Fox News' Gretchen Carlson continued to push a misleading report on IRS communication with the Department of Justice while failing to acknowledge that a previous "bombshell" claim she had made about the report had been corrected.
On the April 16 edition of Fox News' The Real Story, Carlson hyped a Townhall.com report by Fox contributor Katie Pavlich that incorrectly claimed IRS official Lois Lerner "contacted the Department of Justice" to ask about possible criminal investigation of tax-exempt groups. Echoing the report, Carlson asserted that "bombshell emails" show "Lerner contacted her bosses at the IRS and the Department of Justice in May 2013 asking about whether tax-exempt groups could be criminally prosecuted for lying about political activity":
Carlson failed to note that at the time of her broadcast, Pavlich's report had been updated and corrected to note that it was the Department of Justice, not Lerner, who initiated contact:
Editors note/correction: A previous version of this post stated and implied Lois Lerner contacted the DOJ about criminal prosecution when the emails state she in fact got a phone call from DOJ about the issue. While she was clearly in contact with DOJ about criminal prosecution for tax exempt groups, DOJ initiated the contact in this specific instance. Emails also show Lerner and Flax responded to both recommendations by Senator Whitehouse and DOJ to look into criminal prosecution. The headline to this post has also been updated.
Carlson again discussed the emails during the April 17 edition of The Real Story, noting that she "first reported them here on the show yesterday," but she failed to correct her false claim from the day before that Lerner "contacted" the Department of Justice. Carlson also failed to mention that the emails show Lerner's concern that criminal prosecutions of tax-exempt groups that misrepresent their political activity is "not realistic under current law":
In the five years since President Obama's health care reform plan -- which became the Affordable Care Act (ACA) -- was first introduced, the right-wing media has waged a continuous campaign to attack the law through misinformation, deception, and outright lies.
From the April 2 edition of Fox News' The Real Story:
Loading the player reg...
Fox News treated itself to a victory lap after several Senate Democrats joined with the Republican conference and blocked the nomination of civil rights litigator Debo Adegbile, President Obama's highly-qualified pick to head the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice (DOJ).
On March 5, the Senate procedural vote that would have allowed a confirmation vote on Adegbile's nomination failed, after right-wing media spent months lying about his background with racially charged attacks, even publishing an offensive caricature of Adegbile that was condemned by the nation's leading civil rights groups for invoking "the racist iconography of late 19th century America designed to dehumanize and stereotype African Americans." Outlets like Fox News continued to distort Adegbile's record in the run-up to the vote despite these denouncements, and despite the fact that Adegbile is a mainstream nominee who is regarded as one of the preeminent civil rights experts of his generation by a wide spectrum of authorities, including law enforcement executives and the American Bar Association.
After the vote, Fox host Bret Baier was quick to suggest that Senate Democrats who voted in favor of Adegbile could pay a penalty in the upcoming midterm elections. Baier went on to spread further misinformation about the nominee, falsely insinuating that he was part of an effort to overturn a murderer's conviction:
Multiple Rupert Murdoch-owned media outlets, including the New York Post, Fox News, and The Wall Street Journal, have launched false attacks against New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio's record on charter schools to paint him as waging a "war on children" and "poor kids," all while ignoring the benefits of de Blasio's push for universal pre-K in the city.
The attacks on de Blasio from Murdoch's media came in response to the announcement on February 27 that he blocked three New York City charter schools from using public school space rent-free. News Corp. head Rupert Murdoch himself kicked off the attacks with two incendiary tweets on February 27, asking how "de Blasio [can] do this" the same day President Obama unveiled his initiative for young boys and men of color, and falsely claiming that de Blasio's move "hurts poor families who only want a better school for their kids."
On Fox News, On The Record host Greta Van Susteren claimed the next day that "New York City democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio, he just declared war on children," calling him "selfish, really selfish" and accusing him of "picking on the poor kids," asking, "Who could be that rotten?" On the March 3 edition of Fox & Friends, Fox correspondent Charles Gasparino accused "comrade Bill" of wanting "essentially to end charter schools." Later that day, The Real Story host Gretchen Carlson said that de Blasio "ax[ed] three planned charter schools," asking one of her guests, "Why is this an outrage in your mind that Mayor de Blasio is going to strip kids from going to charter schools?"
In print, the New York Post likened de Blasio's charter school move to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's Bridgegate scandal (in which the governor's office engaged in political retribution), calling it "Chartergate" and writing that "de Blasio is taking good schools away from disadvantaged minority children to get back at his enemy." The Wall Street Journal editorial board called for Education Secretary Arne Duncan to defend the closed schools, claiming, "National Democrats are silent as Bill de Blasio kills charter schools."
But the facts tell a different story. According to The New York Times, de Blasio said "he would block three charter schools from using space inside New York City public school buildings." The Times explained that "[i]n reviewing 49 proposals to share school space approved under [former New York City Mayor] Mr. Bloomberg, he left untouched a majority of plans affecting charter schools." He did not "end" them or "kill" them or wage "war," as Murdoch and his media outlets claim. Furthermore, city officials told the Times that some of the plans, which were approved by Bloomberg, "would have required elementary school students to attend class inside high school buildings, and others would have required cutting programs for students with disabilities."
What right-wing media conveniently ignore in characterizations of de Blasio as picking on "poor kids" is his push for universal pre-K in New York City, which would mean greater early education access for every child regardless of their income status. The New York Times reported last week that de Blasio estimated "up to 29,000 [pre-K] seats could be opened at schools and so-called community based organizations" using his plan to fund pre-K through a higher state income tax. And as Washington Post columnist Katrina vanden Heuvel pointed out in January, de Blasio's plan "reflects growing evidence ... that high-quality, universal access to pre-K can make a significant difference in the lives of children, especially those from low-income families."
Don't expect to get the facts from Rupert Murdoch's media outlets any time soon -- their history of inflated rhetoric about de Blasio ensures his education plans will continue getting the fact-free right-wing treatment.
Conservative media are latching on to the climate change denial of Patrick Moore, who has masqueraded as a co-founder of Greenpeace. But Moore has been a spokesman for nuclear power and fossil fuel-intensive industries for more than 20 years, and his denial of climate change -- without any expertise in the matter -- is nothing new.
After months of championing business owners who discriminated against gay customers, Fox News showed further signs of whiplash celebrating Republican Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer's veto of a pro-discrimination bill as a sign that the GOP is "growing the tent," despite the party's continued and overwhelming opposition to marriage equality and basic nondiscrimination protections.
During the February 27 edition of The Real Story with Gretchen Carlson, Carlson sat down with Democratic strategist Bernard Whitman and Fox contributor Tony Sayegh to discuss Brewer's veto of the measure, which would have allowed individuals and businesses to refuse to serve gay people on religious grounds.
Carlson heralded the veto as a sign of a changing GOP, while Sayegh asserted it was yet another instance of the GOP "stepping up to the plate, consistently defending an individual's right to be free in this country":
SAYEGH: The significance for [Brewer], though, is this is someone who's often been found to be on the extreme right. So the fact that she even realizes - and I'd add Mitt Romney's name, John McCain, Sen. Flake, the other Arizona senator - that the most core principle of the Republican Party is liberty and freedom. She preserved that by doing what she did.
CARLSON: Since you bring that up, it's interesting to note - does this mean that the Republican Party is growing a bigger tent, so to speak? Just last week we were discussing that at CPAC, the conservative convention coming up in a couple of weeks, that they invited GOProud, a gay organization, to be a part of it. Is this significant, Bernard, that maybe the Republican Party is growing the tent?
Fox News has spent the last several months championing anti-gay business owners who refuse to serve gay customers - depicting efforts to prevent discrimination as threats to religious liberty. Now, with several states debating bills that would legalize homophobic discrimination in business and employment, Fox News is now defending the extreme, anti-gay segregation policies it helped to create.
The push to legalize anti-gay discrimination first came to public attention on February 12, when the Kansas House of Representatives passed a bill authorizing individuals and businesses to refuse any services "related to, or related to the celebration of" any union - effectively allowing blanket protection for the denial of services to gay couples. After a storm of negative publicity, the State Senate has shelved the bill.
Similar bills have recently died in Idaho, South Dakota, and Tennessee, but the Arizona legislature has sent its own license to discriminate measure to Republican Gov. Jan Brewer's desk.
The wave of anti-gay segregation measures is the culmination of a concerted right-wing strategy, bolstered by Fox News, to cast anti-gay discrimination as an integral part of religious freedom.
Long before the public outcry over Kansas' license to discriminate bill, Fox threw its weight behind businesses whose owners refuse, ostensibly on religious grounds, to serve gay and lesbian couples - precisely the form of discrimination that conservative state legislators have sought to legalize.
As part of Fox's continued conflation of homophobia and Christianity, the network has repeatedly defended discrimination by anti-gay business owners as an essential part of religious liberty.
On December 10, Fox & Friends hosted Colorado baker Jack Phillips and his extremist Alliance Defending Freedom-affiliated attorney to discuss a court ruling that Phillips had violated the state's anti-discrimination law by refusing to serve a same-sex couple. The segment featured a graphic proclaiming "The Death Of Free Enterprise," while co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck asked Phillips why he thought he shouldn't have to discard his "personal religious beliefs just to make a buck."
Fox News resurrected former President George W. Bush's failed health care plan as a possible GOP alternative to the Affordable Care Act, seven years after it was proposed in his 2007 State of the Union Address and experts concluded it favored the rich and only insured a small number of Americans.
A February 18 Politico Magazine article titled "Bushcare" by Edward Lazear, the former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under George W. Bush claimed the former president "found the solution to America's healthcare crisis seven years ago." Lazear wrote Bush's plan was revenue-neutral and would actually net tax payers money for buying insurance, but the plan would not cover the very poor (emphasis added):
The large majority of those who currently have health care would enjoy a net decrease in the cost of their plans through the tax deduction, Treasury found. Many without insurance would be able to obtain it and get a tax rebate that would exceed the cost of the policy, netting money on the deal. And the substantial number of Americans whose policies are not provided by an employer would enjoy a big gain.
The Bush plan works primarily for those who earn income and pay some tax, be it payroll or income. To the extent that subsidies to the very poor, especially those not working, are needed, provisions can be added to the plan that would assist those individuals without altering its basic structure. Of course, since the U.S. economy has changed in the past seven years, the plan would have to be updated too, but this could be done without significantly changing its overall fiscal footprint.
The next day on Fox News' The Real Story, host Gretchen Carlson allowed Lazear an open platform to highlight his alternative to the Affordable Care Act (ACA or Obamacare). During the segment, Lazear pointed out two major problems with the health care system today: the number of uninsured Americans and the problems with third party payment. He explained:
LAZEAR: We have third party payers. That means that the individuals, the decision makers - the physicians and the patients don't bear the costs of their actions. So what happens is, once you have insurance or if you're on state funds for your health care, you essentially get those services for free and as a result you tend to take too many of those services.
Carlson: So what you are saying is that people know they have the health care coverage, so they tend to over use the system.
But Lazear's rosy depiction of Bush's proposal leaves out many of the key problems, namely that it would do little to help lower income Americans get affordable insurance. The CBO reported that Bush's plan would actually only insure 6.8 million Americans without health insurance and added that "those gaining insurance coverage under the President's proposal would have higher income, on average." The Washington Post's Sarah Kliff pointed out that the Bush's proposal would not be revenue neutral and would actually work to benefit "higher-earning Americans who have a higher marginal tax rate" (emphasis added):
[T]he Congressional Budget Office did score a similar proposal from President George W. Bush in 2007. His plan included a $15,000 standardized tax deduction for health insurance coverage, and the CBO estimated that 6.8 million people would gain coverage. The tax deduction would, on average, cover about 70 percent of the premium's cost.
The CBO noted, back then, that using tax deductions, which reduce taxable income, would likely make this a more desirable benefit for higher-earning Americans who have a higher marginal tax rate.
"Compared with people who would be uninsured in 2010 under current law, those gaining insurance coverage under the President's proposal would have higher income, on average," the agency wrote. "The reason is that the value of the new deduction would be greater at higher marginal tax rates, which are associated with higher incomes. Nonetheless, the majority of newly insured people would come from lower-middle- and middle-income households."
Budget-wise, the CBO projected that the Bush proposal would cost $33 billion over a decade.
Fox News baselessly stoked fears that undocumented immigrants would be able to vote if they received identification cards in New York City.
Mayor Bill de Blasio gave his first State of the City address on February 10, in which he announced a plan to offer identification cards to all residents, regardless of their immigration status.
On the February 12 edition of Fox's The Real Story, host Gretchen Carlson reported on de Blasio's announcement and falsely suggested that the plan is intended to permit undocumented immigrants to vote. She asked guest Emily Tisch Sussman:
CARLSON: So, Emily, am I to assume that the reason that de Blasio would want this is so that people can move on to vote? I mean, I don't really understand -- what do you think his whole effort is in this?
SUSSMAN: We do really see that having these either ID cards or driver's licenses for the undocumented, does actually promote public safety. You know, those who are involved in fatal car crashes, one in five have not gone through the proper training of a driver's license, it would bring them into that kind of system. It would have more economic security for those. It would have better trust with the police -- it really does bring them in in a number of ways.
Fox News responded to the announcement that CVS would no longer sell cigarettes by criticizing the pharmacy chain and leveling attacks at President Obama after he expressed support for the company's decision.
On February 5, CVS Caremark announced that it would stop selling cigarettes and other tobacco products at its pharmacy stores by the beginning of October. The move was met with praise from health organizations like the American Cancer Society and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the nation's largest philanthropy dedicated to public health. President Obama also weighed in on the decision with a statement of support, saying it was a "profoundly positive" move and will help advance efforts "to reduce tobacco-related deaths, cancer, and heart disease, as well as bring down health care costs."
As if on cue, Fox News responded to Obama's praise by manufacturing a controversy over the CVS decision.
On Fox's The Real Story, host Gretchen Carlson approached the CVS decision with suspicion and a remarkably uninformed premise, asking, "Is it OK legally ... to restrict tobacco availability in a private store like this?" She questioned her guests as to whether they would continue shopping at CVS and observed that, "For people who smoke, you know, they have a right to buy cigarettes. It's not illegal."
Fox host Gretchen Carlson appeared perplexed that the chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) addressed reporters at a press conference, though the CEA chairman spoke to the press on multiple occasions during George W. Bush's presidency.
On February 4, CEA Chairman Jason Furman briefed the press on a recent report by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) on the Affordable Care Act. On her show The Real Story, Gretchen Carlson covered the news conference, saying several times that Furman's briefing was an "unusual" occurrence:
CARLSON: Very unusual to have this right now, an explainer going on to reporters, no doubt to try to get out in front of the bad news about what Obamacare apparently does for jobs right here in America.
After months of denying and ignoring the persistent problem of anti-LGBT discrimination in the workplace, Fox News displayed a newfound concern for employment discrimination - against religious conservatives.
On the February 4 edition of The Real Story, Fox host Gretchen Carlson hosted a "faith panel" consisting of Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, the 700 Club's Wendy Griffith, and American Atheists' Amanda Knief to discuss a new report from the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation showing a correlation between religious freedom and economic performance. The panel delved into matters of religious views in the workplace, with Carlson suggesting that in the U.S., Christianity is no longer "allowed always as it was in the past":
CARLSON: Many people in the United States feel like in recent years in, there's been some sort of - well, that Christianity hasn't been allowed always as it was in the past, and that there seems to be some sort of attack on it, whether you believe that or not.
The Religious Freedom & Business Foundation doesn't link to the report on its website, although a summary in the Deseret News indicates that the report merely finds a correlation between improved economic outcomes and the loosening of religious restrictions, as in post-Maoist China. There's nothing in the summary pertaining to alleged religious discrimination in the U.S., of which Carlson didn't cite a single example.
Carlson's purported concern for workplace bias is noteworthy, given that it comes after Fox News has long been silent on anti-LGBT employment discrimination - a real, existing problem - or portrayed legislative efforts to combat it as a threat to religious liberty. After the historic Senate passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) in November, Fox News devoted a grand total of 19 seconds of coverage to the vote.
From the February 4 edition of Fox News' The Real Story with Gretchen Carlson:
Loading the player reg...
Not all elementary school children should get a free lunch.
That's how it appears on Fox News, anyway, which found sympathy for children whose school lunches were confiscated because parents had not added sufficient funds to their school accounts. The network wondered why the school could not give students the meals for free, a stark reversal from its attack on free lunches for low-income students as part of an "entitlement nation."
Fox's The Real Story devoted a segment on January 30 to the plight of elementary school children in Salt Lake City who saw their school lunches confiscated and thrown away, due to outstanding balances on their school lunch accounts. Host Gretchen Carlson expressed disbelief that "this really happened," wondering "what would the harm have been" in giving to the children the lunch for free "because they were going in the trash anyway."