Rolling Stone recently included News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch in its list of politicians and executives it contends are "blocking progress on global warming," writing that "Murdoch's entire media empire, it would seem, is set up to deny, deny, deny." Indeed, for years, Fox News has done more than any other major news outlet in the United States to sow confusion about climate change, as this list of Fox News' top 10 climate science distortions demonstrates.
In an article titled, "Five Reasons the Planet May Not Be Its Hottest Ever," FoxNews.com sought to debunk the fact that Earth has warmed over the past 30 years, as well as the notion that human activity has contributed to the warming. But Fox largely ignored climate science and botched basic facts in the article, portions of which "are utter nonsense" and "do not make sense" according to climatologists consulted by Media Matters, including one of the skeptics cited by Fox.
The calculator asks users to enter their gross annual income, then spits out "your taxpayer share" of the total cost of the bill. Chris Wallace, for example, promoted the calculator on the January 19 edition of Special Report (accessed via Nexis), stating, "[C]heck out our tax calculator on the FOXnews.com homepage to see how much the new healthcare law is costing you." But here's the problem, like so much of Fox's coverage of the health care bill, it just isn't accurate. The nonpartisan Tax Foundation took a look at the calculator and concluded that "the calculator suffers from so many flaws that its numbers are essentially meaningless." From the Tax Foundation:
Fox News recently put up an online calculator that purports to show individuals their personal share of the cost of health care reform. CBO, in its final score of the reform bills, put the total gross cost of the new coverage provisions at $938 billion from 2010 to 2019. The calculator is designed to show you how much of that $938 billion you are personally responsible for. It's an interesting idea, but the calculator suffers from so many flaws that its numbers are essentially meaningless.
Yesterday, FoxNews.com published an article outlining the recent public spat between National Public Radio and Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO) over his recently reintroduced bill to defund NPR. After playing stenographer to both Rep. Lamborn and NPR, the article concludes:
NPR says only 1 percent to 3 percent of its $166 million budget is funded by taxpayer dollars. But a recent report by the Congressional Research Service found that taxpayers fund at least 4 percent of NPR's budget, while an analyst at the conservative American Thinker estimated it was closer to 25 percent.
So, we have a report from the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service being placed on equal footing with an unnamed "analyst" at a conservative blog.
The "analyst" in question is Mark Browning, who probably does not fit most readers' definition of that term: he teaches English at Johnson County Community College. After he published his piece at American Thinker and a similar op-ed in the New York Post, Browning appeared on Fox & Friends to discuss NPR. The chyron during that appearance billed him as an English professor, and made no mention of any other experience which might qualify him to accurately estimate the funding sources of NPR's budget. To uncritically bill him as an "analyst" implies a level of credibility that simply does not exist, given the available details about his background.
Further, the comparison between these two completely leaves out a number of assumptions Browning makes in his so-called "estimate." Browning contends that federal funds trickle into NPR's national budget in several ways, among them grants from publicly funded organizations, tax-funded university dollars, and deductions for donations. Browning tries to estimate the sum of those funds, and in doing so runs fast and reckless with the numbers. From Browning's article:
At first glance, this distribution of funds seems to confirm that public radio's support does not come in large amounts from the direct allocation of tax moneys. After all, 5.6% is not a gigantic portion of the budget, is it? But let's look more closely. That 10.1% that comes from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting is 99% provided by -- you guessed it -- the federal government. Those university funds, whenever they are provided by a public university, represent taxpayer-provided dollars. We can safely assert that three out of four university-supported stations are publicly funded, which means that more than 10% (three-quarters of that 13.6%) is taken from the taxpayer's pockets.
99 percent of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting's budget comes from the federal government? That would come as news to the authors of the Fox article that cites Browning's estimate, seeing as how they report that only 13 percent of CPB's budget is federally funded:
NPR issued a statement this week blasting Lamborn's two bills, one which would defund the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which receives 13 percent of its funding from taxpayers and awards NPR some grant money. The other would eliminate federal funding just for NPR. Local public radio stations are more dependent on federal funding than NPR is.
Who would have thought we'd see the day when Fox News published an estimate relying on data debunked in its own reporting? Browning continues:
Those university funds, whenever they are provided by a public university, represent taxpayer-provided dollars. We can safely assert that three out of four university-supported stations are publicly funded, which means that more than 10% (three-quarters of that 13.6%) is taken from the taxpayer's pockets.
Uh-huh. That might make sense, if one could credibly argue that public university budgets were entirely comprised of tax dollars. Apparently, despite working for an institution of higher learning, Browning is unfamiliar with the concept of tuition, or donations from graduates. More from Browning:
Obviously the support by individuals, businesses, and foundations does not constitute taxpayer funding, right? Not so fast. These donations are tax-deductible; thus, they are subsidized by the government. Granted, not every gift is actually reflected on an individual or business tax return, and not all of those that are itemized wind up offsetting high marginal tax rates. Still, it is reasonable to believe that on average, these gifts result in deductions at the 25% tax bracket. Since these three categories add up to roughly 64% of station funds, we can reasonably argue that 16% of that money (64% x 0.25) is subsidized by the tax code.
If one considers tax-deductible donations to be a federal subsidy, then all manner of organizations receive so-called federal funding: The Heritage Foundation, Save the Children, The American Civil Liberties Union, and (Gasp!) Media Matters for America. Representatives of conservative organizations would likely balk at the suggestion that their acceptance of tax-deductible donations constitutes federal funding... because that's ridiculous.
If FoxNews.com is going to put an American Thinker post on the same level as a CRS report, they should at least explain how that post arrived at its absurdly higher number.
So to review the entire process chronologically: (1) Browning writes flimsy, hole-ridden estimate of NPR's funding. (2) Fox & Friends, a Fox News opinion program, brings Browning on to discuss NPR. (3) FoxNews.com cites Browning's work, as that of an unnamed analyst, on par with that of the Congressional Research Service, in supposedly straight news reporting. In other words, this is one more time Fox has used opinions from its commentary programming to manufacture so-called straight news.
John Lott has penned a FoxNews.com op-ed criticizing as "a mess" a recent University of Maryland study which found that Fox News viewers were more likely to be misinformed than those who did not watch the network. However, the op-ed makes its case by misinforming readers on the economic stimulus, health care reform, and climate science.
FoxNews.com is usually an extension of Fox News' ostensibly "straight news" division-- a farcical distinction, as illustrated by memos recently obtained by Media Matters showing efforts by Fox News executives to slant its coverage of the health care reform debate and climate change.
In reality, FoxNews.com has promoted bogus scandals, such as the New Black Panther Party case and "patently false" voter fraud accusations. And while they typically leave the blatant right-wing bias to their sister site, Fox Nation, some of their headlines from today made it seem that their New Year's Resolution is to become even less "fair and balanced":
In the days following the blizzard in New York City, right-wing media seized on a Republican NYC councilman's claim that a deliberate union slow-down was responsible for the city's widely criticized snow removal. In fact, numerous city officials, including Mayor Michael Bloomberg, say there is no evidence for the claim and many reports have cited other factors likely to be responsible, such as the mayor's failure to declare a state of emergency and an inadequate number of sanitation workers.
The Census Bureau has released the first bundle of their 2010 data and findings, including which states will gain congressional seats based on population growth, and which will lose them. State legislatures need this data first so they can begin the grueling process of redistricting legislative districts as soon as they convene next year. But the Census Bureau has a lot more, less-time sensitive information that it will be releasing as time goes on. But the lack of full information doesn't matter to the Republican PR machine that is Fox News.
Fox News has decided what the preliminary data release means: people moved from states to high taxes to states with low taxes.
Here's Fox News' Martha MacCallum beating the drum:
MACCALLUM: But we do know that people vote with their feet, okay? And when you've got people leaving my beloved home state of New Jersey, I mean, the taxes are too high, and, you know, the government is having a tough time.
COLMES: Yeah, well, that's nice to make the assumption that people are leaving because of union issues, or because of right to work issues. How do we know they're not going there because of the weather? We don't know the motivation, we don't know why people are going from state to state. You're presuming-- Let me look at a map--
COLMES: It could be, hey, I like the warm weather of Arizona. I like the warm weather of Texas.
Of course, Fox News contributor Alan Colmes failed to persuade MacCallum that this particular correlation equals causation.
Of course, Fox News' relentless insistence that taxes are the main driving factor ignores other potential causes besides the weather.
Yesterday on Fox News Latino, there appeared a story with the headline: "DREAM Students Volunteer to Serve." The article detailed the actions of a cadre of undocumented residents of the U.S. "offering to serve as volunteers in the military of the country they grew up in," hoping to put pressure on Congress to pass the DREAM Act, which "would allow immigrants whose families brought them into the United States illegally to obtain legal residence if they serve in the Armed Forces or go to college." It was a sympathetic look at a segment of the population that finds themselves stuck between their American identity and their legal status.
Or, to look at it another way, it was a very un-Fox News-like story.
And that's what's so intriguing about Fox News Latino. The website, as Fox News senior VP Michael Clemente put it, is designed to bolster Fox News' appeal to the country's rapidly growing Hispanic population. That mission, of course, stands athwart the mission of the rest of the Fox News empire, which is to stoke fear and resentment of Latinos and other minorities.
Fox's mustachioed libertarian John Stossel tells us today that the "Lost Lesson of Thanksgiving" is that communalism almost killed the pilgrims at Plymouth. He wrote on FoxNews.com that the pilgrims "organized their farm economy along communal lines ... That's why they nearly all starved." Once they "moved from socialism to private farming," they had tons of food and everything was grand. "Because of the change, the first Thanksgiving could be held in November 1623," he says.
Stossel also appeared on Fox News' America Live to share his lesson with host Megyn Kelly. The appearance is currently being promoted on the top of Fox Nation.
So is he right? The New York Times' Kate Zernike noted earlier this week that Stossel's tale has been "related by libertarians and conservatives for years." She talked to a historian who makes clear that the history isn't as simple as Stossel would have us believe. From Zernike's article:
Historians say that the settlers in Plymouth, and their supporters in England, did indeed agree to hold their property in common -- William Bradford, the governor, referred to it in his writings as the "common course." But the plan was in the interest of realizing a profit sooner, and was only intended for the short term; historians say the Pilgrims were more like shareholders in an early corporation than subjects of socialism.
"It was directed ultimately to private profit," said Richard Pickering, a historian of early America and the deputy director of Plimoth Plantation, a museum devoted to keeping the Pilgrims' story alive.
The arrangement did not produce famine. If it had, Bradford would not have declared the three days of sport and feasting in 1621 that became known as the first Thanksgiving. "The celebration would never have happened if the harvest was going to be less than enough to get them by," Mr. Pickering said. "They would have saved it and rationed it to get by."
On November 9, Fox News hosted former Republican congressman J.D. Hayworth to discuss drug-related violence near the border with Mexico. Fox & Friends host Brian Kilmeade introduced Hayworth by stating: "Our next guest says this is America's third war and we're losing":
KILMEADE: One person's head found in a giftwrapped box. Seven gunned down at a birthday party and dozens more killed in gang-fueled shootouts in the city of Juarez. And that's just this weekend. Our next guest says this is America's third war and we're losing.
DOOCY: Former U.S. congressman and former candidate for US Senate, J.D. Hayworth joins us live from Phoenix. Good morning to you, J.D.
HAYWORTH: Morning Steve. Morning Brian. It's not so much that we're losing a war. We're failing to fight it.
A week after Hayworth's appearance, Fox News debuted a "new series" about the Southern border called "America's Third War." On November 15, Fox's "straight news" programs America's Newsroom, Happening Now, and America Live all featured reports from, in the words of anchor Martha MacCallum, "our new series called 'America's Third War.'" FoxNews.com also published an article titled, "America's Third War: National Guard's New Mission."
And they made graphics:
Fox News is baselessly smearing numerous participants in a "Capitol Hill Prayer Group" as being "among a 'Who's Who' of controversial figures" with "terror ties." But many of those listed are outspoken opponents of terrorism and appear to have no ties to terrorists; indeed, at least one has recently appeared as a guest on Fox News.
One of FoxNews.com's top news stories trumpets a mother's complaints about her son's assignment to recite the Pledge of Allegiance in Spanish for his middle school Spanish class:
The article itself reports that school officials say that students and parents were made aware of the assignment for the Spanish class at the beginning of the year, but that the mother did not complain until after her son had failed to complete the assignment.
Does FoxNews.com consider it news that students who do not do their homework receive a zero?
FoxNews.com writes that Fox News contributors Sarah Palin and Karl Rove "butted heads" on election night Tuesday, continuing their fight for the Fox 2012 Primary.
From a November 2 article, titled "Rove, Palin still Diverge on Christine O'Donnell":
Rove drew fire from Palin and other conservatives earlier this year after O'Donnell won the Republican primary in a surprising upset, saying that O'Donnell was unelectable, had made too many mistakes and carried too many skeletons in her background, and would prove detrimental to the party. Palin and others immediately critized Rove's comments.
Tuesday night, in the wake of O'Donnell's defeat, the two FNC contributors showed they still haven't come to an agreement.
Fox News Channel's website, FoxNews.com, is currently pushing baseless allegations that unionized technicians contracted to work on voting machines in Nevada are trying to alter election results. Earlier today, Media Matters noted that Clark County Registrar of Voters Larry Lomax called claims of fraud in Nevada's elections "patently false."