Right-wing media figures seized on what ABC News' Jake Tapper has described as an "apparently erroneous" report of a statement allegedly made by President Obama's nominee for special envoy to the Organization of the Islamic Conference Rashad Hussain to portray him as a "pro-jihadist," a "radical," and a "terrorist sympathizer." But, as Tapper points out, Hussain has argued that terrorism is "antithetical" to Islam had has written extensively on "[d]iscrediting the terrorist ideology...to stop al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups."
Earlier today, the Associated Press published an article on the resignation of Yvo de Boer, the United Nations' top climate change official. It's an interesting story, and the AP, as is their wont, presented it in a just-the-facts fashion:
De Boer is known to be deeply disappointed with outcome of the last summit in Copenhagen, which drew 120 world leaders but failed to reach more than a vague promise by several countries to limit carbon emissions - and even that deal fell short of consensus.
But he denied to the AP that his decision to quit was a result of frustration with Copenhagen.
"Copenhagen wasn't what I had hoped it would be," he acknowledged, but the summit nonetheless prompted governments to submit plans and targets for reining in the emissions primarily blamed for global warming. "I think that's a pretty solid foundation for the global response that many are looking for," he said.
De Boer told the AP he believes talks "are on track," although it was uncertain that a full treaty could be finalized at the next high-level conference in November.
The partial agreement reached in Copenhagen, brokered by President Barack Obama, "was very significant," he said. But he acknowledged frustration that the deal was merely "noted" rather than formally adopted by all countries.
For Fox News, however, news isn't news unless it is a) conservative, and b) wrong, so they added a little language to the AP report without acknowledging that they had done so (the byline reads simply "AP"). Compare the original AP article above to this screenshot of the Fox News version (emphasis added):
Fox News' additions, of course, are little more than stale retreads of the many falsehoods that comprise the "Climate-gate scandal." And the "bombshell" they refer to is actually a distortion of climate scientist Phil Jones' interview with the BBC, in which he said that it would be unlikely to observe a statistically significant trend over a 15 year interval, which, when it comes to climate science, is a very short period of time.
In an article about Sarah Palin's critical response to the Fox comedy, Family Guy, "after the show appeared to mock Palin's Down syndrome son," FoxNews.com claimed that Palin also "recently slammed ... radio talk host Rush Limbaugh for using the word 'retard.' " In fact, Palin excused Limbaugh's remarks as "satirical."
The right-wing media narrative that the Obama administration endangered security by giving Miranda rights to alleged attempted Christmas Day bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab is falling apart. Contrary to claims based on unnamed sources in the right-wing media, Obama administration officials agree that Abdulmutallab gave valuable intelligence during his first interrogation and that Abdulmutallab has begun divulging intelligence again.
From the February 7 FoxNews.com article:
Much attention has been given to President Obama's persistent use of "I" when giving speeches to sell his administration's agenda. Is he taking responsibility -- or, as his critics say, is he still in campaign mode? FoxNews.com is tracking the president's speeches all this month and will report back after each to see whether The "I's" Have It.
In a FoxNews.com article, senior Capitol Hill producer Trish Turner repeatedly claimed that Democrats are considering using the budget reconciliation process to pass health care reform legislation, and referred to that procedure as the "nuclear option." But the reconciliation process is not the nuclear option, which refers to a procedure that would be used to change Senate rules; reconciliation requires no such rule changes and has been used many times in the past.
FoxNews.com, Fox Nation, and Gateway Pundit's Jim Hoft have cited a Mail on Sunday article suggesting that climate scientist Mojib Latif predicted a "mini ice age" over the next 20 or 30 years, with Hoft asserting that global warming is "junk science." But Latif has since challenged the Mail article's use of his research, and at the U.N. climate conference the Mail article references, Latif stated that while temperatures could "cool" temporarily "relative to the present level" due to natural climate variability, there is a clear "long-term warming trend" that is "manmade."
The following are some of the "creative" images posted on FoxNews.com's "Photo Op: The Trouble with Harry":
Fox News states that they're only "showcas[ing] the best submissions!"
Fox News spent a good portion of today running wild with the GOP talking point that the Congressional Budget Office undermined its December 19 and 20 estimates that the Senate's health care reform bill would reduce deficits by $132 billion during the first 10 years, with continued deficit reductions in the ensuing decades.
For example, FoxNews.com advanced the Republican spin under the headline, "Senators cite new budget letter to argue health care bill will hike deficit."
Problem for Fox News: The Congressional Budget Office actually reaffirmed its support for its estimate. Sen. Max Baucus noted on the Senate floor that day that he had received an email from CBO standing behind the earlier figure and explicitly stating that the memo pushed by Republicans and Fox News did not alter the earlier estimate:
BAUCUS: CBO says, CBO and the staff at the Joint Committee on Taxation estimate that the legislation would reduce the federal budget deficit by $132 billion during the ensuing period. Next, CBO expects the legislation will reduce federal budget deficits during the decade beyond 2019 relative to those projected under current law with a total effect during that decade in a broad range of one-quarter percent and one-half percent of GDP. Of course, we know that's about $650 billion to $1.3 trillion. That's CBO. Today.
From the front page of FoxNews.com at 7:04 pm ET:
The conservative media seem to be having some difficulty figuring out what to make of Sen. Ben Nelson's support for health care reform.
Here's Fox's take:
Nelson Accused of Selling Vote on Health Bill for Nebraska Pay-Off
What started as Sen. Ben Nelson's personal stand against covering abortion with taxpayer money translated, somehow, into millions of dollars in federal aid for his home state.
Critics were calling it the "cornhusker kickback" and the "Nebraska windfall," lobbing accusations of political deal-making at Nelson.
And the Weekly Standard:
Ben Nelson, Cheap Date (Cont.)
According to the CBO, Nelson got $100 million for Nebraska in Medicaid funding--20 percent of what Massachusetts got
Maybe they should huddle up and decide whether they want to attack Nelson for selling his vote for a massive windfall, or for being a "cheap date" who got far less than Massachusetts. We'll wait.
Visitors to Fox News' web page today encountered this fair and balanced headline:
What? CBO says the Senate health care bill will reduce deficits. Why does Fox News headline the opposite?
Because the CBO now says the Senate health care bill will reduce deficits by slightly less than it had previously estimated. That, once Fox News runs it through their patented Lie-O-Mator 3000, turns into "CBO: Senate Health Bill Won't Reduce Deficits."
UPDATE: Or, um ... this.
A headline posted on FoxNews.com falsely claimed, "CBO: Senate Health Bill Won't Reduce Deficits." In fact, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) concluded that the bill would reduce federal deficits by $132 billion over 2010-2019 and would continue to reduce deficits in subsequent decades.
Yesterday, we pointed out that Fox News' unofficial gay-baiter Maxim Lott had followed up on his false allegations against Department of Education official Kevin Jennings - which resulted in a humiliating retraction - with a new smear piece.
In an article headlined "Obama's Safe Schools Czar Tied to Lewd Readings for 7th Graders," Lott reported that Jennings "is under fresh attack after it was revealed that the pro-gay group he formerly headed recommends books his critics say are pornographic." Lott buried the group's disclaimer that those books recommended for grades 7-12 "contain mature themes" and the recommendation that "adults selecting books for youth review content for suitability," grossly distorted the contents of those books, and at least two of the "critics" he cited are anti-gay bigots.
In short, he did an atrocious job. But hey, if there's anything we've learned over the past months, it's that there's a market for smears of Jennings; no matter how dubious, the right-wing fever swamp will run with it.
And so, Gateway Pundit - who's been channeling Jennings smears from the anti-gay "hate group" MassResistance for the past few weeks -- quickly picked it up:
And, of course, it's currently the top story on Andrew Breitbart's BigGovernment.com:
Oh, by the way, neither Hoft nor BigGovernment are acknowledging that Lott actually debunks one of the false smears they pushed - that "fisting kits" were distributed at a 2001 GLSEN event. According to Lott, "The kit was actually for making a "dental dam" -- designed to prevent STD transmission during oral sex." Which, of course, was pretty obvious, given that the kit reportedly consisted of "a single plastic glove, a package of K-Y lubricant," and instructions titled "How to Make a Dental Dam From a Latex Glove."
Three months ago, Fox News was forced to issue a humiliating retraction of the false allegations it had leveled against Department of Education official Kevin Jennings. Now, Maxim Lott, the FoxNews.com reporter at the center of those falsehoods, has re-emerged with more smears of Jennings.
This time, in an article headlined "Obama's Safe Schools Czar Tied to Lewd Readings for 7th Graders," Lott reported that Jennings "is under fresh attack after it was revealed that the pro-gay group he formerly headed recommends books his critics say are pornographic." In the article, Lott grossly distorts the contents of books recommended by GLSEN for grades 7-12 and waits until the 13th paragraph to disclose that the list of books included the disclaimer that they "contain mature themes" and the recommendation that "adults selecting books for youth review content for suitability."
And just who are the "critics" who apparently inspired Lott's article? In short: anti-gay bigots.
There's Peter Sprigg of the Family Research Council, who last year announced his desire "to export homosexuals from the United States" -- a comment for which he later apologized (sort of). FRC's website states: "Family Research Council believes that homosexual conduct is harmful to the persons who engage in it and to society at large, and can never be affirmed. It is by definition unnatural, and as such is associated with negative physical and psychological health effects."
Lott also quoted Peter LaBarbera of American for Truth about Homosexuality. LaBarbera has explained that his attacks on Jennings are "all about homosexuality and the 'gay' activist agenda whose singular goal is to normalize homosexuality as a 'civil right.' "
The fact that Fox continues to allow Lott to report on Jennings is some of the strongest evidence yet that the network isn't a news outlet at all but is actually a right-wing political organization whose mission is to concoct dishonest, bigoted attacks with which to damage progressives and the Obama administration.
Let's revisit some of Lott's past work on the Jennings beat.
On September 30, Lott reported as fact that more 21 years ago, as a young teacher in Massachusetts, Jennings "didn't report that a 15-year-old boy told him that he was having sex with an older man."
At the time, there was substantial evidence available that Lott's claim was false. As Media Matters pointed out, a publicly available 2004 letter from Jennings' lawyer stated that the student was actually 16 years old when the conversation took place. The Massachusetts age of consent is -- and was at the time -- 16; Jennings was under no obligation to report anything. (The student later said that he "had no sexual contact with anybody at the time.")
On October 1, after reporting as fact that the student was "15," Lott apparently decided to check whether this claim was true. As Media Matters exclusively revealed, Lott sent a Facebook message to the student, asking if the "rumor" that he was 15 at the time was "accurate."
Normally, this is the sort of thing journalists ask before leveling allegations at public servants. But Lott and Fox News are apparently so obsessed with gay-baiting that accuracy has become a secondary matter that can wait until after they've run with their charges.
On October 2, two days after Lott's story ran, Media Matters published a statement from the student and a copy of his driver's license, definitively proving that he was 16 at the time of his conversation with Jennings. That same day, the student wrote to Lott and demanded a correction. Eventually, Fox added the following editor's note to the top of Lott's article: "Since this story was originally published, the former student referred to as 'Brewster' has stepped forward to reveal that he was 16 years old, not 15, at the time of the incident described in this report."
Three months later, Lott's back. And he's got a new smear.