Led by Sean Hannity, Fox News has devoted 4 hours and 40 minutes of its prime-time programming to cheerleading for a Nevada range war.
Media Matters examined Fox News' weekday programming from 4 p.m. through 11 p.m. ET since it first started covering the story.
Fox News began agitating for a range war on April 9, sympathetically portraying Cliven Bundy as a folk hero based on the Nevada rancher's refusal for two decades to pay the required fees for grazing his cattle on public land. While Nevada reporters have made clear that Bundy is "clearly wrong" and "breaking the law," Fox has waged a PR campaign romanticizing Bundy and the armed militia groups that fled to his ranch and forced a standoff with federal agents who were executing a court order that allowed them to impound his cattle.
Fox Radio hostTodd Starnes fanned the flames by implying that federal agents could be "strung up" for confiscating Bundy's cattle, regardless of a court order. Even after the Bureau of Land Management announced that it would return the cattle to Bundy, Hannity asked Bundy whether he was worried that government agents might kill him.
Hannity has effectively turned his Fox News show into a public-relations firm for Bundy and the militias backing him, dedicating more than 1 1/2 hours of coverage since April 9 to effectively agitating for armed conflict with the federal government.
Media Matters conducted a Nexis search of transcripts of Fox News programs from April 5th to April 17th. We identified and reviewed all segments that included any of the following keywords: Bundy, Nevada, ranch!, cattle, Bureau of Land Management. The search included the Fox programs The Five, Special Report, On the Record with Greta van Susteren, The O'Reilly Factor, The Kelly File, and Hannity.
Ostensibly aiming to mock the safety provided by gun-free zones, Fox host Eric Bolling wound up doing just the opposite.
Bolling has been a vocal critic of gun-free zones, frequently promoting the right-wing misnomer that mass shooters target places like schools where guns are banned. According to Bolling's logic, gun-free zones are "easy targets for whackos," so "it's time to take those gun-free zones signs down." He's argued that mass shootings "would happen with far less frequency" if no such gun bans existed.
He seemingly attempted to make a similar point on the April 16 edition of The Five, after a panel discussion roundly criticized former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg for his pledge to donate $50 million to his new gun safety advocacy group. Bolling remarked, "Can I add one of those little sayings? You never hear about a mass shooting at a gun show."
Of course, loaded firearms are prohibited at nearly all gun shows, which essentially makes them gun-free zones. The reason? Safety. As Crossroads of the West Gun Shows explained: (emphasis added)
Q: Can I bring a gun to the show to sell or trade?
A: Yes, and many folks do. Please be sure the gun is unloaded before you enter the building, and take it to our gun check table at the show entry for verification. They will clear it and secure it with a nylon tie to disable the action. No loaded firearms and no loaded magazines are permitted in any Crossroads gun show. Your personal safety is our number one priority while you are at the show.
This prohibition on loaded weapons matches that of other gun shows around the country. In fact, in a recent analysis, Think Progress was unable to identify a single gun show that allowed patrons to carry loaded weapons on the premises, including those with concealed-carry permits.
When shootings do occasionally occur at gun shows, it's been because people don't follow these rules and bring in loaded weapons. As CNN reported in the case of an accidental shooting at a gun show last year, "The original owner of the Taurus semi-automatic 9 mm handgun used in the shooting brought the firearm into the show fully loaded. This is despite the policy of searches to make sure all guns are not loaded and rendered safe before others can handle them."
Studies show that most mass shootings in recent years have occurred in places where guns were allowed, and experts say that gun-free zones do not encourage mass shootings. It seems Bolling has finally agreed, albeit inadvertently.
From the April 15 edition of Fox News' The Five:
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Fox News promoted predictions of "an impending ice age" from David Archibald, an oil and mining CEO who has said that he wants to be in DeSmogBlog's "Global Warming Disinformation Database." So far, Archibald has not won that dubious distinction -- but if he did, it would look something like this:
Archibald started working in coal and oil shale exploration in 1979, then went on to become a financial analyst and stockbroker before returning to oil companies in the 2000s. In 2003 he led an oil exploration company called Oilex, then joined a Canadian oil exploration company in 2006 at the same time he was CEO of mineral exploration company Westgold Resources. As of 2008, he was operating 8.6 million acres of oil exploration permits in Australia as of 2008. In a phone call with Media Matters, Archibald stated that he currently runs his own company in the oil industry.
When called out for having ties to the coal industry in 2008, Archibald responded that his most recent ties were actually to the oil industry:
You know you are being effective when people complain about you. The letter in the Sept. 8 issue of Oil & Gas Journal, though, followed an established formula, starting with an impugned association with the coal industry (OGJ, Sept. 8, 2008, p. 12).
A point by point refutation would be tedious, but I am compelled to say that neither I nor the Lavoisier Society has any association with or funding from the coal industry. I left the coal industry in 1980 to join the oil industry. Right now I am the very happy operator of oil exploration permits totaling 8.6 million acres of Palaeozoic intracratonic rift sediments in the Canning basin of northwestern Australia.
From an interview with regular Fox News guest Michelle Fields for the right-wing website PJ Media:
FIELDS: Is global warming a real thing?
ARCHIBALD: Not at all.
FIELDS: But global cooling is, then?
ARCHIBALD: There's nothing you can do and it's a natural solar cycle.
April 14, 2014
David Archibald was interviewed on Fox News' Fox & Friends by Fox host Eric Bolling to promote his new book and advance his claim of "global cooling." Bolling omitted Archibald's ties to the fossil fuel industry, and introduced the segment by saying, "remember that harsh, cold winter? Well it could become the norm. Our next guest says the earth is heading into another ice age":
From the April 11 edition of Fox News' The Five:
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The Department of Energy's clean energy loan program helped fuel the achievements of electric car company Tesla Motors, yet the major broadcast, cable and print media only mentioned the loan in 20 percent of their coverage of Tesla in 2013 (and in only 7 percent of coverage of Nissan's best-selling electric car, the Leaf). Meanwhile, 84 percent of coverage of Fisker, an electric car company that declared bankruptcy, mentioned its federal loan. This skewed coverage may have misinformed the public about the overwhelmingly positive success rate of the program.
A new report from the Union of Concerned Scientists analyzed major cable network coverage of climate change in 2013, and found that CNN covered the topic even less than Fox News, and that both featured a significant amount of misleading coverage that "weaken[s] the public's ability to understand and grapple with the risks of climate change."
The latest media analysis from the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) found (perhaps unsurprisingly) that Fox News misinformed their audience a great majority of the time when discussing climate change. Meanwhile, CNN devoted a paltry amount of airtime to global warming in 2013, and when they did cover the topic, the network frequently presented the science demonstrating global warming as an issue up for debate by pundits. Here are some of UCS' most significant findings:
UCS found that even though Fox News overwhelmingly misled their audience on climate science, the network still covered the topic more than CNN in 2013. On the primetime weekday shows and weekend morning programs that UCS examined, CNN aired 43 segments on climate change, Fox News aired 50 segments, and MSNBC towered over the two with 133 segments -- more coverage than the CNN and Fox combined:
According to UCS' analysis, MSNBC's coverage was 92 percent accurate; the analysis labeled 8 percent of MSNBC's coverage "inaccurate," saying these segments overstated the connection between certain extreme weather events and manmade global warming or the severity of sea level rise.
While defending the Supreme Court's decision to undo decades of precedent and policy in campaign finance law, hosts of Fox News' The Five falsely suggested that unions can donate unlimited amounts of money to political candidates. In fact, unions are barred from directly donating to candidates and political parties.
In its April 2 decision on McCutcheon v. FEC, the Supreme Court decided that overall campaign contribution limits, previously set at $123,200 per individual per two-year election cycle, were unconstitutional. This allows future contributions to be spread among an unlimited number of political candidates, political parties, and PACs.
On April 4, as The Five co-host Bob Beckel criticized the decision and explained that these contribution limits were passed into law following the Watergate scandal, his fellow hosts Dana Perino and Eric Bolling claimed that unions face no limits on contributions, while there were limits on individuals.
But Perino and Bolling are incorrect. While unions, as well as corporations, can as of the 2010 Citizens United decision spend unlimited amounts on elections, they are still barred from direct contributions to candidates or political parties -- which is what the McCutcheon case was about. As USA Today explained:
It's the most important campaign-finance ruling since the high court's 2010 Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ruling allowed corporations and unions to spend unlimited amounts independently to influence elections.
The limits on campaign contributions had stood for nearly 40 years. The high court drew a distinction between those contributions, which it said could lead to corruption, and money spent independently in its landmark 1976 Buckley v. Valeo ruling. Independent spending was expanded in the Citizens United case to include unlimited spending by corporations and labor unions.
Independent expenditures, which unions are allowed to make, are not the same as direct contributions to political candidates and political parties. A guide to federal election rules from The Campaign Legal Center states: "Corporations and labor unions are prohibited from using treasury funds to make a contribution to candidates, political parties, and many types of PACs."
Climate "skeptics" have latched on to a myth that scientists predicted global cooling in the 1970s. However, as even a Fox News anchor pointed out in 2006, there was never a consensus on cooling in the 1970s the same way there currently is on global warming -- in fact, the majority of the scientific literature at the time was predicting warming. Yet that hasn't stopped Fox from regurgitating this myth ad nauseum:
While some on Fox News have claimed that "global cooling was the consensus" in the 1970s to dismiss the current climate science consensus in its entirety, a realistic examination of the scientific literature shows the opposite is true. In 2006, the American Meteorological Society (AMS) took a look at published papers from the 1970s and found that a consensus around global warming -- not cooling -- was beginning to emerge. Of 71 peer reviewed studies on climate change from 1965 to 1979, only seven articles predicted global cooling -- less than ten percent -- while well over half (44 studies) predicted global warming. Even 40 years ago, predictions of global cooling were only on the fringe of climate science.
There were indeed a couple of magazine articles published in that era that overhyped theories of "global cooling," but they were cherry-picking the science. For instance, Newsweek ran a nine-paragraph, back-page article titled "The Cooling World" in 1975 and Time magazine ran an article titled "Another Ice Age?" in 1974. Despite these magazine articles' infamy among climate "skeptics," they never made the cover as Fox News or internet hoaxes would have you believe.
If there was a global cooling "scare," it was more of a media wrongdoing than a failure of scientists.
Time's Bryan Walsh accurately summarized the situation:
The reality is that scientists in the 1970s were just beginning to understand how climate change and aerosol pollution might impact global temperatures. Add in the media-hype cycle -- which was true then as it is now -- and you have some coverage that turned out to be wrong. But thanks to the Internet, those stories stay undead, recycled by notorious climate skeptics like George Will. Pay no attention to the Photoshop. It's the science we should heed -- and the science says man-made climate change is real and very, very worrying.
The video in this report was created by Coleman Lowndes and John Kerr with voiceover by Todd Gregory.
Fox News' Eric Bolling falsely claimed that the success of Tesla was an anomaly among Energy Department loans and that most loans were a failure.
Bolling appeared on the April 1 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor to debate host Bill O'Reilly's claim that Tesla and other electric cars would be beneficial to the environment and American economy. During the segment, Bolling attacked the Department of Energy program that provided a loan to Tesla, claiming that, although Tesla repaid the money, most loans given out by the program were failures, invoking the solar energy company Solyndra as an example:
While Bolling and other members of the right-wing media have repeatedly claimed that the DOE's Loan Guarantee Program is a failure, the truth is exactly the opposite. In congressional testimony, Jonathan Silver, the former executive director of the DOE's loan program, explained the success of the program:
While not every investment will succeed, the portfolio is in good shape. The funds represented by investments that have failed represent less than 3% of the total portfolio. This is a record the private sector would consider remarkable, but is particularly impressive for a portfolio of technologically innovative projects being built at a commercial scale for the first time anywhere.
A recent article from the National Journal quoted Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz discussing the successes of the loan guarantee program, noting that the overall loan portfolio is performing well and "has been a major success" at advancing technology:
He noted that in the main, the $30 billion loan portfolio--which includes a number of green power-generation projects and loans to automakers for green-car development--is performing well.
"Any rational view of that portfolio is that it has been a major success in doing exactly what it ... is designed to do in terms of first-movers of technologies at commercial scale," Moniz said.
Fox co-host Eric Bolling invented a revisionist history of the General Motors bailout in order to baselessly accuse the Obama administration of conspiring to cover up a potentially fatal defect in some GM vehicles.
On the April 1 edition of Fox's The Five, Bolling attempted to link a defect in an ignition switch -- which has been blamed for several deaths and resulted in millions of GM vehicles being recalled earlier this year -- to the Obama administration, claiming that the administration "bankrupted" GM in 2009 in order to shift responsibility for the defect away from a new, restructured GM:
BOLLING: Bob, let me be the skeptic here, all right? So around 2008, 2009, when they bankrupted GM, no one could figure out why they would do that --
BOB BECKEL (co-host): They bankrupted GM?
BOLLING: Yeah. The Obama administration bankrupted GM and recapitalized them and recapitalized certain investments. No one could figure out why. I'll be the skeptic here, I'll be the cynic here, I'll be conspiratorial. Maybe they bankrupted them to make sure that the old GM was responsible for these deaths because they knew they had a problem and the new GM could go on with business as usual and then they would look like heroes.
Bolling offered no evidence to back up his "conspiratorial" claim, which ignores the billions of dollars GM lost before the bankruptcy filing and President George W. Bush's role in setting up a bailout for the company in 2008.
According to a timeline compiled by NPR, some GM employees were aware of a problem with the ignition switch as early as 2001, eight years before the federal government took an ownership stake in the company. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) investigated complaints about a related issue with air bags in the vehicles in 2007 but ended it without taking action. The NHTSA recommended another investigation in 2010, but it too was dropped after no correlation between air bag issues and fatalities was found.
Despite Bolling's conspiracy theory, there is simply no evidence to prove that Obama administration officials knew of the severity of the defect at the time or that they actively conspired to hide the issue during GM's bankruptcy.
On the final day of open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act, right-wing media have resorted to echoing Republicans and accusing the White House of "cooking the books" on the latest enrollment figures.
From the March 27 edition of Fox News' The Five:
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From the March 22 edition of Fox News' Cashin' In:
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Right-wing media personalities continued their tradition of attacking President Obama for filling out NCAA college basketball brackets, this time attacking Obama for filling it out while Russia annexed Crimea.