Fox News is moving the goalposts on how President Obama should respond to terrorist attacks, complaining that the White House's statement on a deadly attack on a Pakistani school did not mention "the Taliban." The network had previously attacked Obama for not using the words "terrorist" and "terrorism," two words that appear in the president's statement.
On the December 17 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, correspondent Ainsley Earhardt reported on the global reaction to a deadly attack on a school in Peshawar, Pakistan carried out by members of the terrorist group Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan. Earhardt highlighted that the president's statement did not mention the Taliban:
EARHARDT: Brand new information about one of the worst terrorist attacks in Pakistan's history: Pakistani Taliban insurgents storming an army school in Peshawar, killing more than 140 people, most of those young school children. Leaders across the globe condemning those brutal attacks, but the White House not mentioning the Taliban, at all. President Obama's statement reads this, quote "by targeting students and teachers in this heinous attack, terrorists have once against shown their depravity."
Similarly, on-screen text during the December 17 edition of Fox & Friends First declared Obama's response was "Not A Full Statement" because the president did not mention the Taliban:
Fox News obscured the fact that Republican lawmakers are holding renewal of a terrorism insurance program hostage in order to continue chipping away at financial regulatory reform.
The Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA), first passed after 9/11 and subsequently renewed by Congress, allows the federal government to aid insurance companies in providing terrorism insurance to businesses. One of the biggest beneficiaries of TRIA are professional sports organizations like the NFL.
If TRIA is not renewed, these organizations could lose terrorism insurance coverage. Thus on the December 15 edition of Fox & Friends First, Fox Business contributor Lauren Simonetti claimed that the Super Bowl may be in danger of cancelation. According to Simonetti, "The reason is Congress," adding "unless this act is reauthorized by the end of the year," the Super Bowl could be canceled:
Conservative media are calling the Environmental Protection Agency's clarification of the Clean Water Act an "unprecedented land grab" that will regulate "nearly every drop of water." However, the proposed revision, which will help protect the drinking water of 117 million Americans, will not add any new categories of waters but will clarify that upstream sources will be protected from pollution.
As the United States Senate voted on a bill that would increase the federal minimum wage, Fox News dedicated 15 times more coverage to the latest "developments" in its on-going campaign to create a political scandal from the September 11, 2012 terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya.
Fox News attacked immigrant students who are set to become eligible for in-state college tuition in Virginia under existing state law, and misleadingly attacked the decision as providing an "illegal education."
On April 29, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring announced that the state's existing law defining residents eligible for in-state tuition does not exclude students approved under the U.S. Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Virginia can now join 17 other states in providing in-state tuition rates for previously undocumented students at the commonwealth's public colleges and universities who are now lawfully present under DACA. During the April 30 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Heather Nauert claimed the Virginia decision was due to "the Dream Act, which was created by the Obama administration," and falsely disparaged the students as "illegals":
On Fox & Friends First, an on-screen graphic labeled the decision "illegal education":
Fox's misleading report on this law confused the Dream Act, a bill that would provide an eventual path to permanent residency and citizenship to eligible undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children, with DACA, an executive action signed by President Obama which allows some of those children to apply for legal living and working status on a temporary basis. As Fox's sister organization, Fox News Latino, explained, it is DACA, not the Dream Act, which led to the judgment of Virginia's attorney general that these students are legally eligible to receive the tuition:
In 2012, Obama created a special immigration status, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), for immigrants between the ages of 15 and 32 who came to the U.S. before they turned 16. That status allows them to remain if they have graduated from high school or are enrolled as students and meet other conditions.
Herring said the new category amounts to lawful immigration status for those who hold it, and he is therefore empowered to implement the change. Herring's office estimated that 8,100 Virginia residents have obtained lawful status under the 2012 program and are now eligible for in-state tuition.
Fox's own Chris Wallace noted the popularity of providing more affordable tuition to undocumented students last month when he favorably highlighted a privately run program that provides aid to these students. Wallace praised the program as "a program supported by everyone from Grover Norquist to Mark Zuckerberg."
Fox News' incessant promotion of Cliven Bundy abruptly ended after the Nevada rancher's racist rant was published in The New York Times.
Bundy's public feud with the Bureau of Land Management over his refusal to pay grazing fees received extensive support from Fox News, which devoted nearly five hours of primetime coverage to the story, including numerous interviews with Bundy and his family. Sean Hannity provided him so much positive coverage, Bundy praised the Fox News host as a "hero."
That praise fell silent after Bundy used one of his daily press conferences to engage in an overtly racist tirade, claiming black people "abort their young children, they put their young men in jail, because they never learned how to pick cotton" and suggesting that they were better off under slavery. The day after Bundy's rant was published in The New York Times, Fox News' coverage of Bundy ended rapidly.
By noon on April 24, Fox had mentioned the rancher only twice, and never covered his racist comments. On Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy drew a parallel between Bundy's standoff and the situation of two Texas landowners, and Fox's Andrew Napolitano told viewers to "forget the battle in Nevada" to focus on events in Texas instead.
While Fox News did not cover Bundy's comments, Fox host Greta van Susteren spoke out on her blog, highlighting the Times' article and noting "Let me make this plain: I condemn what Cliven Bundy said about African Americans."
UPDATED: Here's the video of Bundy's racist rant:
Fox News promoted what they called a "blistering report" on Benghazi released by the Citizens' Committee on Benghazi, a group comprised of birthers, conspiracy theorists, and fringe right-wing activists.
On the same day Fox announced Katie Pavlich's role in a new show on the network, Pavlich created a false narrative that former IRS official Lois Lerner reached out to the Department of Justice about possible criminal prosecutions for tax-exempt groups. Fox went on to promote the story in several segments and continued to push it even after Pavlich corrected her initial report.
On April 16, Fox News announced it would launch a new show called Outnumbered to air on weekdays at noon. Fox contributor Katie Pavlich will be part of a rotating group of panelists on the show. The same day, Pavlich wrote on TownHall.com that new emails released under the Freedom of Information Act show that Lerner reached out to officials at the Department of Justice (DOJ) to discuss the possibility of criminal prosecutions for tax-exempt groups who lied about political activity on their filings. Gretchen Carlson pushed the report on The Real Story, repeating the claim that Lerner contacted officials at the DOJ to ask about criminally prosecuting the groups.
But Pavlich's claim that Lerner contacted DOJ officials first is false -- the emails show that in fact the DOJ reached out to Lerner first with a phone call. Pavlich updated and corrected her post to reflect that fact:
Editors note/correction: A previous version of this post stated and implied Lois Lerner contacted the DOJ about criminal prosecution when the emails state she in fact got a phone call from DOJ about the issue. While she was clearly in contact with DOJ about criminal prosecution for tax exempt groups, DOJ initiated the contact in this specific instance. Emails also show Lerner and Flax responded to both recommendations by Senator Whitehouse and DOJ to look into criminal prosecution. The headline to this post has also been updated.
In the five years since President Obama's health care reform plan -- which became the Affordable Care Act (ACA) -- was first introduced, the right-wing media has waged a continuous campaign to attack the law through misinformation, deception, and outright lies.
Fox News used a misleading report from the anti-immigration Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) to accuse the Obama administration of "destabilizing the nation" by releasing undocumented immigrants with criminal backgrounds. In fact, data show that the Obama administration has met its enforcement mandate to prioritize the deportation of immigrants with criminal convictions, which has resulted in a substantial increase of such deportations.
Fox News and other conservative media are calling a new proposal to protect waterways "one of the biggest land grabs" ever that will give a government agency "control of all private property." The rule, which could help protect the drinking water of 117 million Americans, would only resolve which bodies of water are protected from pollution under the current jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act.
On March 25, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a draft proposal to clarify which bodies of water are under the protection of the Clean Water Act (CWA), to "increase CWA program predictability and consistency." The new rule, proposed jointly with the Army Corps of Engineers, follows research showing that streams, wetlands, and other relatively small bodies of water "are connected to and have important effects on downstream waters," so they necessitate protection from pollution under the Act as it stands today.
Conservative media, claiming that the EPA is overextending its reach, are forecasting drastic consequences that simply aren't true. Examiner.com accused the government agency of "veritable land theft" by "expanding government control," and predicted that "it won't be far for the EPA to declare control over any land that gets wet or is rained upon." Breitbart called it "one of the biggest land grabs by the federal government ever perpetrated on the American public." And on the March 26 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends First, co-host Heather Childers introduced the rule by saying "It's not your land -- The EPA's latest move that gives them control of all private property." Childers went on to assert that the clarification "could be one of the biggest private property grabs in history, according to Republicans. The EPA wants control of all bodies of water, no matter how small, even if they're on private property."
A House committee report released Tuesday refuted claims that any stand-down order was given to prevent military support from reaching Benghazi, dismantling a central story in right-wing media mythology of a Benghazi cover-up.
The House Armed Services Committee report, released February 11, concluded that "There was no 'stand down' order issued to U.S. military personnel in Tripoli who sought to join the fight in Benghazi." As The Washington Post explained, the report further determined that "no U.S. military assets could have arrived in Benghazi in time to affect the outcome of the attack, according to committee staff members who briefed reporters on the report."
The determination devastates one of right-wing media's favorite Benghazi hoaxes.
Fox News has persistently pushed the myth that the administration withheld military assistance during the Benghazi attack by issuing a "stand down order" to backup forces in Tripoli -- by June 2013, the network had repeated the charge at least 85 times in primetime segments. The accusations were vitriolic: In October 2012, Fox legal analyst Peter Johnson, Jr. asked if there was a "political calculation that was made to sacrifice Americans on the ground so we didn't kill innocents in front of the consulate," while the network's national security analyst, K.T. McFarland, claimed the supposed absence of aid to the consulate was "probably" politically motivated. Fox host Kimberly Guilfoyle claimed that the administration had decided that Americans targeted in Benghazi "were expendable." And the allegations didn't stop there.
The House report is not the first investigation and testimony to debunk the claim that a "stand down" order was issued. A January 2014 Senate Committee on Intelligence review of the Benghazi attacks determined there was no evidence that any "stand down" order was given to responding units during the attack. Tripoli security team leader LTC. S.E. Gibson soundly debunked the notion that a "stand down" order was given in testimony from a declassified June 26, 2013, House Armed Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigation, stating: "Madam Chairman, I was not ordered to stand down." The CIA has repeatedly denied that any "stand down" orders had been given, and noted that reinforcements actually arrived from Tripoli in time for the second attack on the CIA facility.
Yet just as the network often ignored previous determinations that debunked the "stand down" order myth, Fox's coverage on the House report thus far has either ignored or dismissed this newest evidence of the collapse of its "stand down" narrative. A Fox & Friends First headline segment that focused on the report ignored the "stand down" finding entirely, instead claiming that "the report also found U.S. military forces were left vulnerable at the time of the attack.
Fox News highlighted a Republican senator's dismissal of a deal with Iran that stalls the country's nuclear enrichment capabilities to frame the agreement as nothing but a distraction from problems with the Affordable Care Act.
As The Washington Post reported, Iran and six major countries reached a "historic deal that freezes key parts of Iran's nuclear program in exchange for temporary relief on some economic sanctions." Conservative media have already compared the negotiations with Iran to British appeasement of Nazi aggression in the 1930s. Now, after Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) tweeted in reaction to the deal's announcement "[a]mazing what WH will do to distract attention from O-care," Fox News is promoting Cornyn's take.
On Fox News' Fox & Friends First, co-host Heather Childers said "the nuke deal has dominated political talk, which means focus has shifted away from Obamacare. This now sparking many to believe that it is yet another attempt to distract from the disastrous rollout and the looming deadline to get the site up and running at full speed." Reporter Peter Doocy highlighted Cornyn's tweet, saying he "looks at the whole announcement very suspiciously."
Later on Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy also parroted the argument during an interview with White House deputy national security advisor Tony Blinken, saying that "some" were critical of the proposal and had suggested that the White House was "trying to change the subject," and shift the conversation away from health care. From Fox & Friends (emphasis added):
DOOCY: Right, Tony, some people are skeptical, a little critical. They're going, why now? Oh, maybe because so they're trying to change the subject, Obamacare not working out. President's approval at 38 percent. What do you say?
BLINKEN: Well, I don't do health care, but I think we can probably figure out a way to insure tens of millions of Americans and prevent Iran from getting the bomb at the same time. The fact of the matter is, this was growing urgent. Iran was advancing down all three lines of activity. We wanted to stop that. We wanted to stop the program, and we wanted to see if we could get a comprehensive deal that resolves this once and for all. That's exactly what we now have the opportunity to do.
Such a claim ignores the facts behind the deal. As the Los Angeles Times reported, Obama promised years ago to engage with Iran about its nuclear program, and months of meetings were conducted to pave the way for the deal, beginning in March -- well before HealthCare.gov launched on October 1. And the deal with Iran is not the first action by the administration or Congress that Fox has called a distraction from Obamacare.
Fox News baselessly claimed that newly-released photographs of the aftermath of the Benghazi attacks reveal a "level of devastation" which contradicts the Obama administration's "original story of what happened" -- without explaining how the photos provided new insight or how they contradicted the administration's position on the destruction of the attacks.
On the November 20 edition of Fox & Friends First, co-host Ainsley Earhardt highlighted photos of the U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya, following the September 11, 2012 attacks which were recently obtained by the conservative group Judicial Watch. The photos depict a car on fire, burnt furniture, and graffiti on the walls of the compound, and Earhardt claimed they revealed "a new level of devastation, contradicting the Obama administration's original story of what happened":
EARHARDT: New images of the aftermath of last year's September 11th terrorist attacks on U.S. compounds in Benghazi, Libya. The new pictures show a new level of devastation, contradicting the Obama administration's original story of what happened. The State Department gave 30 pages of records and 14 pictures to the conservative group Judicial Watch. That group is suing after requesting public materials through the Freedom of Information Act and not receiving them.
Earhardt did not explain how the photos contradicted anything the Obama administration had previously said about the attack, nor did she provide any evidence that administration officials previously downplayed or diminished the damage in Benghazi.
Her attack on the administration did, however, mirror comments made by Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton, who claimed the "photos reveal a level of total devastation thoroughly belying Obama's original cover story that the carnage was perpetrated by a bunch of random malcontents upset over an unpleasant video."
But as Media Matters has repeatedly documented, there was no cover story -- Then-U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice made clear during her initial comments on the attack that they were based on the administration's "current best assessment" of the situation, which was that the attacks were not premeditated. She acknowledged that the perpetrators were "extremists" and said that future investigations and analyses by intelligence services "will tell us with certainty what transpired." It would later be revealed that her suggestion that the attack was linked to an anti-Islam video that had embroiled the Middle East came from talking points generated by the CIA.
Furthermore, the photos released by Judicial Watch and billed as groundbreaking are actually similar to pictures which have been available online since the day after the attacks. On September 12, 2012, Buzzfeed posted photos showing the destruction at the compound, including a burnt car, graffiti, and broken windows. The next day, Daily Mail Online posted more photos of the burnt interiors of the compound.
For more on conservative media myths about the September 2012 attacks, read The Benghazi Hoax, the new e-book by Media Matters' David Brock and Ari Rabin-Havt.
Fox News highlighted a new law in Washington, D.C., that will allow the city's undocumented residents to obtain limited driver's licenses, airing segments that were laden with anti-immigrant language but little other information. The context missing from the Fox broadcasts is that nearly half of the country has enacted or is thinking of enacting similar laws, which law enforcement officials argue promote road safety and offer other benefits.
On November 18, Mayor Vincent Gray signed the measure passed by the D.C. Council, which will go into effect in May 2014. As The Washington Post reported, the licenses will be stamped as "not valid for official federal purposes," meaning undocumented immigrants will not be able to use them for federal identification purposes like entering federal buildings or for boarding planes.
In two segments on the law, Fox & Friends First co-host Heather Childers used inflammatory language to refer to undocumented immigrants, saying: "Illegal aliens living in Washington, D.C., will be able to get driver's licenses." She went on to note that the law will go into effect "unless Congress intervenes."
Childers repeated her report later during the show, as a graphic read: "Licenses For Illegals."
What Fox News ignored, however, is that these licenses are hardly uncommon and they provide real benefits to law enforcement.
According to the National Immigration Law Center, 11 states and Puerto Rico have passed measures that allow undocumented immigrants to apply for driver's licenses. In Minnesota, a measure has passed one chamber of its legislature, and 10 other states have introduced similar proposals this session.