." On Tuesday's edition of America Live, Fox's Chris Stirewalt said of the sequester: "remember, this was [Obama's] idea."
After the 2011 Budget Control Act passed, however, senior House Republicans hailed it as a potential game-changer on spending cuts -- a fact that Fox News has been hiding as the network blames Obama for the creation of the sequester. After it passed, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said the law "will finally begin to change the way Washington spends taxpayer dollars." Speaker of the House John Boehner touted the law as "a positive step forward that begins to rein in federal spending." House Budget Committee Chairman and former Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan said:
The Budget Control Act represents a victory for those committed to controlling government spending and growing our economy. I applaud Speaker Boehner's leadership in stopping tax increases on job creators, rejecting President Obama's demands for a blank check to keep borrowing, and advancing real spending cuts and controls.
But the sequester contains spending cuts that will seriously weaken the economic recovery. MarketWatch reported that the Congressional Budget Office estimated that the sequester would halve U.S. economic growth this year, and the Bipartisan Policy Center estimated that it would cut one million jobs if it took effect. Recognizing these harmful effects, Obama is now urging Congress to find a way to further delay the sequester to find a permanent replacement to it.
Rush Limbaugh said that "it's up to me and Fox News" to stop immigration reform. Fox News digital politics editor Chris Stirewalt appears to be answering the call, characterizing possible provisions for same sex couples in immigration reform as a "poison pill" proposal from President Barack Obama as part of a campaign to "enrage the right, divide the GOP and set the table for a Democratic victory in 2014."
BuzzFeed reports that the White House framework for immigration reform will include provisions for opening up green card eligibility for same sex couples. Heterosexual couples routinely have access to permanent resident visas via marriage, while same sex couples do not because the Defense of Marriage Act bars federal recognition of same sex marriages.
Stirewalt's column again spotlights the role of Fox and other elements of the conservative media in policing the Republican Party in order to prevent the passage of legislation alongside Democrats. President Obama discussed this dynamic in an interview with The New Republic: "If a Republican member of Congress is not punished on Fox News or by Rush Limbaugh for working with a Democrat on a bill of common interest, then you'll see more of them doing it."
As Reuters reported, "There are at least 28,500 same-sex couples in the United States in which one partner is a U.S. citizen and the other is not, and 11,500 same-sex couples where neither partner is a U.S. citizen." By that measure, proposals on this issue would affect at least 80,000 people in a same sex relationship.
Immigration Equality, a pro-reform group, estimates that 45% of these couples also have children, who of course would be directly affected by these immigration reforms.
Fox News and Rush Limbaugh have each attacked President Obama for his recent comments pointing out their influence on the political process. But both Fox News and Limbaugh have indeed influenced Republican politicians' actions in the past.
In a recent interview with The New Republic, Obama said he believes that bipartisan legislation is more likely to pass if a Republican member of Congress isn't "punished on Fox News or by Rush Limbaugh for working with a Democrat on a bill of common interest."
Fox News' Megyn Kelly and Chris Stirewalt discussed Obama's comments on Monday's broadcast of America Live. Kelly claimed Obama was "saying if somebody disagrees with him, if these Republicans disagree with him, it has to be because someone has manipulated them" and said that his comments sounded "dismissive of heartfelt beliefs that Republicans may hold, or their constituents may hold."
Stirewalt agreed, saying that Obama "imputes to his critics the worst possible motives." Stirewalt also claimed that Obama feels that "anybody who opposes him on these things is doing so because they're a coward, because they're being controlled by Rush Limbaugh or because of what's being said by the purveyors of opinion on the Fox News Channel."
Limbaugh also discussed Obama's comments on his radio show Monday and concluded that Obama is "trying to goad me into saying something extreme -- like that would ever happen -- so that he can kick off a new boycott." He then said listeners had told him they fear that "talk like this from the president has a chilling effect on free speech and the freedom of the press," and responded by saying sarcastically, "My friends, Obama would never do anything to try to limit Fox, or me and my right to express myself. ... Only dictators like Hugo Chavez do things like that."
Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly criticized President Obama for blaming "gun rights supporters" for recent spikes in gun sales, which Obama said were motivated by fearmongering about upcoming gun violence prevention measures, but omitted the role of conservative media figures -- particularly on Fox -- in promoting the issue.
On the January 15 America Live, Kelly highlighted the following statement from President Obama in response to a question at his press conference the previous day about long lines at gun shows and gun stores in recent months:
As far as people lining up and purchasing more guns, I think that we've seen for some time now that those who oppose any common-sense gun control or gun safety measures have a pretty effective way of ginning up fear on the part of gun owners that somehow the federal government is about to take all your guns away. And there's probably an economic element to that. It obviously is good for business.
In her conversation with Fox Digital Politics Editor Chris Stirewalt, Kelly highlighted the concerns of "gun rights advocates," saying:
And in the day or so, 24 hours or so since he's made those remarks, there's been a considerable amount of pushback from gun rights supporters who say he just doesn't get it, that it's not that anybody has scared them, on their side or otherwise into believing something's going to happen that's not going to happen, it's that they're listening to the actual proposals being debated right now on Capitol Hill and they are concerned about their Second Amendment rights based on what they're hearing directly from the President and his surrogates.
Stirewalt agreed, asserting that Obama was "impugning the motives of those on the other side of this debate."
Media figures have smeared President Obama's nominee for secretary of defense, former Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE), by misrepresenting Hagel's support for sanctions against Iran and his support for Israel. The media have also cast doubt on the bipartisan support for Hagel's nomination.
Fox News' Megyn Kelly and Chris Stirewalt used a recent poll that asked whether Americans believe the federal government protects or threatens their individual liberties to resurrect previous smears by right-wing media and Republicans that suggests half the country is dependent on government.
During the December 12 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom, Kelly and Fox News digital politics editor Stirewalt highlighted a recent poll by Rasmussen saying 45 percent of likely U.S. voters see the federal government as a "protector" of individual rights, while 46 percent say the government is a "threat" to those rights.
Kelly said that the poll shows the rhetoric between "red vs. blue" (Republicans vs. Democrats) is sharply divided on whether the federal government protects or threatens individual rights. Kelly explains that people who fall into the "blue" category believe the government can "save" them, while those in the "red" feel the government needs to "stay out of my business." Fox contributor Chris Stirewalt went on to look at what he claimed is the "underlying question": "Does the government give you things? Do you have a right to things like, for example, health insurance or other things? Or do you believe you have a right to be protected from the government?"
Stirewalt further suggested that conservatives believe that the Constitution is meant "to protect you from the government," while liberals believe the government should "provide for the needs of the individual." This prompted Kelly to note that the number of people who see the government as a "protector" has gone up, suggesting, in her mind, that this is "a shift in favor of big government."
In fact, the actual wording of the Rasmussen poll question was much different than Stirewalt and Kelly led on. The question simply stated, "Is the federal government today a protector of individual rights or a threat to individual rights?"
Fox's twist on the poll echoed comments made by former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Romney's infamous remarks suggested that 47 percent of Americans are "dependent upon government" echoed right-wing "makers vs. takers" rhetoric -- an argument that has been repeatedly promoted on Fox News. This is also the same idea behind the conservative media's suggestion that people voted for President Obama and Democrats because they see Obama as "Santa Claus" and just "want stuff."
Fox News mischaracterized a new proposal to set emissions limits for existing power plants, suggesting that Environmental Protection Agency regulation would make electricity rates increase and likely draw the opposition of "carbon state Democrats." In fact, the plan is expected to lead to lower power bills through improved energy efficiency, and allows states with carbon-intensive power to make cost-effective and realistic steps toward sustainable power.
Laying out a plan for President Obama to address climate change in his second term, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) released a proposal to regulate carbon emissions from existing power plants under the Clean Air Act using a flexible approach that can be tailored for each state and would minimize economic impacts. William Reilly, a former EPA administrator under President George H.W. Bush, stated of the plan: "This is an imaginative proposal that addresses some real needs. It deserves to be carefully analyzed and taken seriously by all the affected interests."
But Fox News' America Live claimed that "this kind of proposal would obviously have huge economic impact that could spread across industries." Fox News Digital Politics Editor Chris Stirewalt said that under any EPA regulation of existing power plants, Americans "may see their power bills go up and they may see scarcity down the road." He offered that "there are enough carbon state Democrats" that could try to prevent the EPA from acting.
But EPA regulations could actually lower power bills. The NRDC proposal gives plant owners credit for energy efficiency increases, which, according to the analysis from a widely-used modeling firm, would lead to lower power bills. Grist's David Roberts explained:
The fact that energy efficiency counts as compliance is crucial to the economics of NRDC's proposal. If avoided carbon counts toward reducing average fleet emissions, then every utility, in every state and region, has access to inexpensive compliance measures.
Remember: Efficiency saves ratepayers money. According to modeling of the NRDC proposal done by ICF International, by complying through efficiency measures, utilities could achieve the proposed carbon standards while slightly reducing power bills. And every dollar not spent on power is a dollar of annual economic stimulus.
Megyn Kelly opened the October 8 edition of Fox News' America Live by attacking the Obama campaign for describing Mitt Romney's debate performance as untruthful, and contrasting it with reactions to Rep. Joe Wilson's "you lie" outburst during President Obama's 2009 speech to Congress on health care reform. But she didn't note that Wilson's accusation was actually false, while many of Romney's assertions were provably false. Kelly also absurdly equated statements on political talk shows with actions in Congress, which are governed by rules of protocol.
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.
Fox News figures have routinely invoked Ronald Reagan while discussing Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his running mate, Congressman Paul Ryan. Most recently, Fox compared Ryan to the former president by splicing together their quotes and saying that Ryan and Reagan are physically and ideologically similar.
Fox News is obscuring the negative impact of Congressman Paul Ryan's Medicare plan on seniors by accusing President Obama and the Democrats of "stoking fears" about the plan. In fact, Ryan's plan would adversely affect current and future seniors, forcing them, among other things, to pay more for prescription drugs, and it would create a voucher system that would drive up health care costs.
Right-wing media have claimed that Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) is "the ideological heir" to Ronald Reagan, while ignoring a big part of what makes this statement true: Reagan and Ryan both supported policies that vastly increased the federal deficit.
Fox News digital politics editor Chris Stirewalt claimed Ryan was the "ideological heir to Reagan's movement." Fox News contributor KT MacFarland said: "With a Romney-Ryan ticket, it's like Reagan again." And Fox host Andrea Tantaros claimed Ryan "sounds very Reaganesque."
But none of them mentioned one of the most important similarities between Ryan and Reagan: the fact that, while they talked about reining in deficits, they both supported policies that vastly increased the deficit.
According to the Office of Management and Budget's historical data, during his presidency, Reagan saw federal spending increase by 22 percent. Additionally, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the federal deficit nearly doubled under Reagan, going from about $790 billion to $1.55 trillion.
Reagan also signed debt ceiling increases 18 times during his presidency.
Similarly, Ryan's most recent budget would explode the deficit over the next decade.
Last week, two new reports -- released by the Brennan Center of Justice at the NYU School of Law and the University of Delaware's Center for Political Communication, respectively -- further undermined the conservative media's discredited claims that voter ID laws do not have a discriminatory impact on persons of color and are not intended to be discriminatory on the basis of race. These reports are timely because as restrictive voting rules in conservative-leaning states increasingly materialize, civil rights advocates are noting that these state laws look very much like poll taxes- voter suppression tactics long prohibited. In response, the right-wing media has recycled multiple messages to disavow the impermissible racial discrimination of these laws.
Right-wing media try many different smokescreens in addition to just denying the racial effect of voter ID laws and redistricting altogether. For example, they have disputed the veracity of data to the contrary, argued that these tactics are not in fact barriers, and raised the specter of voter fraud, which experts have demonstrated is practically non-existent. However, it is still the first defense -- that these efforts have no racial effect -- which feeds most effectively into the right wing's preferred "colorblind" narrative.
This right-wing media denial of the racial effect usually has two components in an attempt to whitewash voter suppression, claiming that whatever effect these laws have on communities of color is wholly incidental. That is, there may be a discriminatory impact, but there is no discriminatory intent. Although the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal may have been the most recent mainstream purveyor of this message -- condemning any criticism of the recent wave of conservative-backed voter ID laws as "racial politics" -- they are far from alone in the right-wing media.