Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade reacted to a new Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report showing the 2013 deficit dropping by $200 billion by lamenting that the report might discourage further austerity measures.
In a May 14 report, the non-partisan CBO estimated that in 2013, the federal deficit will be $200 billion lower than previously projected, the smallest deficit since 2008. The report also predicted that the deficit over the next 10 years will be $618 billion less than previously thought.
Kilmeade reacted to this news with calls for increased austerity, lamenting that the "positive news" in the CBO report might lead away from a mindset of "fiscal discipline." Kilmeade concluded, "I just hope we still feel the urgency to get our budget in order."
However, Kilmeade's concern may be misplaced. As The Washington Post's Ezra Klein noted in a May 14 post, the new CBO estimate makes the deficit look "downright manageable":
[T]he debt disaster that has obsessed the political class for the last three years is pretty much solved, at least for the next 10 years or so.
In fact, that's probably too much deficit reduction, too quickly.
Many economists agree that too much in spending cuts too quickly can hurt economic growth. In an April 27 post on his New York Times blog, Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman called continued efforts at deficit reduction through austerity measures "very bad policy," explaining that recent declines in government spending -- at the federal, state, and municipal levels -- have contributed to slow economic growth. Similarly, in a February 8 Guardian op-ed, the Center for Economic and Policy Research's Dean Baker asserted that "deficit reduction is throwing people out of work" and concluded that "we need deficits today to fill a huge hole in demand created by the private sector."
Additionally, data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis show that austerity has led to a decline in government spending, which has turned into a drag on economic growth:
Fox News spent one minute covering the historic legalization of same-sex marriage in Rhode Island, Delaware, and Minnesota over the past several weeks. According to an Equality Matters analysis, the network completely ignored the passage of marriage equality legislation in Delaware and made only passing mentions of Rhode Island and Minnesota's new marriage laws.
Our recent report on diversity on evening cable news produced an unexpected finding that raised eyebrows here at Media Matters: According to our results, Fox News' Hannity was the third most ethnically diverse show, sandwiched closely between MSNBC's Politics Nation with Al Sharpton and CNN's Erin Burnett Outfront. But a closer look at the figures shows that this apparent diversity was largely due to the impact of a single Hannity episode devoted to black conservatives who oppose President Obama.
Hannity's guests for April of this year were 30 percent non-white, in stark contrast to the rest of Fox's evening programming, which is dominated by white guests: Special Report with Bret Baier (7 percent of guests were non-white), The O'Reilly Factor (11 percent), and On the Record with Greta Van Susteren (9 percent).
Hannity's apparent greater diversity, though, can largely be attributed to the April 8 episode where host Sean Hannity aired, in his own words, a "very special studio audience edition of Hannity" that was comprised entirely of "a very distinguished group of African-American conservatives."
In all, 22 of Hannity's 58 non-white guests during the month of April were featured on this single show. That represents 38 percent of Hannity's non-white guests and 50 percent of Hannity's African-American guests.
To put into perspective just how truly unusual this April 8 episode was for Hannity, we can look at numbers for a typical show. Excluding the April 8 outlier, the average Hannity show hosted approximately 7 white guests and just a single non-white guest. That puts the numbers much closer to those of the other Fox programs studied.
Fox News contributor Charles Krauthammer continued to hype the right-wing myth that President Obama was missing on the night of the September 11, 2012 attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
During a May 14 panel discussion on the Benghazi investigation during Fox News' Special Report, Krauthammer requested photographic evidence of President Obama's whereabouts on the night of the Benghazi attack:
KRAUTHAMMER: And where was the president on that night? We've all seen the video and the pictures--well the picture of the situation room--of Obama on the night of the Osama raid. And everybody looks at that, oh yeah he was really involved in that. Show me a picture of where he was on the night of the attack in Libya.
The claim that Obama was absent the night of the Benghazi attack has been repeatedly debunked, both by former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin E. Dempsey.
In fact, the very photo Krauthammer requested has been available on the White House Flickr page since at least January:
From the May 14 edition of Fox News' The Five:
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From the May 14 edition of Fox News' The Five:
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Fox News host Bill O'Reilly is admonishing conservatives -- many of whom have appeared on the channel for which he works -- for baselessly tying President Obama to allegations that the Internal Revenue Service targeted conservative groups for extra scrutiny in their efforts to obtain nonprofit tax status.
During a May 13 joint press conference with British Prime Minister David Cameron, Obama addressed a question about the IRS controversy, calling the behavior "outrageous" if true and added that "there's no place for it. And they have to be held fully accountable."
On the May 14 edition of America Live, O'Reilly pushed back against efforts by conservatives to directly tie Obama to the IRS controversy. O'Reilly told co-host Martha MacCallum he does not believe Obama explicitly told the IRS to target conservative groups "because that's insane." O'Reilly added: "But you can't connect it to him without gross speculation. ... Conservative commentators provide cover for Obama when they go further than the facts take them, when they speculate."
Economic media coverage has been heavily focused on advocating for deficit reduction, even as deficits decline and the federal government posts a surplus.
A Media Matters analysis on economic news coverage in the month of April found that media continued their long-established focus on deficit reduction. In 45 of 123 total segments discussing policy impacts on the economy, guests or hosts on network and cable news advocated for deficit reduction as a priority.
Calls for deficit reduction beat out mentions of other economic issues, most notably the need for economic growth and job creation, and economic inequality.
The continued focus on deficit reduction is particularly interesting given the fact that, in the month of April, the federal government posted the largest budget surplus in five years. Furthermore, according to the Congressional Budget Office, current and projected deficits are expected to decline in coming years.
Even conservatives have recently acknowledged that deficit reduction is not the country's most pressing economic issue. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI), agreeing with President Obama, stated that the country is not facing an immediate debt crisis, a notion shared by prominent Democrats. And John Makin, a scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, remarked that Congress has already enacted enough deficit reduction.
Meanwhile, economists have expressed concerns over media's focus on deficits, instead calling attention to resolving the very real immediate crisis of unemployment. Economist Jared Bernstein recently began a series on the path to full employment, and numerous other economists have advocated increased short-term spending to bolster economic growth and job creation.
Furthermore, former Labor Secretary Robert Reich has even pointed out that focusing on jobs and growth -- not spending cuts -- provides an effective avenue for deficit reduction.
CNN is challenging the accuracy of reporting on a supposed email from a White House aide that seemed to suggest an effort to provide political cover for the administration following the September attacks in Benghazi, Libya. The new revelations regarding the email comes after the allegedly flawed reporting has spread through the media.
CNN host Jake Tapper reported today that a newly obtained email from White House aide Ben Rhodes about Benghazi "differs from how sources inaccurately quoted and paraphrased it in previous accounts to different media organizations." Tapper writes that the email shows that someone provided outlets like ABC News and The Weekly Standard with "inaccurate information" to make it appear that the White House was "more interested in the State Department's desire to remove mentions of specific terrorist groups and warnings about these groups so as to not bring criticism to the State Department than Rhodes' email actually stated."
From Tapper's report:
In the email sent on Friday, September 14, 2012, at 9:34 p.m., obtained by CNN from a U.S. government source, Rhodes wrote:
"Sorry to be late to this discussion. We need to resolve this in a way that respects all of the relevant equities, particularly the investigation.
"There is a ton of wrong information getting out into the public domain from Congress and people who are not particularly informed. Insofar as we have firmed up assessments that don't compromise intel or the investigation, we need to have the capability to correct the record, as there are significant policy and messaging ramifications that would flow from a hardened mis-impression.
"We can take this up tomorrow morning at deputies."
You can read the email HERE.
ABC News reported that Rhodes wrote: "We must make sure that the talking points reflect all agency equities, including those of the State Department, and we don't want to undermine the FBI investigation. We thus will work through the talking points tomorrow morning at the Deputies Committee meeting." The Weekly Standard reported that Rhodes "responded to the group, explaining that Nuland had raised valid concerns and advising that the issues would be resolved at a meeting of the National Security Council's Deputies Committee the following morning."
Whoever provided those quotes seemingly invented the notion that Rhodes wanted the concerns of the State Department specifically addressed. While Nuland, particularly, had expressed a desire to remove mentions of specific terrorist groups and CIA warnings about the increasingly dangerous assignment, Rhodes put no emphasis at all in his email on the State Department's concerns.
The allegedly inaccurate characterizations of the Rhodes email by ABC News and The Weekly Standard were repeated in numerous media outlets, and a Republican research document.
Since Kermit Gosnell's conviction of the murder of three infants, right-wing media have dismissed existing laws and the context of Gosnell's case as part of their ongoing campaign to connect his horrific crimes to legal abortion procedures.
From the May 14 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom:
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Tune in to any cable news network in the evening hours and chances are that, no matter the topic, you'll be watching a white guy. Our recent study of diversity on 13 evening cable news shows revealed that white men were hosted 58 percent of the time during April 2013. And this is as true today as it was five years ago.
Back in 2008, we conducted a similar study of evening cable news shows for the month of May, and we found nearly identical results.
Yesterday on Fox News, Senator John McCain (R-AZ) offered thanks to Fox News President Roger Ailes and his colleague Lindsay Graham (R-SC), giving them credit if heightened scrutiny of the terrorist attack in Benghazi results in "a full investigation."
Host Neil Cavuto agreed with the praise for his boss' handiwork, offering confirmation for McCain's suggestion by replying "yeah... head of this network for not letting go of this."
Graham -- appearing on Greta Van Susteren's program a few hours later -- agreed with McCain's assessment, telling the On the Record host "thank God for Fox" while also praising CBS -- presumably for the reporting of Sharyl Attkisson.
The examples of McCain and Graham serve as a reminder that the network has been an active player in the politicization of the Benghazi story from the beginning. This is part of a distinctive pattern we've previously reported at Media Matters in past attempts to flame supposed Obama administration scandals, known as the Fox Cycle.
From day one, when the network distorted a timeline of the attack to attempt to justify a press statement by Mitt Romney's campaign that in conservative writer David Frum's words attempted "to score political points on the killing of American diplomats," Fox viewed Benghazi as a way to score political points against the president.
It was Fox's Megyn Kelly who linked an Obama campaign poster to a blood-smeared wall left after the attack on the diplomatic facility.
Only two weeks after the attack, Sean Hannity claimed Obama was "covering up for Al Qaeda," a charge repeated by Eric Bolling who went on to blame the president for the attack because he had "spik[ed] the football on killing Bin Laden."
In October, Fox had already turned its attention to Hillary Clinton when network analyst Ralph Peters told Bill O'Reilly: "The blood of the ambassador and the other three Americans is on Hillary Clinton's hands."
Later in the month, the hosts of The Five criticized the president for preparing a response to the attacks because it "was too little far too late" and demonstrated "an inept foreign policy."
A few days later, the hosts of Fox & Friends opined that the president might order military action against Libya to gain the upper hand in the presidential debates.
As Election Day approached, Roger Ailes' personal lawyer and Fox News contributor Peter Johnson, Jr. told the hosts of Fox & Friends that the administration may have "sacrificed Americans" for political purposes.
Fox did not let up after the election. Fox & Friends host Steve Doocy asked if General Petraeus was "being blackmailed by the White House to toe the company line."
McCain and Graham should be thankful that Fox from the start has viewed the tragedy in Benghazi as a political weapon to use against the White House. No claim too paranoid, no attack too unseemly. They are right; without Roger Ailes' ability to generate a scandal, the media might be discussing how to ensure our diplomatic outposts are properly protected so a tragedy like what occurred on September 11, 2012, never happens again. Instead we are now in step four of the Fox Cycle -- mainstream media outlets eventually cover the story, echoing the right-wing distortions.
Step six -- the story is later proven to be false or wildly misleading, long after damage is done -- cannot come soon enough.
Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes will reportedly be a recipient of a major award given to "innovative thinkers" whose achievements benefit the conservative movement.
Politico's Mike Allen reported that later today the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, a foundation that gives tens of millions of dollars to a "Who's Who" of right-wing movement organizations every year, will announce that a 2013 Bradley Prize will be awarded to Ailes, along with a stipend of $250,000. The forthcoming release will trumpet Ailes as "a visionary of American journalism" whose "innovative business-building strategies have revolutionized the uncovering and delivery of news in America."
Following President Obama's 2008 election, Ailes reportedly said he saw his network as "The Alamo." Fox News became the "voice of opposition," launching a four-year campaign to make Obama a one-term president. Since the president's re-election, Fox has produced a massive quantity of false and misleading coverage of the September 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya, as they attempt to turn those events into Obama's Watergate, earning plaudits from Republicans senators.
Past recipients of the Bradley Prize include current Fox News contributors Michael Barone, Paul Gigot, Bill Kristol, John Bolton, and Charles Krauthammer, along with a number of other leaders in the conservative movement.
Media outlets largely ignored economic inequality in discussions about the overall economy, despite mounting evidence suggesting that the problem has increased in recent years.
While media have been quick to highlight ostensibly positive gains for the economy -- notably that the Dow Jones Industrial reached 15,000 for the first time in its history, GDP grew by 2.5 percent in the first quarter of 2013, and unemployment for April edged down to 7.5 percent -- signs of rising income inequality have gone largely unmentioned.
According to a recent Media Matters analysis, economic coverage for the month of April barely mentioned issues of inequality. In 123 total segments discussing policy effects on the macroeconomy, only 12 touched upon the growing disparity in economic gains for the rich and the poor.
The discrepancy in covering economic inequality stretched across all major outlets. ABC, CBS, and NBC provided no mentions of the problem. MSNBC devoted the most coverage, with roughly 25 percent of segments on the economy discussing rising inequality.
While the media have pushed inequality out of the spotlight, mounting evidence suggests that the problem is getting worse.
As for the rising stock market, while any gains should be viewed as a positive for the economy as a whole, the distribution of those gains paints a less than perfect picture. According to a Gallup poll, 52 percent of Americans currently hold stocks, a number that has been consistently declining in recent years.
Other indicators highlight the deep-seated nature of economic inequality. According to Congressional Budget Office data, from 1979 to 2007 the top one percent of income earners have seen their after-tax share of total income rise by more than 120 percent, while the bottom 20 percent of earners have seen that share decline by almost 30 percent.
And according to an analysis by journalist David Cay Johnston, economic gains in recent history show an even darker reality - from 2009 to 2011, 149 percent of increased income was reaped by the top 10 percent of earners.
Meanwhile, the economy is currently suffering from an epidemic of long-term unemployed workers, which, as noted in a Bloomberg editorial, could create a permanent underclass of workers unable to reenter the labor force.
Some of the media's attention -- albeit very little -- has focused on the inequitable impact of sequestration on low-income individuals. The overwhelming majority of discussion of inequality in April, most notably on MSNBC, focused on Congress' unwillingness to mitigate the impacts of sequestration of the poor, while members were seemingly enthusiastic to correct inconveniences for those at the upper end of the income scale.
While some attention has been given to economic inequality, the broader trend in media is to ignore the issue, preferring instead to focus on the widely recognized non-issue of short-term deficit and debt reduction.