Fox News and the Drudge Report are ignoring years of Republicans obstructing the implementation of health care reform to accuse the Obama administration of delaying the law for political gain, in the process dismissing the fact that businesses are praising the administration's move.
The Treasury Department announced on June 2 that the Obama administration elected to delay the deadline for large businesses, which employ 50 people or more, to offer health insurance to their employees from January 2014 to January 2015. Treasury explained that its decision was made in part following consultations with businesses, who had expressed concerns about the deadline and requested more time to implement the new requirements under the Affordable Care Act.
Fox News and the Drudge Report reacted to the announcement by baselessly claiming that the administration's decision was politically motivated and was linked to the approaching 2014 midterm elections. During the June 2 edition of Fox News' Hannity, guest host Tucker Carlson claimed he did not believe the delay until 2015 was an accident, saying to his guests "It seems to me they have been mindful of the political calendar, Joe, from day one ... You can't look, either of you, look at me straight in the eye and say that political considerations played no role in the implementation of the less popular parts of this incredibly complex law."
On the June 3 Fox & Friends, guest co-host Clayton Morris similarly suggested that the decision to push back the deadline was political, asking "The real question is, is it political? Because of course you have the 2014 midterm elections and you have mass layoffs," while co-host Brian Kilmeade claimed it was purposefully delayed "until after the election." Later in the show, on-screen test read "Political Ploy?"
The Drudge Report also alleged that the decision was political:
In fact, as the Washington Post reported, the delay is due to years of legal and political challenges to the law from conservatives (emphasis added):
The decision comes as a result of years of bumps and setbacks for the overhaul, including legal challenges and political opposition that have hampered its implementation. Last summer, the Supreme Court upheld the law but struck down a mandatory expansion of Medicaid. State officials and businesses held off changing their policies through the 2012 presidential campaign because Obama's GOP opponent, Mitt Romney, had promised to repeal the law.
Some populous states, including Florida and Texas, have decided not to set up exchanges, putting a far bigger burden on federal health officials to serve Americans. The exchanges are being designed to offer a variety of insurance plans; the federal insurance exchange is set to begin in less than three months.
The Wall Street Journal similarly reported that "legal and political challenges" from the right meant businesses did not have enough time to implement the new requirements:
Some companies had bet the law was going to be overturned by the Supreme Court last year, or by a new presidential administration after the 2012 election. After it withstood those legal and political challenges, some firms said there was too little time remaining before the provision was due to kick in.
Business groups -- including the conservative Chamber of Commerce -- are praising the decision, for it allows businesses time to adapt to the new rules. The New York Times reported:
Employer groups were quick to applaud the delay. At the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has strongly opposed the law, Randy Johnson, senior vice president for labor, immigration and employee benefits, said in a statement, "The administration has finally recognized the obvious -- employers need more time and clarification of the rules of the road before implementing the employer mandate.
E. Neil Trautwein, a vice president of the National Retail Federation, said the delay "will provide employers and businesses more time to update their health care coverage without threat of arbitrary punishment."
Right-wing media are falsely claiming that a State Department Inspector General review is linked to dubious allegations that State ignored "whistleblowers" during an independent review of attacks on a diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya. In fact, the routine investigation was planned before the State Department's Accountability Review Board released its findings, has nothing to do with "whistleblower" allegations, and will investigate decades of State actions.
During a tease for Fox & Friends Saturday, Fox News hosts Alisyn Camerota and Clayton Morris perpetuated mischaracterizations of a Phoenix, AZ program designed to diversify the lifeguard ranks at city pools. Camerota falsely claimed that Phoenix would be hiring minority applicants as lifeguards, "even though they cannot swim" because the city must "meet quotas for diversity."
Camerota was echoing discredited myths about a lifeguard diversity program that right-wing websites like Fox Nation, Glenn Beck's The Blaze, and National Review Online have peddled in recent days. There is no evidence that a quota system is being used. In fact, the program she referred to is a scholarship that covers the cost of lifeguard-certification courses for minority students in order to encourage a more diverse field of applicants.
Despite Camerota's claim, all scholarship-sponsored applicants will still be required to pass a swim test before they are hired.
Will Fox News correct these mischaracterizations during their April 6 segment?
Fox & Friends Sunday hosted a small business owner to disparage the Affordable Care Act without disclosing his membership in the anti-health care reform group National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB).
Co-hosts Clayton Morris and Tucker Carlson identified their guest David McArthur only as a "small business owner" while interviewing him about the impact the Affordable Care Act might have on his small bakery in St. Louis. Morris asked, "Do you feel that these plans, Obamacare specifically, limit growth in this country and [are] holding back the economy, because small business owners like yourself are afraid to hire and afraid to grow?" McArthur replied, "Well, certainly it does."
The NFIB was the lead plaintiff suing to overturn the Affordable Care Act before the Supreme Court. In a post titled "The Group Trying To Kill Obamacare," Salon.com's Alex Seitz-Wald reported that the group spent at least $2.9 million in 2010 alone working to overturn the law. The Huffington Post reported that the NFIB "received 10 donations totaling more than $10 million from anonymous donors" in 2010 and 2011, in addition to $3.7 million in funding from Karl Rove's Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies. The Huffington Post also reported that the organization's "multimillion-dollar independent expenditures and campaign donations have benefited almost exclusively Republicans."
This is not the first time Fox has hosted undisclosed NFIB members to criticize the Affordable Care Act.
In July 2012, Fox & Friends hosted small business owner Mike Paine to attack the health care reform law without disclosing his membership in the organization. Prior to that, NFIB member and small business owner Joe Olivo appeared on Fox News and Fox Business at least six times to criticize the Affordable Care Act, without disclosure of his membership.
Fox broke from its usual narrative by reporting that over the last 43 years the net worth of the wealthy has "skyrocketed," pointing to this as a rationale for President Obama's call to allow past tax cuts for the wealthy to expire. Previously, Fox has manufactured the notion of a high tax burden on the wealthiest Americans, in order to attack Obama for wanting to let these cuts expire.
During a Fox & Friends Sunday segment co-host Clayton Morris attempted to use a study on household net worth to attack President Obama's plan to end the Bush-era tax cuts on the wealthy. But during the segment, co-host Alisyn Camerota, citing the study, reported that median net worth is the "lowest it has been in decades" but for "the top 1 percent, the net worth has skyrocketed" going up 71 percent during the period analyzed. Camerota noted that the discrepancy in net worth is one reason that Obama has proposed returning the top marginal tax rates for high-income earners to their previous level.
Indeed, a study by New York University economics professor Edward Wolff found that the net worth of American households has fallen to a 43-year low. CBS reported that Wolff found that while the median net worth of American households had fallen to $57,000 because "the lower and middle classes appear poorer and less stable," the "wealthiest 1 percent of American households increased their average wealth by 71 percent" during the same period.
Fox & Friends Saturday speculated that politics had motivated revisions to an early set of Obama administration talking points about the attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya. Yet a Fox correspondent reported Friday night that some lawmakers said the changes were made to protect classified information.
U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice used the talking points during September 16 appearances on the Sunday news shows, and Fox News has since sought to scandalize those interviews and use them as ammunition in a campaign to prevent her from being nominated as secretary of state.
On Fox & Friends Saturday, the co-hosts discussed Friday's closed-door congressional testimony of former CIA director David Petraeus and the revelation that in talking points about the attack, language suggesting the perpetrators belonged to Al Qaeda affiliates had been changed to refer more generally to "extremists."
At the beginning of the segment, co-host Dave Briggs said, "[T]here are a lot of questions after what Petraeus told Congress. Because we still don't know why exactly the talking points were changed. He said on Friday that he knew it was terrorism from the very start." Later, the co-hosts speculated that the White House had edited the talking points for political reasons:
MORRIS: By the way, we'll be speaking to Peter King coming up a little later to try to find out who in the administration, then, got the intelligence information in their hands and said, "OK, here the intelligence community says 'Al Qaeda.' Now, let's get the eraser out. Let's change it to 'extremists,' because somehow now we don't want to classify it as Al Qaeda," when it was glaring to General Petraeus and these other intelligence officers?
BRIGGS: And there's also the question of why change it. If -- and I mean, look --
MORRIS: To keep with that narrative?
BRIGGS: It begs the question, did they want to keep that narrative that the war on terror was being won, that Al Qaeda had been crushed?
Yet on the Friday broadcast of The Five, homeland security correspondent Catherine Herridge reported that while Republicans said the talking points change was "an effort to downplay or minimize the role of terrorists in the Benghazi attack," Democrats say that "these changes were not driven by politics, they were simply made to protect classified information."
From the September 30 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends Sunday:
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Fox News host Mike Huckabee argued today that creating jobs for teachers for the sake of boosting U.S. employment would be "nonsensical." In doing so, he ignored the sustained massive layoffs of teachers across the country since the end of the recession and the subsequent ramifications. In fact, there is every need to hire teachers during this recovery and not just because "you want to make some jobs," as Huckabee claimed.
Huckabee was responding to comments by President Obama calling on Republicans to pass his jobs plan, which Obama said "could create a million new jobs right now," including jobs for teachers and construction workers. Huckabee replied by saying:
HUCKABEE: The federal government doesn't hire teachers. Where do teachers get hired? Local school boards. Education is a local function not a federal function. It is not the job of the federal government to hire teachers.
And the other question is: Do you hire teachers 'cause you just want to make some jobs or do you hire teachers 'cause you actually need them 'cause you have more kids in the classroom than you had last year? That's a nonsensical kind of approach to job creation -- let's make some work, and let's just go into more debt to do it.
In fact, Obama was not asking the federal government to hire teachers; he was accurately noting the role government can play in staving off public sector job losses, which experts contend have played an especially detrimental role in swelling unemployment. From the Wall Street Journal:
The unemployment rate would be far lower if it hadn't been for those cuts: If there were as many people working in government as there were in December 2008, the unemployment rate in April would have been 7.1%, not 8.1%.
Ceteris is rarely paribus, of course: If there were more government jobs now, for example, it's likely that not as many people would have left the labor force, and so the actual unemployment rate would be north of 7.1%.
According to the Hamilton Project, teachers accounted for 220,000 of these public sector job loses from 2009 to 2011, a decline of 5.6 percent.
The Economy Policy Institute estimated that had the Jobs Act been enacted, "[a]id to state governments for rehiring teachers and first responders would have boosted employment by an additional 210,000 jobs," and that "[i]n total, full passage of the American Jobs Act would have increased employment by more than 1.6 million jobs."
From the July 14 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends Saturday:
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From the July 11 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
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Fox & Friends contributed several minutes of their Wednesday program to mocking the United States Olympic team uniform which includes a "French beret." While suggesting that the wearing of berets is unpatriotic, the co-hosts seemed to forget that most of the United States military wear berets until receiving emails from their viewers pointing out this fact.
On NBC's Today, American company Ralph Lauren unveiled the design for the United States Olympic team opening ceremony uniforms, which are topped off with a navy blue beret with red and white stripes. Fox mocked the decision to top the uniform off with a "French" hat.
Not only did they fail to mention that the United States military wear berets as part of their uniforms, but that the 2002 Olympic uniforms for the Salt Lake City Olympics also featured powder blue berets.
DOOCY: Should the American team be wearing a beret? Why not a baseball cap? Why not a cowboy hat like when we went to Calgary?
A basic Google search reveals that berets have been in use by the United States military "unofficially as early as 1954," and as part of the official uniform as early as 1961.
Fox's mockery of the "French" headgear continued until they received "a lot of email" from viewers pointing out the military connection to the Olympic team's headgear, forcing co-host Steve Doocy to make a disclaimer: "There is a team that's already wearing a Beret for America, and that's the special forces guys, and they look great."
Last fall, right-wing pundits at Fox News and elsewhere savaged Elizabeth Warren, the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate in Massachusetts, after video circulated of the former Obama administration official explaining that because business moguls take advantage of infrastructure and education funded by taxes, "[t]here is nobody in this country who got rich on his own." This morning, an unlikely group offered up comments strikingly similar to Warren's: the hosts of Fox & Friends Sunday.
During a segment on wealthy Americans who renounce their citizenship to avoid paying taxes, Clayton Morris offered up this advice to such persons: "Get out of here. But the point is, you've made all this money on the backs of the infrastructure, taxpayers that got you there, the roads that taxpayers pay so you can drive back and forth to work to get rich on a regular basis, and now you're going to leave so you're not going to pay taxes."
Alisyn Camerota added, "[A]re they just greedy? I mean, are they just -- after this country allowed you the entrepreneurial spirit, the freedom to make all this money, now you're going to leave it? I mean, that does send the message that you care more about your money than you do about your country."
Compare their comments to those Warren made during a campaign stop in August while pushing back against claims that asking the wealthy to pay more in taxes is "class warfare":
WARREN: There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody. You built a factory out there -- good for you. But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn't have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory and hire someone to protect against this because of the work the rest of us did. Now look. You built a factory, and it turned into something terrific or a great idea -- God bless! Keep a big hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.
There are some differences, of course. Fox & Friends being what it is, the segment concludes with the hosts determining that "the answer" is to "be part of the solution" by "stay[ing] here and... fight[ting] for better tax laws," followed by a series of jokes about European toilets. But both make the case that the private sector success of the wealthy is driven by government investments funded by the public. Fox, of course, has long been a chief promoter of the very claims of "class warfare" Warren criticized.
In October, Fox News' Andrew Napolitano responded to Warren's comments by labeling her a "crazy lady." Reason magazine editor in chief Matt Welch called them "the best advertisement I've seen in a long time for limiting the size and scope of government" and "terrifying." Other right-wing commenters termed her remarks "dunderheaded" "piffle" that made her sound like a "guileless, fevered Marxist."
It remains to be seen whether the right will similarly target the "Marxist[s]" on Fox & Friends' curvy couch.
Fox News pushed the falsehood that the Department of Homeland Security's change in immigration policy will cause people "to go running over the border" in order to get their children a place to stay in America. In fact, the new policy, which exempts certain young undocumented immigrants from deportation, applies only to immigrants who have been living in the United States for five years.
Today was no different with Fox & Friends Sunday co-host Clayton Morris saying that there could be "a major spike of illegal immigration in the short term, with people thinking, hey, here is my window of opportunity to be -- get my kids a place to stay in America" and co-host Juliet Huddy interjecting, "Now's the time to go running over the border."
In fact, people who immigrate to the United States now are not covered by the DHS policy change. The announcement states that to be eligible, an immigrant must have come to the United States before the age of sixteen, graduated from high school or be an honorably discharged veteran, and not have a criminal background. In addition, the immigrant must have lived continually in the United States for five years and been present on the date of the policy announcement, June 16, 2012.
Furthermore, immigrants must have "verifiable documentation" that they have been living here for five years:
Only those individuals who can prove through verifiable documentation that they meet these criteria will be eligible for deferred action. Individuals will not be eligible if they are not currently in the United States and cannot prove that they have been physically present in the United States for a period of not less than 5 years immediately preceding today's date.
From the June 16 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends Saturday:
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In the wake of a $2 billion trading loss sustained by the bank JPMorgan Chase, many economists have advocated for the strengthening of financial reform to prevent against reckless behavior. Not Fox, however, which has argued that the problem is too much regulation of Wall Street banks.