Fox News continued right-wing media attempts to dismiss the voices of the families of the Newtown, CT shooting victims, discounting their efforts to encourage Congress to pass stronger gun laws by suggesting that President Obama is "engineering them for political purposes" and "outright manipulating them."
Since the December 14 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, which left 26 people dead, family members of the victims have taken an outspoken role in pushing for tougher gun laws.
Following the tragedy, many of the families traveled to Hartford, Connecticut to help push for a tougher new state-level gun law that Gov. Dannel Malloy (D) recently signed into law. After Republican senators threatened to filibuster gun reform legislation, more than 30 families of Newtown victims released a statement criticizing the lawmakers. The families have also been lobbying lawmakers on Capitol Hill to push for new gun measures. The lobbying efforts of these families for stronger gun laws have been ongoing and effective.
This has led to an attempt by right-wing media figures to marginalize the Newtown families as little more than "props" being used by Obama and Democrats to strengthen gun laws. On April 9, Fox News White House reporter Ed Henry said the president "used the victims of the Newtown tragedy to make their case." That same day, Fox News host Mike Huckabee suggested that Obama bringing the families to Washington, DC on Air Force One to allow them to make their case for stronger gun laws was "an exploitation of those parents."
On April 10, Fox News host Sean Hannity accused Obama of "once again using families of tragedy as props for his agenda." On his April 11 radio program, Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade claimed that Obama was "using the Newtown families." On April 12, Rush Limbaugh accused Democrats of using the Newtown parents as "human shields."
Then, during the April 15 edition of America's Newsroom, guest co-host Gregg Jarrett continued the effort to marginalize the Newtown families, saying they are "still very, very emotionally vulnerable" and suggesting the president is "engineering them for political purposes" and is "outright manipulating them into taking a stand on a vital constitutional right." Jarrett also asked if the president is "exploiting this tragedy and the grieving families for political purposes."
Despite these efforts to paint the Newtown families as merely political props being exploited by Democrats and the president, the families have continued to push for stronger gun laws. On April 14, Francine Wheeler, the mother of a 6-year-old killed in the shooting, gave Obama's weekly address, in which she urged the Senate to pass gun reform legislation.
Fox News buried Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal's (R) decision to back down on his plan to eliminate the state's income tax, praising the now-dead proposal just days after Jindal acknowledged Louisianans reject the scheme.
While the network has not covered* Jindal's April 8 speech rescinding the proposal, Fox News' America's Newsroom dedicated a segment on April 10 to the idea of repealing Louisiana's income tax. Before introducing Stephen Moore of the Wall Street Journal editorial board, guest host Gregg Jarrett framed the topic, saying: "Creating jobs and helping put more money in your wallet--the state of Louisiana wants to scrap its state income taxes." As Jarrett continued, Fox displayed a graphical summary of the plan Jindal withdrew two days earlier:
In his speech to state lawmakers, Jindal explained his decision to withdraw that plan as a recognition of fierce opposition to it. From The Times-Picayune:
The speech is a major concession that Jindal's proposal, a complicated plan contained in a total of 11 bills, is unpopular both within and outside the Legislature. The proposal has come under increasingly heavy fire in recent weeks as business groups and advocates for the poor have assailed its effects and think tanks have questioned whether the math in the proposal adds up.
Jindal acknowledges the strong opposition to the proposal in his prepared remarks.
"I realize that some of you think I haven't been listening. But you'll be surprised to learn I have been," according to the text of the speech. "And here is what I've heard from you and from the people of Louisiana -- yes, we do want to get rid of the income tax, but governor you're moving too fast and we aren't sure that your plan is the best way to do it.
"So I've thought about that. And it certainly wasn't the reaction I was hoping to hear. And now I'm going to give you my response and it's not the response people are accustomed to hearing from politicians.
"Here is my response: 'Ok, I hear you,' " according to the text of the speech. "So I am going to park my tax plan."
The governor went on to request that lawmakers write an income tax repeal bill of their own, and his administration has reportedly signaled interest in repealing the income tax even without any accompanying plan to make up the lost revenue.
Numerous major news outlets reported on Jindal's speech as both a setback for his political career and a victory for the poor. MaddowBlog's Steve Benen noticed this is the second such rebuke Jindal's suffered so far this year, after his plan to end hospice care for Medicaid beneficiaries went down in the face of stiff criticism. But on Fox, Jarrett and Moore didn't just ignore Jindal's reversal. They praised Jindal's stillborn plan as a near-heroic effort to boost economic growth in his state. "The real story here is that Bobby Jindal is trying to take on the special interests in Louisiana, trying to make the case that Louisiana could be a really high-flying state if they could get rid of their income tax," Moore said.
Beyond their attempt to recast Jindal's efforts in a more positive light, Moore and Jarrett continued Fox's pattern of misrepresenting the relationship between state income taxes and growth. Fox had previously ignored the regressive nature of Jindal's plan, and the April 10 segment featured the false claim that eliminating income taxes boosts state economic growth. Media Matters has previously shown Moore's work on that subject to be dishonest, and as the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has shown, cuts in state income taxes are correlated with weaker economic growth except in oil-rich states. Furthermore, the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy reported in February that the nine states with no income tax have shown substantially weaker economic growth than those with high income taxes.
*A review of transcripts found that no Fox News Channel shows covered the Louisiana governor's speech from April 8. Fox Business's Stuart Varney interviewed Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform about Jindal's reversal on the April 9 edition of Varney & Co.
Fox News deceptively edited a clip of Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to make it seem as though she had not anticipated how complex implementation of President Obama's health care law would be when, in fact, Sebelius was pointing to the problems created by relentless political opposition to the bill.
On America's Newsroom, guest host Gregg Jarrett played a portion of Sebelius' appearance at the Harvard School of Public Health. Jarrett introduced the clip by claiming Sebelius "admitted there's been a lot of confusion associated with the rollout." Jarrett then played a portion of the clip in which Sebelius said, "There was some hope that once the Supreme Court ruled in July, and then once an election occurred, there would be a sense of, 'this is the law of the land, let's get on board, let's make this work,' and yet we find ourselves still having sort of state-by-state political battles."
After the clip, Jarrett responded by saying, "She underestimated its complexity. Well, my goodness, the law is 2,700 pages long with more than 15,000 pages of [regulations]. What does she expect?"
But Jarrett's interpretation of Sebelius' appearance is based on deceptive editing. Sebelius wasn't complaining about the bill's length or complexity -- she was explaining that political opposition to the law has made implementation more difficult. Fox began the clip after Sebelius pointed out that "politics has been relentless and continuous." In the portion after Fox's edited verision (comments begin around 13:30), Sebelius went on to explain that states which have expressed consistent opposition to the law make it more difficult to implement the law and explain benefits to health care consumers. In Sebelius' comments below, the portion aired by Fox is in bold:
Fox News is now acknowledging that Tesla Motors is a "success story," but only a year ago the network declared the company "failed." This distortion played into its attempts to boost then-presidential nominee Mitt Romney's claim that President Barack Obama only "pick[s] the losers."
Discussing the Obama administration's investments in green technology, Fox News anchor Gregg Jarrett recently stated that Tesla is a "success story," and Fox Business anchor Lou Dobbs acknowledged on Monday night that it is one of the "winners." Tesla recently announced that it made a profit in the first quarter of 2013 after exceeding sales goals for its electric sedan, and the company plans on paying back its Department of Energy loan guarantee five years early.
But an oft-aired Fox News graphic previously listed Tesla as "failed," a claim that Romney later echoed. In fact, several of the companies that Fox News declared "failed" are still successfully operating (circled in green), and contributing to technological advances that could help us transition to a clean energy economy, as can be seen in this interactive graphic created with ThingLink:
The companies circled in yellow did not actually receive any funds from the loan guarantee programs, instead receiving either grants, tax credits, or no federal funds at all. Nevada Geothermal Power's project, at far left and not circled in the graphic above, is still operating and part of the 87 percent of loan guarantee funds under the 1705 program awarded to projects that experts say pose almost no risk to the taxpayer. By lumping all of these programs together from the more than 1,460 companies that have received such awards, Fox News was able to paint a distorted picture of the Obama administration's energy policies.
In the wake of Michigan passing a so-called "right-to-work" law, which significantly weakens the ability of unions to bargain on behalf of workers, right-wing media pushed numerous myths about the anti-union policy.
From the December 11 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom:
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Right-wing media figures are claiming that President Obama failed to answer a press conference question about whether he had issued an order to protect those under attack at the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11. But Obama did respond to the question, saying that he ordered his national security team to do whatever was necessary to keep Americans at the compound safe.
Fox News' Gregg Jarrett suggested that Rep. Paul Ryan offered specifics on his and Romney's tax plan during an interview with Fox. In fact, when pressed for specifics during that interview, Ryan dodged, claiming that the plan is "revenue neutral" without offering details as to why.
On Happening Now, Brad Woodhouse, communications director for the Democratic National Committee, called on Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan to "lay out a specific plan" for tax reform. Guest co-host Gregg Jarrett then said he wanted to "clarify" that in a recent interview Ryan "twice said that (his tax plan) was revenue neutral. The math, that means, is zero." Jarrett added, "He was asked about the math, he twice said revenue neutral. That's zero, that's a digit, that's the math."
Jarrett was referring to an appearance by Ryan on Fox News Sunday, in which host Chris Wallace pressed the Wisconsin congressman for specifics about how the numbers in the Romney-Ryan tax plan add up. After Ryan denied a charge from the Obama campaign that the plan would cost "$5 trillion over 10 years" if rates are cut 20 percent for everyone, Wallace asked the congressman how much the plan would cost. Ryan responded: "It's revenue neutral. It doesn't cost $5 trillion dollars."
Wallace again asked Ryan how much his plan would cost, and again Ryan responded: "It's revenue neutral."
Contrary to Jarrett's claim, Ryan's response that the Romney-Ryan tax plan is "revenue neutral" is not "the math." Ryan insisted that the plan is "revenue neutral," but he didn't specify how he would make his cuts "revenue neutral" beyond vague talk of eliminating deductions and loopholes. For Jarrett to suggest that Ryan offered specifics is dishonest.
Of course, there is good reason for not telling the American people how the Romney-Ryan tax plan would be made revenue neutral. As nonpartisan, independent analysts have shown, fulfilling the requirements of the tax plan and keeping it revenue neutral would necessitate a large increase in how much middle-class Americans pay in taxes every year.
Fox News misrepresented Mitt Romney's statement that supporters of President Obama are the 47 percent of Americans who "pay no income tax" and "believe that they are victims."
Fox claimed that Romney was actually talking "about our country becoming an entitlement society and too dependent on government," and presented polling showing that most Americans agree with him.
But Romney's 47 percent remark was not simply an argument that Americans are becoming "too dependent on the government," as Fox anchor Gregg Jarrett and the poll claimed. Romney disparaged Obama supporters, saying:
ROMNEY: There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that's an entitlement. And the government should give it to them.
Romney also declared: "My job is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives."
But on Happening Now, Jarrett and his guest Steve Hayes hyped the findings of a Fox News poll that asked respondents if they agreed with "what Mitt Romney said on the tape about our country becoming an entitlement society and too dependent on government." Jarrett claimed that 63 percent of Americans think Romney is right. Jarrett's guest Steve Hayes said that while Romney "made an argument that had some problems with it," it is "indisputable" that Romney's "broader case is true."
Fox has defended Romney's comments since they were first revealed, but it seems clear the only way the network can get Americans to buy into its defense of the comments is by mischaracterizing them.
Fox's Gregg Jarrett used a report produced by Obama's economic advisers to claim Obama had promised unemployment "would now be 5.6 percent"; but the report was produced before the release of data showing the recession was much worse than previously estimated. Jarrett and his guest Art Laffer also suggested Obama's policies have acted as an economic "depressant" rather than "a stimulus," but there is broad agreement among economists that the stimulus helped boost GDP and lower unemployment.
Fox News stoked fears of terrorism and distorted the facts surrounding the 9-11 attacks to slam the Obama administration's deferred action decision, with anchor Gregg Jarrett suggesting that President Obama "is making it easier for acts of terrorism to be committed." Jarrett and guest Brad Blakeman, a Republican strategist and former Bush White House official, used the 9-11 hijackers as examples for what could possibly happen if undocumented youths are allowed to obtain driver's licenses under the plan.
Not only is it demeaning to compare undocumented youth who have grown up in the United States to the 9-11 hijackers; it's also ridiculous knowing the facts surrounding 9-11.
On June 15, the Obama administration announced an immigration plan that will give eligible undocumented youth a chance to avoid deportation and obtain a legal work permit. The program went into effect on Wednesday. Depending on the state, some undocumented youths will also be able to acquire driver's licenses and Social Security cards.
On America's Newsroom this morning, Jarrett and Blakeman seized on the possibility of undocumented youths obtaining state driver's licenses to link the youths to the 9-11 hijackers and fearmonger about the potential for more terrorist attacks. Blakeman asserted that the hijackers "used driver's licenses" to "get on planes," and that they did so while here illegally.
Picking up the theme, Jarrett then said to Blakeman:
JARRETT: California, for example, is now using the president's executive decision on deferred status to give people who are here illegally a driver's license. Now the 9-11 hijackers, many of whom were here illegally as well, obtained state licenses using them to board the airplanes. Could one argue, Brad, that the president is making it easier for acts of terrorism to be committed? Do you worry about that?
In fact, at the time of the attacks, only two of the 19 hijackers were in violation of their immigration status for overstaying their visas, and none would have qualified under the deferred action program. The 9-11 hijackers entered the country legally on non-immigrant visas.
As part of its campaign to stoke fears of widespread voter fraud, Fox is ginning up outrage that voter registration forms have been sent to dead people, dogs, and cats, with the apparent implication that those dogs and cats might vote and alter the outcome of the 2012 election.
The target of Fox's latest attack is the Voter Participation Center (VPC), a nonprofit group that uses mass mailings of voter registration applications in an effort to reach the 24 percent of Americans who are eligible to vote, but not registered. Recently, the center acknowledged that some mailings were addressed to ineligible voters, including deceased citizens and even pets, because of faulty commercial mailing lists.
While this is several steps away from actual voter fraud -- a virtually nonexistent problem in U.S. elections -- Fox News worried that these applications were raising "growing fears on election fraud." On today's broadcast of America Live, host Megyn Kelly claimed:
KELLY: Growing fears on election fraud today, as folks across the country get pre-filled-out voter registration forms. You know where they say, like, here, this is you, Megyn Kelly, this is where you show up to vote. But they don't have your name on it. They have the name of your dead pet. Or dead relative. Or your live pet. Either way, it's problematic. Because your pet -- your pet shouldn't be on there. The documents look official, but it turns out they are not coming from election administrators, but from a nonprofit group, and that's causing some controversy.
Fox's America's Newsroom teased a story about the VPC registration forms by saying that there are "new concerns about voter fraud ahead of the November elections." The subsequent segment was identified as part of Fox News' "Voter Fraud Watch:"
But sending out inaccurately addressed voter registration forms is not voter fraud.
Fox's supposed news anchors are really looking forward to the Republican National Convention and its roster of "eloquent," "bold" and "very charismatic" speakers.
This morning, America's Newsroom reported on the news that, following the selection of Rep. Paul Ryan as Romney's VP choice, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie had been tapped as the keynote speaker for the RNC.
Co-host Martha MacCallum explained that "another big name in the VP mix," Florida Senator Marco Rubio, would be introducing Romney at the event. The presence of Rubio, Christie, and Ryan at the convention made sense to MacCallum because they represented the "bold choice candidates" for vice president.
Sounding more like an Entertainment Tonight host than a news anchor, co-host Gregg Jarrett explained that "Christie never fails to charge up the crowd, and Marco Rubio is quite eloquent out on the stump, if you've ever watched him deliver a speech. He really knows how to connect with the audience. Very charismatic."
After Jarrett described the speakers as "probably good choices for the GOP," MacCallum exclaimed, "It's going to be very exciting!"
From the August 13 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom:
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From the August 13 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom:
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