Fox News attacked Vice President Joe Biden for accurately explaining how the Affordable Care Act (ACA) helps free women from job lock and grants them greater independence and choice.
On the February 26 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck and guest Crystal Wright from ConservativeBlackChick.com launched a scathing attack on Biden, calling his remarks on the ACA and women "ridiculous" and "demeaning." Wright argued that Biden "put women in stereotypes," while claiming that Republicans "give women a choice ... you can be a career woman, you can be a stay-at-home mom."
But even the clip of Biden's statement made on the February 25 edition of ABC's The View played during the Fox & Friends segment accurately demonstrated that his remarks referred to women's increased ability to choose their employment status because the ACA will reduce job lock. Biden noted that this will give women the ability, if they choose, to leave their jobs for other opportunities because they will not be dependent on the health care provided by that job:
BIDEN: This is about freedom. How many of you are single women, with children, in a dead-end job, you're there because of your health insurance? You would rather have the opportunity to spend the next couple years with your child until they get -- if that was your choice -- until they get into primary school. You're now trapped in that job because if you leave, you lose your health insurance. Now, you'll be able to do -- make an independent choice. Do you want to stay in that job and still have health insurance? Or do you want to stay in that job even though you can get health insurance absent that job? And it gives women a great deal more freedom.
The New York Times explains that job lock occurs "when people stay in jobs they dislike, or don't want, solely to keep their health coverage. A Harvard Business School study in 2008 estimated that 11 million workers are affected by this dilemma. Other studies show that when people don't have to worry about health insurance, they are up to 25 percent more likely to change jobs."
Though Hasselbeck contended that women don't "just work for the free health insurance," this ignores the 11 million workers who do, in fact, face this dilemma. The reduction in job lock enabled by the health care law will allow greater freedom and choice not only for women but for everyone in the labor force.
While Fox has repeatedly derided the reduction of job lock due to the ACA, economists praise the benefits; as The New York Times noted, the labor force can now "allocate itself more efficiently," and reducing job lock will help spur entrepreneurship. The Congressional Budget Office also reported that the reduction of job lock will increase short-term opportunity for the unemployed, and will help stimulate economic growth.
Right-wing media figures, led by Fox News, have launched a campaign against the Girl Scouts accusing the group of indoctrinating young girls into liberal politics. The accusation has been propped up by misleading claims, ludicrous oversimplifications, and frequently repeated myths about the organization, which focuses on empowering girls.
Just days after one Fox host made the lucid acknowledgement that the network's campaign against Susan Rice was based on dishonest smears about the genesis of her 2012 Benghazi talking points, another Fox host attempted to exploit Rice's recent appearance on Meet the Press by relapsing into the same debunked accusations against her.
Beginning in 2012, Fox repeatedly pushed the smear that then-U.N. ambassador Susan Rice deceptively attributed the September 11 attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi to the violent protests that had broken out in other parts of the Middle East and Africa in response to an anti-Islam YouTube video. The network persisted in dragging Rice through the mud until Fox host Megyn Kelly briefly broke ranks on the February 12, 2014 edition of Fox News' The Kelly File and admitted Rice had simply cited the best intelligence available at the time.
Days later, after Rice made a nearly identical argument on Meet the Press, Fox apparently couldn't let an opportunity to continue inventing Benghazi news hooks go to waste. On February 24 the hosts of Fox News' Fox & Friends were back to pushing the networks' tired smears:
Substantial evidence supports Rice. A bipartisan Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report released in January 2014 stated that "[s]ome intelligence suggests the attacks were likely put together in short order, following that day's violent protests in Cairo against an inflammatory video." It also determined that "there were no efforts by the White House or any other Executive Branch entities to 'cover-up' facts or make alterations for political purposes" -- directly refuting Fox's efforts to drag both Rice and another official, then-CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell, through the mud.
Fox News has repeatedly hosted members of the fringe group Clarion Project, an anti-Muslim organization known for spreading Islamophobic fears, to discuss serious national security matters.
On February 20, Fox News hosted Ryan Mauro, a national security analyst from the Clarion Project, also known as the Clarion Fund, to discuss possible security threats on airlines. Mauro has recently appeared on Fox several times where he has argued that 'Muslim patrols' were a growing security concern for the United States, discussed the possibility of an anti-American alliance in the Middle East with Syrian Jihadists, and hyped fears that Somali refugees in the United States were becoming 'homegrown' terrorists.
But Mauro and other Clarion Project members are not credible sources to discuss issues such as these given their virulent history of Islamophobia. Clarion Project has been widely criticized for producing and spreading Islamophobic material including the movie, Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West, a film that depicted Muslims as terrorists seeking world conquest. Think Progress reported that this was only the first installment of "Clarion's ongoing production of Islamophobic films."
Mauro himself has penned numerous pieces for the anti-Islam blog Islamist Watch where he has tracked his progress in identifying "Muslim enclaves" in the United States that he says will become "'no-go zones' where governments admit to having little authority over Muslims living there" :
The construction of the building blocks for similar Muslim enclaves and "no-go zones" in the U.S. is one of the most disturbing programs of Islamist groups. If successful, these territories will be the first to establish Shari'a law in the country, thus offering a profound challenge to America's constitutional order.
Other board members from the Clarion Project who have also made their way onto Fox include Frank Gaffney, one of America's most notorious Islamophobes and Fox's go-to anti-Muslim activist, Zuhdi Jasser. Gaffney has used funding for his Center for Security Policy to produce reports promoting the baseless myth that Muslims are conspiring to implement Sharia law in the United States.
According to a Center for American Progress report, the Clarion Project is funded by three of the seven top anti-Islam and anti-Muslim think tanks and organizations in the United States, including the Donors Capital Fund, Newton D. & Rochelle F. Becker foundations and charitable trust, and Anchorage Charitable Foundation and William Rosenwal Family Fund. The Center for American Progress describes these donors as the "lifeblood of the Islamophobia network in America," and the report tracks how these donors use their money to support groups like the Clarion Project to "spread a deliberately misleading messages about Islam and Muslims that is fundamentally antithetical to our nation's foundation and principals of religious freedom."
In his first appearance after signing a new contract with Fox News, former Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown again suggested that he may run for Senate later this year, raising more questions about the journalistic ethics of Fox keeping him on the payroll.
In a February 20 appearance on Fox & Friends, Brown discussed several Senate races currently underway. Co-host Elizabeth Hasselbeck then asked him, "When are we going to see your name on one of these races in the future? Coming up? For Senate?" Brown replied, "I'm obviously taking things into consideration, I'm going to make some decisions and we'll see what happens."
For the past year, Brown has used his role at Fox News to keep himself in the spotlight in this fashion while he ponders a run for the Senate in New Hampshire. Brown has repeatedly stoked such speculation, relocating to New Hampshire, speaking at GOP events in the state, and teasing a new website with a campaign-ready slogan. Brown also made two appearances in Iowa last year and has a third planned for April, driving speculation that he may run for president in 2016.
Fox News has reportedly said Brown's contract would be terminated if he "authorized an exploratory committee to be formed for a run." According to Politico media reporter Dylan Byers, until that step is taken, Brown will continue to "use the Fox News platform to prove his conservative bonafides to Granite State voters." On February 19, Fox announced that they had signed Brown to a new contract, allowing him to retain that platform.
Fox has been a big booster for Brown, both during his successful 2010 Senate run and as he considers a 2016 race. During his February 20 appearance, Fox aired video of Brown singing with the band Cheap Trick at a recent concert and asked the former senator to comment.
Fusion's Alicia Menendez took Fox News to task for its response to the unveiling of Facebook's new gender options, asking the network "do you not have producers?"
During the February 18 edition of Fusion's AM Tonight, Menendez mocked Fox News' confused response to Facebook's announcement that it would allow its users to choose from a number of different terms to describe their gender:
MENENDEZ: Fox & Friends and enemies, you are totally right. That is hilarious and not at all complicated or sensitive. I am so sorry that Facebook assaulted your male/female, socialist/patriot, illegal alien/noble pilgrim paradigms. Now, let's get back to the business of dog weddings and mocking other disenfranchised people, shall we?
Fox distorted a call from Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR) to limit the amount of secret money in campaigns to claim he was pushing for the IRS to target conservative organizations.
On the February 14 edition of Fox & Friends, the co-hosts suggested that Democrats supported using the IRS to "shut your enemies down in the middle of a presidential campaign. During the segment, co-host Clayton Morris quoted Pryor, adding that the senator had said to "go after conservative groups":
MORRIS: Senator Mark Pryor, who has a tough battle ahead of reelection campaign in arkansas, wants more targeting of conservative groups, he told the hill newspaper, there are two things you don't want in political money in fundraising world and expenditure. No secret money and unlimited money and that's what we have now. So go after conservative groups. The IRS should be more belligerent in targeting them
Morris' characterization of Pryor's statement is misleading and dishonest. The quotation that Morris is distorting appeared in a February 13 article in The Hill, and mentions the role of money in politics but does not promote the targeting of any groups in any way whatsoever:
Sen. Mark Pryor (Ark.), the most vulnerable Democratic incumbent, said the IRS has jurisdiction over 501(c)(4) groups, as well as charities, which fall under section 501(c)(3) of the tax code and sometimes engage in quasi-political activity.
"That whole 501(c)(3), 501(c)(4) [issue], those are IRS numbers. It is inherently an internal revenue matter," he said. "There are two things you don't want in political money, in the fundraising world and expenditure world. You don't want secret money, and you don't want unlimited money, and that's what we have now."
In fact, the article goes on point out that, while some Democrats are pushing for regulations on money from outside groups influencing campaigns, they "are careful to say that the IRS should treat conservative and liberal groups equally."
Right-wing media accused President Obama of unprecedented overreach resembling that of a "dictator" for the ordinary administrative agency rule-making process surrounding the implementation of the Affordable Care Act's (ACA) employer mandate.
In a misleading tease for a segment about universal pre-kindergarten, Fox News host Tucker Carlson falsely claimed that President Obama has vowed "to mandate universal preschool programs."
On the February 14 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Tucker Carlson said before cutting to commercial break, "President Obama vowing to mandate universal preschool programs" and asked if the government has a "right to control your children." Obama's push for early education programs, however, does not include mandating them, as he specifically laid out in his State of the Union address when he asked Congress "to help states make high-quality pre-K available to every four-year-old." And as Jonathan Cohn at The New Republic points out, "[P]articipation in the program would be strictly voluntary. Nobody is mandating that anybody go to preschool."
Fox News employees struggled to wrap their head around Facebook's decision to allow users to choose from a number of different terms to describe their gender, with one Fox News reporter asking "what if you identify as a pine cone?"
On February 13, Facebook announced that it would begin offering its users the ability to choose from a wider range of terms to describe their gender, including "transgender" and "cisgender." As Facebook software engineer Brielle Harrsion told the Associated Press, the change "means the world" to many Facebook users:
"All too often transgender people like myself and other gender nonconforming people are given this binary option, do you want to be male or female? What is your gender? And it's kind of disheartening because none of those let us tell others who we really are," she said. "This really changes that, and for the first time I get to go to the site and specify to all the people I know what my gender is."
At Fox News, the change was met with confusion and mockery. During the February 14 edition of Fox & Friends, several Fox News employees joked about the proposed changes:
Fox News Radio reporter Todd Starnes criticized the changes on his Facebook page, asking "what if you identify as a pine cone?":
It's not the first time the network has mocked attempts to properly identify transgender people. In 2011, Fox & Friends criticized the Australian government for offering alternate gender descriptions in passports. The network has a history of proudly misgendering transgender people, so it's no wonder that Facebook's move to better accommodate the transgender community is met with bewilderment on Fox.
Fox News pushed aside economic reality and Volkswagen's stated position surrounding unionization effort at a Tennessee plant, instead warning that a unionization push may generate too many benefits for workers and hurt the carmaker.
Workers at a Volkswagen AG plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee are voting this week on whether to unionize with the United Auto Workers (UAW). A final vote on the move is scheduled to take place by February 14, and in advance of the decision, outside conservative activist groups have mobilized a campaign to halt the unionization effort, succeeding in skewing local coverage of the issue.
Now Fox News is joining the union opposition effort. The February 13 edition of Fox & Friends stoked fears that unionization could hurt the U.S. economy and make manufacturing prohibitively expensive, something that Fox Business host Stuart Varney called "a very big issue":
PETER JOHNSON, JR.: What does this sound in terms of the economy, in terms of right to work, in terms of our ability in this country to manufacture in a way that's not too expensive?
VARNEY: Oh, it's a very big issue.
JOHNSON: Yeah. Tell us about that.
VARNEY: A very, very big issue. Foreign carmakers have, I think, 11 plants in more than a dozen states in America. They're nonunion, very successful automobile producers. Now, if the union comes into Volkswagen, do they now have union rules, work rules? Which really hurts the ability of a carmaker to move quickly with a new product. What about wage levels? What about benefits? Do those always go up because of unionization?
Varney purports to be concerned with economic growth and employer's rights, but it is at the expense of the facts.
The reality is that Volkswagen is not opposing the unionization effort in Tennessee.
Fox host Brian Kilmeade is worried. Worried that President Obama's move to increase wages for some federal workers could lead to ... higher wages for workers?
Kilmeade's concern comes as Obama, in response to congressional inaction on raising the minimum wage, pursues executive action that will boost wages for federally contracted workers to a minimum of $10.10 per hour, effective January 1, 2015. The action will only apply to newly contracted workers.
Discussing the president's action on the February 12 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, Kilmeade warned of a "ripple effect" that could occur if other "start demanding raises."
KILMEADE: And how is this going to affect business? Just think about this real quick, if you want to get - elevate everybody's minimum wage to $10.10 from $7 and something else, you have to say to yourself, those people who are making $2 above minimum wage, whatever it was, they're going to go "excuse me, could I have a raise? Because the whole country have a raise?" And then you got to ask every business owner, "can you handle that? Will it affect hiring?" So there's going to be a ripple effect. But the president's trying to show that he's not going to be hamstrung by a legislature that does not get along.
JOHNSON JR.: You're absolutely right, in the wake of bad job creation numbers over the last few days, the President is saying, "I'm for the working man and working woman in this country" although, it really won't have much effect at all. "I'm trying to send a signal," as Brian says, that "I'm the guy, I'm you're guy, I'm for you, let's stop income disparity in this country."
Kilmeade's concern trolling over whether increased wages will "affect hiring" is a canard. Economists say raising the minimum wage will help stimulate the economy while benefiting millions of workers.
In an open letter to Obama and congressional leaders, over 600 economists agreed that an increase would not negatively impact employment and could even have a "small stimulative effect on the economy as low-wage workers spend their additional earnings, raising demand and job growth." The economists further highlighted the fact that a national minimum wage increase would cause a dramatic "spillover" effect that would boost compensation for millions "as employers adjust their internal wage ladders," and, unlike Fox, noted that this is beneficial to the economy. From the open letter (emphasis added):
This policy would directly provide higher wages for close to 17 million workers by 2016. Furthermore, another 11 million workers whose wages are just above the new minimum would likely see a wage increase through "spillover" effects, as employers adjust their internal wage ladders. The vast majority of employees who would benefit are adults in working families, disproportionately women, who work at least 20 hours a week and depend on these earnings to make ends meet. At a time when persistent high unemployment is putting enormous downward pressure on wages, such a minimum-wage increase would provide a much-needed boost to the earnings of low-wage workers.
In recent years there have been important developments in the academic literature on the effect of increases in the minimum wage on employment, with the weight of evidence now showing that increases in the minimum wage have had little or no negative effect on the employment of minimum-wage workers, even during times of weakness in the labor market. Research suggests that a minimum-wage increase could have a small stimulative effect on the economy as low-wage workers spend their additional earnings, raising demand and job growth, and providing some help on the jobs front.
Economic experts at The Economic Policy Institute have called Obama's executive order "a good first step" toward improving wages for American workers and have repeatedly called on Obama to take this action to "insure that taxpayer funds are not used to create an ever larger workforce that is unable to escape poverty and support a decent standard of living."
A man accused of violating Washington, D.C.'s gun laws is conservative media's latest dubious "hero" in its ongoing effort to attack stronger gun laws.
Right-wing media are defending a Washington, D.C. man on trial for possessing unregistered ammunition by making a flawed comparison between his situation and NBC News host David Gregory's display of a high-capacity ammunition magazine on Meet the Press following the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre.
Conservative media's complaint that Washington, D.C. financial advisor Mark Witaschek faces trial while Gregory faced no criminal charges ignores that those two situations rest upon entirely different circumstances.
On the December 23, 2012, edition of Meet the Press, Gregory showed, for demonstration purposes, a 30-round high-capacity ammunition magazine like the one used in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that claimed 26 lives nine days earlier. In Washington, it is illegal to own a magazine that holds more than 10 rounds. NBC apparently ran the segment after a miscommunication with law enforcement. Gregory's display of the magazine angered conservative media including Washington Times senior opinion editor Emily Miller who wrote that Gregory "should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law." In January 2013, Washington prosecutors announced that Gregory would not be charged with a crime in a letter that explained, "Influencing our judgment in this case, among other things, is our recognition that the intent of the temporary possession and short display of the magazine was to promote the First Amendment purpose of informing an ongoing public debate about firearms policy in the United States."
Witaschek's legal problems began in the summer of 2012. Following alarming allegations that Witaschek threatened his "estranged wife" with a gun, police visited his home on two occasions. During both visits, police found unregistered ammunition in Witaschek's home. In Washington, D.C., only individuals who have registered firearms may possess ammunition. Witaschek was charged with violating Washington's gun laws. The charge from the first police visit was thrown out because even though Witaschek consented to a search, the visit was conducted without a warrant. Witaschek was offered a plea deal that included no jail time and a $500 fine to resolve the charge from the second police visit, which was performed with a warrant. Witaschek rejected the offer and plans to go to trial on the remaining charge.
The same day yet another House Republican investigation into the attack in Benghazi debunked tired conservative myths, The Hill excerpts a piece of Amie Parnes and Jonathan Allen's book HRC: State Secrets and the Rebirth of Hillary Clinton, detailing an interesting twist in the relationship between Darrell Issa and the former Secretary of State.
"When the call came in at three o'clock in the morning, the failure wasn't viewed, at least as of today, as Secretary Clinton's. It was really an Obama failure," the GOP House Oversight Committee Chair told the journalists in December 2012. "Her legacy is mostly intact for 2016, if she chooses."
"The front end of it, Hillary's part of it, was very good," he continued. "I don't think she'd lie to me. In that sense, I trust her like any politician and particularly any diplomat - every word within a statement has to be carefully made sure you heard it correctly."
The Hill also cites Issa favorably comparing Hillary Clinton to other Obama officials.
"When you look at Eric Holder, I do not trust him. I do not believe he is trustworthy. I do no believe he is honest," he said. "In the case of Secretary Clinton, I think her personal standing - her legacy of tough but honest, diplomatic but not disingenuous - I think it's important to her."
So if Darrell Issa had such a positive view of Hillary Clinton in December 2012, it raises the intriguing question of when the relationship went south. A look at the public record would suggest this change might have taken place the following spring, when Republicans and the conservative media shifted their ire from the President to Hillary Clinton in anticipation of her Presidential campaign.
In April 2013, with the release of a Benghazi investigation from five Republican congressional chairman which mentioned Hillary Clinton 30 times and mentioned the President only 11, came Issa's first major attack on Hillary Clinton's credibility -- and one that represented a huge embarrassment for the GOP.
The report referenced a cable from March 28, 2012, sent from then-U.S. Ambassador to Libya Gene Cretz to Hillary Clinton asking for additional security resources in Libya. A reply containing the Secretary's signature was delivered in April "acknowledge[ing] then-Ambassador Cretz's formal request for additional security assets but ordered the withdrawal of security elements to proceed as planned" from Libya.
On the day the report came out, Darrell Issa appeared on Fox & Friends claiming "The secretary of state was just wrong. She said she did not participate in this, and yet only a few months before the attack, she outright denied security in her signature in a cable, April 2012." Issa and the conservative media believed they had caught Clinton in a lie, as she had testified before Congress in January "that the security cables did not come to my attention or above the assistant secretary level."
Republicans and the conservative media trumpeted their evidence, but all they demonstrated was their own ignorance. As The Washington Post fact checker Glenn Kessler, who spent years covering the State Department, explained, "every single cable from Washington gets the secretary's name at the bottom, even if the secretary happens to be on the other side of the world at the time."
There was no reason to believe Clinton ever saw or knew about the documents in question, yet to this day neither Issa nor any of his Republican colleagues have apologized for their smear job.
Economists are encouraged by reports that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will increase job flexibility by allowing workers to maintain health coverage outside employment, calling the impact good for workers and the economy. But to Fox News, increased flexibility just means increased laziness.