When the Obama administration announced in February that it would require most employers to offer health insurance that covers contraception, right-wing media reacted with an uproar. Many conservative pundits distorted the ruling to claim that "American taxpayers" would be responsible for paying for all women's birth control. For instance, on his March 2 show, Bill O'Reilly said that "we know that we can get the birth control pills for free, because the government is going to send it to us, and that's just the way it is." Watch:
On the April 5 edition of Fox's flagship news show Special Report, correspondent Ed Henry used the same false talking point while reporting on an upcoming women's conference at the White House:
HENRY: [A]ides say Friday's conference will help showcase the president also has a strong wife and two daughters -- and a real record that includes signing pay equity legislation, a health care bill that will give over 20 million women preventive care like mammograms, plus a fight with the Catholic Church that highlighted his support for free contraception.
(UPDATE 3/2 5:18PM An Editor's Note now appended to the Politico story says it "mischaracterized the testimony of Energy Secreatry Steven Chu." The headline, lede, and body of the story have been corrected.)
A Politico story fueling misguided attacks on Energy Secretary Steven Chu is not borne out by what actually occurred. The article titled, "Chu: DOE working to wean U.S. off oil, not lower prices," claimed:
The Energy Department isn't working to lower gasoline prices directly, Secretary Steven Chu said Tuesday after a Republican lawmaker scolded him for his now-infamous 2008 comment that gas prices in the U.S. should be as high as in Europe.
But this report is based on an assumption made by Politico reporter Alex Guillen about how Rep. Alan Nunnelee (R-MS) was going to finish a question. If that wasn't bad enough, Politico doubled down with another article today about Newt Gingrich -- who cited Guillen's story -- calling for Chu to be fired for the remarks. (UPDATE 3/2 6:00PM Politico has also corrected this article.)
Here's what actually happened in the hearing (fuller video and transcript below):
REP. NUNNELEE: But is the overall goal to get our price--
CHU: No, the overall goal is to decrease our dependency on oil to -- to build and strengthen our economy and to decrease our dependency on oil.
But here's Politico's version of what happened:
"But is the overall goal to get our price" of gasoline down, asked Nunnelee.
"No, the overall goal is to decrease our dependency on oil, to build and strengthen our economy," Chu replied.
Guillen built his story on what he assumed Nunnelee was asking and gave no indication that the question was, in fact, ambiguous. There is good reason to believe that Chu thought Nunnelee was actually asking, "Is the overall goal to get our price up to European levels," since this was Nunnelee's previous question:
NUNNELEE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you, Secretary for being here. Before you were nominated, you were quoted as saying, quote, "Somehow, we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe." I can't look at motivations. I have to look at results. And under this administration, the price of gasoline is doubled. While bumping $4 a gallon in North Mississippi, today the price of gasoline in Europe is about $8 a gallon, and the people of North Mississippi can't be here.
So, I have to be here and be their voice for them. And I have to tell you that $8 a gallon gasoline makes them afraid. It's a cruel tax on the people of North Mississippi as they try to go back and forth to work. It's a cloud hanging over economic development and job creation, and it appears to me this administration continues to drag its feet on oil exploration on fossil fuel development and recovery. How do you respond to that?
For the press, it was too good to be true -- and it was. The news media was eating up anything it could find about Solyndra when Bloomberg ran a September 28 report headlined "Solyndra Plant Had Whistling Robots, Spa Showers" focused on the amenities of Solyndra's facility including "robots that whistled Disney tunes." Fifteen paragraphs in, Bloomberg eventually explained:
Robots that resembled "a big freezer with wheels" maneuvered around the factory transporting panels from one machine to another, said George Garma, 49, a former Solyndra equipment maintenance technician from Fremont. The Disney tunes alerted workers to the robots' presence.
Or, as Politifact recently reported, the "robots" were "automated guided vehicles" designed to transport materials -- a common technology used since the 1950's -- and the "whistling" was preloaded music played to alert workers that the vehicles were nearby for safety reasons. The automated vehicles were not lavish expenses, but standard technology that reduced labor costs. Music is used instead of beeping, which "can drive workers nuts -- and sometimes they tune it out, presenting a safety hazard," according to Politifact.
But Greenwire and CNN's American Morning didn't see fit to explain any of that. Neither, of course, did Fox News in its coverage of the "singing robots" on Your World, On The Record, and Special Report. Andrew Napolitano declared on his Fox Business show that Solyndra executives "entertain themselves with robots whistling Disney tunes in the hallways." I could be entertained by this for hours:
From the October 13 edition of Fox News' America Live:
Loading the player reg...
From the September 19 edition of Fox News' Studio B with Shepard Smith:
Loading the player reg...
After Fox News aired a doctored version of Teamsters president James Hoffa's Labor Day speech, the right-wing media pointed to the clearly edited video to accuse Hoffa of encouraging violence against conservatives. In fact, unaltered video -- video aired by Fox hours after the clearly edited version had been heavily promoted throughout the conservative media -- shows that Hoffa was encouraging the crowd to vote against Republicans in the 2012 election.
Led by journalists at Fox News, media figures have mocked the Obama administration for using the phrase "federal family" to refer to federal agencies involved in Hurricane Irene relief efforts, suggesting that the administration invented the phrase as a "euphemism" for "federal government." However, "federal family" is not a new phrase; it dates back to at least George H.W. Bush's administration and was regularly used by members of George W. Bush's administration when discussing disaster relief.
Fox News has repeatedly played up the national debt as the "number one issue" facing the country, despite statements from economists that unemployment is a more pressing problem. Now, in the aftermath of a default crisis that was manufactured by conservatives, Fox is criticizing Obama for "pivoting" back to jobs, suggesting that he has not been sufficiently focused on the issue in the past.
Ed Henry is reportedly moving from CNN to Fox News to become the network's Chief White House correspondent. When asked by Media Matters, Henry declined to comment on Bill Sammon, Fox News' Washington managing editor.
Last year, CNN came under criticism for hiring conservative blogger Erick Erickson, who described Michelle Obama as a "Marxist harpy wife" and Supreme Court justice David Souter a "goat fucking child molester." Henry defended the hiring, writing on his Twitter account:
For those Tweeting CNN shouldn't have hired @ewerickson as a contributor, seriously do you think a network should NOT have diverse voices?
CNN reporter Ed Henry, a board member of the correspondents group, said he backs Fox. "When CNN bid for the front row in 2007, Fox could have challenged it and had a knock-down, drag-out fight like the one we might have this time. But they did the gentlemanly thing and said CNN had more seniority. I've got to honor that commitment."
In 2005, Henry described a Democratic proposal for withdrawal from Iraq as what "some have referred to" as "the cut-and-run provision," a phrase that echoed a Republican talking point about the conflict.
Henry falsely claimed in 2006 that Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND) had received campaign contributions from convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff and his wife.
Henry was one of the attendees at a much-criticized beach party held by the White House for members of the press. He defended himself against criticisms of a conflict of interest, saying his critics didn't have a sense of humor.
From the January 2 edition of CNN's State of the Union:
Loading the player reg...
From the November 5 edition of CNN's Anderson Cooper 360:
Loading the player reg...
Despite passage of health care reform bills in House and Senate committees and the endorsement by major medical organizations of congressional Democrats' reform efforts, numerous television pundits have suggested that President Obama's health care plan is in serious jeopardy.
Yes, as Politico's Michael Calderone points out, Huffington Post is asking readers to vote for their favorite White House correspondent:
Current nominees: Chuck Todd, Savannah Guthrie, John Yang, Suzanne Malveaux, Ed Henry, Bill Plante, Jake Tapper, Major Garrett and Wendell Goler.
Henry would like your vote. But some think there are some notable exemptions: Former White House press office staffer Pete Seat wants Chip Reid and Washington Times White House correspondent Christina Bellantoni thinks Mark Knoller was robbed.
Mere hours after the Gridiron Dinner -- an annual gathering of the political press in which everyone soberly bonds over their concern for the state of the world and offers the plucky and trembling Ed Henry advice on being a newsman -- President Barack Obama appeared on 60 Minutes for an interview with Steve Kroft, and while the session, to the untrained eye, might have looked like a ranging and substantive interview, media figures with more discernment and savvy saw it for what it was: Obama laughing at the hardships of America, forever and ever.
And so, as the keepers of the public trust, they grimly went to work, warning America about Obama's reckless demonstration of "emotion" and "brief levity" and "humor," because HOW DARE HE. What sort of rat bastard President would force the cast of MSNBC's commedia dell'arte show Morning Joe suspend their pleasing lazzi, about sex toys -- the important issues of the day -- to discuss his loathesome laughter! In this new video by Media Matters, you can see just how this important topic was relentlessly pursued, like the icy grip of death.
On CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight, Ed Henry falsely suggested that President Obama's proposals to allow the Bush tax cuts to expire and to increase the capital gains tax rate would affect taxpayers in all income brackets. In fact, Obama has proposed allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire -- and increasing the capital gains tax rate -- only for individuals earning more than $200,000 in income and for joint filers earning more than $250,000 per year.