Fox News continued to hype reports of an imminent Islamic State terrorist plot against U.S. and Parisian public transportation hours after the U.S. intelligence community discredited the rumor as "total bunk."
News broke on September 25 that Iraq Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi had informed reporters at the United Nations of "accurate reports from Baghdad" detailing a terrorist plot by the group calling themselves the Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) in advanced stages against subways in the U.S. and Paris, France.
The prime minister's remarks quickly spread across American media, but by early afternoon, U.S. intelligence officials had roundly discredited the rumor. As NBC News reported, "Virtually every major U.S. law enforcement agency and intelligence agency said they had no evidence of any such plot. The report is viewed as 'total bunk,' according to a senior intelligence official."
CNN's Chief National Security Correspondent Jim Sciutto tweeted:
Yet over an hour later, Fox News continued to hype fears over the discredited plot. On The Real Story, host Gretchen Carlson repeated the Iraqi prime minister's warning despite noting that an Obama administration official had not confirmed the report, cautioning, "Apparently the plot has not been thwarted."
Rather than acknowledging the fact that multiple U.S. intelligence agencies had discredited reports of the plot, Carlson simply said, "The other threat we heard about today from the Iraqi prime minister, which, by the way, the FBI says this administration doesn't know anything about it, but the word was that the attacks could be imminent on our subway systems here and in Paris."
Fox News' chief White House correspondent Ed Henry misrepresented comments by chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey to baselessly suggest the White House forced Dempsey to downplay the threat of the extremist group known as the Islamic State. In reality, the two statements from Dempsey that Henry referenced are not inconsistent in their evaluation of the Islamic State as a threat to the U.S., and the Defense Department had already denied the notion that it was directed to change its rhetoric.
Fox News figures have repeatedly claimed a surge of National Guard troops to the U.S. - Mexico border would stem the tide of people seeking refugee status in the United States, but National Guardsmen cannot apprehend people at the border or turn them away.
On the July 13 Fox News Sunday, Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) said he is requesting troops on the border because "what you have to have is this clear presence on the border, where people understand that you no longer can just freely go and walk across the Rio Grande and stay in America from now on." In response, guest host Brit Hume said to Perry, "I get that that's the message governor. What I don't quite understand is how it is with the law being the way it is, the presence of more troops or forces on the border who are not legally able to apprehend these immigrants, these border crossers, is going to change anything without the law being changed first."
Perry returned to his demand for an increased National Guard presence, arguing that "you bring boots on the ground to send that message clearly, both visually and otherwise."
Right-wing and even mainstream media have eagerly pushed the suggestion that the recent increase in unaccompanied minors crossing the U.S.-Mexico border is "Obama's Katrina" -- an inane comparison that repeatedly surfaces inside the conservative media echo chamber.
From the June 17 edition of Fox News' Special Report With Bret Baier:
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From the May 1 edition of Fox News' The Five:
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Fox News' White House correspondent Ed Henry held up Republican Sen. John McCain as a credible critic of President Obama's foreign policy toward Russia after the senator castigated the decision of several world powers to kick the nation out of the G8 -- but Henry neglected to inform viewers that McCain's position on the significance of such a move has shifted dramatically since 2008.
On the March 25 edition of The Real Story, Henry reported on criticisms from Republicans regarding the fact that the U.S. and other world powers kicked Russia out of the G8, a forum for the world's leading industrialized nations. Henry pointed to comments from McCain, who sarcastically dismissed the importance of the move, to cast President Obama as weak on Russia:
HENRY: You've got Republicans like John McCain saying today that basically look, if Russia's just a regional power, why does it appear that Vladimir Putin is holding the cards here, calling the shots if you will? Especially given the fact that there has been -- the only major action really by the President and European allies has been to kick Russia out of the G8. Here's John McCain today on Imus in the Morning on Fox Business:
MCCAIN: I'm sure that that has got to reduce Vladimir to tears, that he's not going to be able to be in the G8. Take over part of a country and you don't get to go to the next meeting in some wonderful European capitol.
Henry failed to point out McCain's contradictions in the past on revoking Russia's membership in the G8. When Russia invaded Georgia in 2008, McCain vacillated several times on the efficacy of kicking Russia out of the G8. In a March 28, 2008 speech, McCain advocated for Russia's exclusion from the G8:
We should start by ensuring that the G-8, the group of eight highly industrialized states, becomes again a club of leading market democracies: it should include Brazil and India but exclude Russia. Rather than tolerate Russia's nuclear blackmail or cyber attacks, Western nations should make clear that the solidarity of NATO, from the Baltic to the Black Sea, is indivisible and that the organization's doors remain open to all democracies committed to the defense of freedom.
MSNBC's Steve Benen pointed out McCain's inconsistency on the subject while writing for Washington Monthly, noting that McCain eventually decided excluding Russia would in fact be an effective method of improving the nation's behavior:
A few months later, the McCain campaign said the senator no longer believed what he said. A McCain adviser told McClatchy that the candidate's policy on Russia and the G-8 as "a holdover from an earlier period," adding, "It doesn't reflect where he is right now."
In July, however, McCain went back to the "earlier period," saying excluding Russia from the G8 would be "what's best for America" and might "improve" Russian behavior.
And more recently, McCain appeared on PBS's Charlie Rose to discuss the Ukraine situation on March 4, saying Russia should be thrown out of the G8 (emphasis added):
MCCAIN: I think, first, I would try the Magnitski which as you know targets individuals and their bank accounts and their ability to travel and all that. I would try that first. Then, obviously, I would look at other areas. You know, throw them out of the G-8, of course. It should be the G-7. A number of other cosmetic kind of don`t -- don`t go -- send our officials to the Paralympics.
But -- but we have to understand what this guy is all about. He`s an old KGB apparatchik. In 2008, the debate that I had with Barack Obama, I said at that time, watch Russia and watch Ukraine and unfortunately, these many years later, I was correct.
Right-wing media are dismissing President Obama's and Congressional Democrats' work on filibuster reform, a diplomatic agreement with Iran, and immigration reform as merely attempts to distract from the Affordable Care Act.
Right-wing media have seized on Senate Democrats' parliamentary change to eliminate filibusters for most presidential nominees to call for Republicans to block immigration reform or advance the notion that the change makes it less likely for Republicans to act on reform. In fact, Republicans repeatedly refused to act on immigration reform long before this change took place.
Fox News personalities claimed that a new rule change by Democrats in the Senate is hypocritical because both parties have obstructed when in the minority, ignoring the historically high level of GOP obstruction of President Obama's executive and judicial nominees.
On November 21, Democrats changed Senate rules so that "judicial and executive branch nominees no longer need to clear a 60-vote threshold to reach the Senate floor and get an up-or-down vote."
During a November 21 broadcast of Fox News' America's News HQ, co-host Alisyn Camerota asked Geraldo Rivera whether GOP gridlock was to blame for Democrats moving to change Senate rules. Rivera responded, "You know, I wish we could pull up some of the newscasts from eight years ago during the Bush Administration and you would hear the same thing. ... This is a game that they have played historically since the third president--since Thomas Jefferson":
During a press conference on the rule change, Fox White House Correspondent Ed Henry questioned Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest about whether Obama was being obstructionist because in 2005 he said he would block Bush nominees because he wanted Bush to fix guidelines on lead paint. Henry asked, "wasn't that obstruction?":
But Fox' false equivalency ignores the fact that recent GOP obstruction is unprecedented. Fox personalities ignored the GOP filibustering of Obama's judicial nominees who have been described as highly-qualified, non-controversial, and diverse.
The Washington Post's Greg Sargent explained that GOP obstruction was "the highest that's ever been recorded" during the last Congressional session. People For The American Way (PFAW) pointed out the "unprecedented" level of obstruction in a chart of cloture votes on executive nominees:
In fact, comparing Bush administration nominees to Obama's shows that the GOP is far more obstructionist today than Democrats were during the Bush presidency, with regard to the percentage of nominees confirmed and the amount of time nominees wait until confirmation vote. Right-Wing Watch, a project of PFAW, published several more charts illustrating these points:
Fox News' Ed Henry lied to defend the GOP's newest health care proposal, falsely claiming it would force federal employees to participate in exchanges the same way other consumers will.
On the October 15 edition of Fox's Your World, Henry -- Fox's chief White House correspondent -- reported that the latest House Republican bill to reopen the government included the Vitter amendment, a proposal by Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) that Henry claimed would make White House and congressional staff "live under ObamaCare and give up their generous subsidies that they already have." Henry went on to claim the amendment would make these federal employees "live under the exchanges like the rest of the country":
But Henry misrepresented what the Vitter amendment does. It doesn't force government employees to live under the exchanges like the rest of the country, it actually creates a special situation for those workers that would cause them to lose the employer contribution to their health plans that private sector employees enjoy, making their health plans significantly more expensive than the contribution from other exchange consumers. In a Politico op-ed, Robert Greenstein, president of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, explained that the Vitter amendment doesn't end special treatment for congressional employees, it creates a special circumstance:
Fox News figures are dismissing the voices of the families who suffered in a mass shooting in Newtown, CT by claiming they're being used and exploited by Democrats, discounting the efforts they have made to encourage Congress to pass stronger gun laws.
On April 11, the Senate overcame a Republican-led filibuster that tried to block the beginning of debate on stronger gun laws with a 68-31 vote. The impetus for the new gun proposals was driven by the December mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut that left 26 victims dead, most of them young children. President Obama had been urging Congress to act to strengthen guns laws in response to the shooting for some time.
According to several Fox News figures, Obama has been using the families of the Newtown shooting victims as props for a political agenda.
On April 11, Fox News host Sean Hannity called the effort to strengthen gun laws "naked exploitation of dead children and grieving families," while his guest Ann Coulter said that Democrats are "play[ing] with these victims." The previous night, Hannity stated that the president "is once again using families of tragedy as props for his agenda." Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade said on his April 11 radio show that Obama is "using the Newtown families to push for background checks." Fox News White House reporter Ed Henry similarly said on April 9 that "for the second straight day, the White House used the victims of the Newtown tragedy to make their case." On his April 9 radio show, Fox News host Mike Huckabee suggested that taking some of the relatives of the Newtown shooting victims to Washington, DC on Air Force One to make their case for stronger gun laws was "an exploitation of those parents."
Such an attitude does a disservice to the many Newtown families that want tougher gun laws in the wake of their tragedies. Several of the families appeared on CBS' 60 Minutes on April 7 to discuss what kind of gun violence prevention measures they would like to see signed into law, saying that universal background checks and a ban on high-capacity magazines were important. After the vote that broke the GOP's threatened filibuster, more than 30 families of Newtown victims released a statement criticizing those who tried block an up-or-down vote on new gun legislation, saying that "[t]he senators who have vowed to filibuster this bill should be ashamed of their attempt to silence efforts to prevent the next American tragedy."
Two reports on Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier hid Republican support for the across-the-board automatic spending cuts known as the sequester, reinforcing the right-wing narrative that President Obama is the one responsible for these cuts. In reality, a majority of Republicans in both the House and Senate voted for the bill that included the sequester.
Indeed, Republican leaders at the time touted the law as "a victory" and "a positive step forward" for reducing the deficit.
In a press release shortly after the Senate passed the Budget Control Act in August 2011, House Speaker John Boehner celebrated the law as "a positive step forward that begins to rein in federal spending" while House Majority Leader Eric Cantor touted the law as a "significant move" and said it "will finally begin to change the way Washington spends taxpayer dollars."
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan declared the law a "victory for those committed to controlling government spending and growing our economy."
But in recent weeks, Fox News and other right-wing media outlets have been aggressively pushing myths about the sequester, including that President Obama is single-handedly responsible for the looming spending cuts.
On Wednesday's edition of Special Report, Fox News' chief White House correspondent Ed Henry framed a report on the sequester around the narrative that it was an Obama initiative and quoted Republican Congressman Randy Forbes blaming Obama for it. Though the report included Democratic Sen. Max Baucus saying that Congress shares the blame for the automatic cuts, Henry did not point out that Republicans not only actively supported the idea but overwhelmingly voted for the law.
In a later segment during the same show, Fox again covered up Republican support for the sequester. Discussing the consequences of the spending cuts, chief political correspondent Carl Cameron said, "President Obama, who first proposed the sequester, and his party, are trying to blame the GOP for dire economic consequences, in particularly to the military. But in 2009 he proposed spending $14 billion less than what the military is currently budgeted for should sequester happen." Cameron did not mention the Republican support.
Fox News White House correspondent Ed Henry made a faulty comparison between Chicago and New York City in order to promote conservative opposition to President Obama's proposals to reduce gun violence. While previewing a speech to be delivered by Obama in Chicago, Henry misled by citing the larger number of crime guns seized this year in Chicago compared to New York City to give credence to "conservative critics" who say "gun control may not necessarily be the answer" to reducing gun violence.
HENRY: Now we've looked at the numbers, though, and more than 800 guns have been seized here in Chicago this year, that is nine times what's been seized in New York City and yet there's been 41 gun-related, shooting-related murders in the city. And that's leading conservative critics to say, well wait a second, gun control may not necessarily be the answer, there's a broader problem here.
New York City, the comparison point cited by Henry, has both strong gun laws and a gun homicide rate lower than the national average.*
Henry also ignored the large disparity between New York City and Chicago in terms of the number of illegal firearms annually trafficked into those cities.
Both Chicago and New York City have been effective in preventing a substantial number of firearms that originate in those cities from being used in crime. The city of Chicago does not have any gun stores, although numerous firearms stores operate in the suburbs. In New York City, more than 85 percent of firearms recovered at crime scenes originate from outside of New York state.
Instead, Chicago and New York City crime guns primarily originate from places with weaker gun laws including both intrastate jurisdictions with weaker gun laws and other states with lax gun regulation. New York City and Chicago, however, display significantly different firearms trafficking patterns. In 2011, the latest year of trace data released by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Tobacco (ATF), firearms recovered in crimes were trafficked into Chicago at a per capita rate over four and a half times higher than in New York. In New York City, which has a population of 8.2 million, there were 3,980 recoveries, whereas Chicago with a population of 2.7 million had 6,023 recoveries.
Fox News correspondent Ed Henry concealed the fact that the debt ceiling battle last July damaged the economy. Economic experts agree that the Republicans' brinkmanship during the previous fight over the debt ceiling cost the economy significantly and that another fight over the borrowing limit could be even more costly.
In a segment on the House of Representatives' vote to choose a Speaker of the House, Henry reported that the president signaled he would not debate the debt ceiling because "he believes a year and a half ago when they had that last debate about lifting the nation's debt ceiling it was detrimental to the economy." Although Henry presented this as Obama's opinion, the Government Accountability Office estimated that "delays in raising the debt limit in 2011 led to an increase in Treasury's borrowing costs of about $1.3 billion in fiscal year 2011."
Henry went on to report that Republicans including Senator Mitch McConnell felt the debt ceiling was one of the only mechanisms the Republicans had to force more spending cuts without noting the economic damage the last debt ceiling debate actually caused.
Following the last debt ceiling fight, the credit rating agency Standard & Poor's downgraded the U.S.'s credit rating and released a statement citing "political brinksmanship" and the threat of default as "political bargaining chips" among its reasons for the downgrade. The Bipartisan Policy Center estimated that "the ten-year cost to taxpayers caused by the delay in raising the debt limit will amount to $18.9 billion."
Moody's Analytics, another credit rating agency, warned last June that a downgrade was possible if the debt ceiling was not raised and Congress came close to default.
Not only was the previous debt ceiling fight costly and unnecessary, but economic experts say that a similar standoff would be even more costly. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities wrote that "the damage from the U.S. government defaulting on its obligations, even briefly, would be serious and lasting." The Washington Post's Ezra Klein warned that by holding up an increase in the debt ceiling to exact spending cuts, the GOP is threatening a "congressionally induced global financial crisis."
Henry's report failed to note any of the real damage to the economy caused by the last walk to the brink of default. Fox News loudly supported the previous GOP attempt to use the debt ceiling to reap spending cuts, encouraging a default if necessary.