Media Matters recently documented that Fox News anchor Jon Scott presented a Republican press release on the economic stimulus plan as Fox News' own work. But this is far from the first time Fox News has adopted Republican talking points into its "straight news" reporting or presented Republican research as "news."
Ann Coulter and Glenn Beck further advanced the false claim that the economic recovery package will allow the federal government to control or interfere with doctors' treatment decisions, echoing an assertion by Betsy McCaughey in a Bloomberg commentary. In fact, the provisions McCaughey referred to in her commentary address establishing an electronic records system such that doctors would have complete, accurate information about their patients "to help guide medical decisions at the time and place of care."
Fox News' James Rosen took a quote he attributed to Rep. David Obey out of context to advance the falsehood that provisions in the bill would permit the federal government to control health care. In fact, the bill contains no such provisions.
Fox News' Bill O'Reilly falsely claimed that Rep. Barney Frank, "who was supposed to be in charge of oversight, running the House Finance Committee, he didn't do his job because he was ideologically blinded. He wanted to give mortgages to everybody." In fact, Frank has advocated for policies that emphasize low-income home rentals as opposed to homeownership.
Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh have repeatedly claimed that President Reagan's tax cuts were responsible for ending the recession in the early 1980s, suggesting that tax cuts, and not government spending, would be the best solution to the end the current recession. However, several economists have stated that while fiscal policy had some impact during that period, "[l]ower interest rates after mid-1982 permitted the recovery to begin," according to a 1983 CBO report. By contrast, a reduction in the federal funds interest rate is not available to the Federal Reserve today because the current rate is essentially zero.
During appearances on Lou Dobbs Tonight and Glenn Beck, Dobbs and Beck allowed Betsy McCaughey to advance the false claim that provisions in the economic recovery act would permit the government to control health care. In fact, the provisions she cited address establishing an electronic records system in part for the purpose of "reduc[ing] health care costs resulting from inefficiency, medical errors, inappropriate care, duplicative care, and incomplete information." It does not say that the federal government will determine what constitutes "unnecessary care."
The Wall Street Journal's Stephen Moore and Fox News anchors Bill Hemmer and Megyn Kelly promoted the falsehood -- which first appeared in a Bloomberg "commentary" by Betsy McCaughey and was subsequently promoted by Rush Limbaugh and Matt Drudge -- that the economic recovery bill includes a provision that would, in Moore's words, "hav[e] the government essentially dictate treatments." Limbaugh later took credit for spreading this story.
A New York Times essay by Jason DeParle highlighted a resurgence of the use of the word "welfare" among conservatives, this time to attack President Obama's economy recovery plan. Indeed, while economists agree that provisions in the legislation targeting needy people are among the most economically stimulative, Media Matters documents below the pervasiveness of what DeParle called the "weaponiz[ation]" of the "very word, welfare," in the media, particularly, but not exclusively on Fox News, to denounce the stimulus bill.
In purporting to "take a look back" at how the economic recovery plan "grew, and grew, and grew," Fox News' Jon Scott referenced seven dates, as on-screen graphics cited various news sources from those time periods -- all of which came directly from a Senate Republican Communications Center press release. A Fox News on-screen graphic even reproduced a typo contained in the Republican press release.
On Fox News' On the Record, Sean Hannity falsely identified "a Frisbee golf course" as an example of an earmark in the economic recovery bill. In fact, there is no earmark for "a Frisbee golf course" in either the House or Senate version of the bill, which both specifically prohibit using funds in the bill for a "golf course." The Senate version also prohibits using funds for a "community park."
On its website and on Your World, Fox News has promoted the misrepresentation of a provision in the economic recovery bill to make false claims about restrictions on spending in the bill for religious activities in schools. In fact, the provision is nearly identical to provisions included in numerous other federal bills.
On his radio and television shows, Sean Hannity again claimed that "[n]o other speaker had" a military plane "before" Nancy Pelosi and that she is the "first speaker to ever have that plane." In fact, following 9-11, the House sergeant-at-arms, the Defense Department, and the White House agreed that military planes should be made available to the speaker of the House for national security reasons, and the first speaker to use such a plane was Dennis Hastert in 2001.
In recent days, Sean Hannity has repeatedly claimed that Mark McKinnon is "a pollster for the Democrats," a "Democratic pollster," or a "Democratic strategist." In fact, McKinnon has described himself as a "moderate Republican" and served as a senior adviser to Sen. John McCain's presidential campaign and as former President Bush's chief media adviser.
Fox News' Greta Van Susteren allowed Sen. Lindsey Graham to advance the myth that the economic recovery legislation would "reward ACORN." In fact, neither the House version nor the proposed Senate version mentions ACORN. The false claim is based on a misrepresentation of a provision that would appropriate $4.19 billion for neighborhood stabilization activities, but which would be distributed through competitive processes; ACORN has denied that it is eligible, or plans to apply, for those funds.
While criticizing President Obama for saying that the economy is currently doing poorly, Steve Doocy purported to contrast what Obama has said with FDR's famous statement that "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself." In fact, in the very speech in which Roosevelt made that remark, he said of the economy at the time, "Values have shrunk to fantastic levels; taxes have risen; our ability to pay has fallen; government of all kinds is faced by serious curtailment of income." Roosevelt later added: "Only a foolish optimist can deny the dark realities of the moment."