Fox News' misleading attacks on President Obama's health care law reached new heights in the week preceding the opening of insurance exchanges under the Affordable Care Act Fox figures also pressured Republican politicians to defund or repeal the law, even at the expense of shutting down the federal government.
Fox News hosts Sean Hannity and Andrea Tantaros argued that if House Republicans refuse to raise the debt ceiling, the resulting default is nothing to be afraid of because, according to Tantaros, the country needs "to feel a little bit of pain."
Congress is currently facing a fast-approaching deadline to increase the nation's borrowing authority and approve funding to run the government beyond September 30. Failure to raise the nation's debt ceiling would cause the U.S. government to default on its legal obligations by the middle of October.
Thus far, House Republicans have indicated they are unwilling to raise the debt ceiling unless Democrats acquiesce to a slew of demands, including, as The New York Times explained, "a one-year delay of the [Affordable Care Act], a tax overhaul and a broad rollback of environmental regulations."
Fox News has spent this week downplaying the urgency of the upcoming deadline. But two Fox hosts have now taken it further, arguing that failure to raise the debt ceiling wouldn't be so bad and endorsing the resulting default.
On the September 26 edition of Hannity, host Sean Hannity and The Five co-hosts Bob Beckel and Andrea Tantaros discussed whether Republicans would ultimately agree to raise the debt ceiling. When Beckel argued that the Republicans' gambit was too risky because it "puts the full faith and credit of the United States currency in jeopardy," Tantaros disagreed:
TANTAROS: We hear this every time, that a default would be terrible. And it would be. But what's the alternative? To keep spending? That would be terrible as well ... There's part of me, Sean, that does want us to feel a little bit of pain.
Hannity shrugged off Beckel's concern that a US default could "wreck the monetary system of the world":
HANNITY: You know what Bob, I think you overstate -- It sounds a little bit like sequestration. Predictions of doom and gloom, and none of it ever happened. The world isn't collapsing ... I'm really not that afraid of it. It may be naivety.
It would be catastrophic for the United States to follow the Fox hosts' logic and default on our debt. If the debt ceiling is not lifted by October 17, the United States government will be unable to finance the payment of its pre-existing expenses through the continued sale of Treasury bonds. Economists across the board agree this would send the global markets into chaos and send interest rates skyrocketing. Domestically, money for government employees, the military, Social Security, Medicare, food safety inspections, and much, much more could cease or be delayed.
Following a 21 hour fake filibuster by Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), right-wing media figures were quick to praise the effort as "genius." Fox host Sean Hannity opened his September 25 show, Hannity, with an over-the-top montage of Sen. Cruz's filibuster alongside images of Gadsden flags, American flags, trains, and Americans getting their hair cut, while conservative radio host Bill Cunningham compared Cruz to Davy Crockett, James Bowie, and John Wayne:
After previously being called out for making sexist comments to Fox News contributor Tamara Holder, conservative radio host Bill Cunningham was invited back on opposite her on Hannity, where he once again made inappropriate remarks.
On Thursday September 19, Cunningham questioned Holder's ability to do "math," and then proceeded to tell her that she doesn't "look like a Catholic girl," but rather a "Farrah Fawcett wannabe." This followed a Fox News daytime show calling out Cunningham in June for not being "civil" when he told Holder, "Know your role and shut your mouth." Holder asked, "My role as a woman?" And Cunningham agreed, "Yeah. Yeah." Cunningham later asked Holder while berating her, "What are you going to cry?"
Cunningham's comments aren't out of character for Hannity, a show that regularly features sexist commentary:
From the September 19 edition of Fox News' Hannity:
Loading the player reg...
From the September 9 edition of Fox News' Hannity:
Loading the player reg...
After calling on President Obama to consult Congress over military action in Syria, Fox host Sean Hannity questioned Obama's motives after announcing he would seek congressional approval.
On the August 27 edition of his show, Hannity disagreed with conservative pundit Ann Coulter that Obama should act unilaterally in response to Syria's apparent use of chemical weapons. After Coulter commented "I don't think that the president does have to go to Congress to bomb someone" because "he's the commander-in-chief under the Constitution," Hannity disagreed, saying that "Congress declares war":
On August 31, Obama announced that he would ask for congressional approval before authorizing missile strikes in Syria. After the announcement, Hannity attacked Obama anyway, asking his guest Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) "Why now? Is he trying to push the blame if this goes wrong onto you guys in the House and Senate?"
From the August 29 edition of Fox News' Hannity:
Loading the player reg...
On August 26, Fox News hosts repeatedly demanded that the Obama administration make a statement about the shooting of Christopher Lane, an Australian student attending college in Oklahoma, ignoring the fact that days earlier Obama had offered words of comfort to the student's family.
America's Newsroom co-host Martha MacCallum falsely claimed that Obama "so far has been silent" on the alleged murder of Lane and noted that, since Obama previously "put himself into the middle of these situations" by speaking on the shooting of Trayvon Martin, "it raises the question of why he would not, you know, comfort this family, why he would not reach out and make a comment."
Later, on Fox News' Hannity, host Sean Hannity again falsely accused Obama of promoting a "double standard" for being "quick to respond" to Martin's death but failing to speak out about Lane's shooting in the 10 days since the alleged murder had occurred.
But Obama reached out to Lane's family days before either MacCallum or Hannity's criticisms. On August 24, the Australian newspaper Herald Sun reported that Obama, through White House spokesman Matt Lehrich, had released a statement offering his condolences:
As news of the random shooting death continued to make headlines in the US, the President took time out from a tour selling his college reforms to make a statement about the tragedy.
He said through White House spokesman Matt Lehrich that Lane's family and friends were going through trying times.
"As the President has expressed on too many tragic occasions, there is an extra measure of evil in an act of violence that cuts a young life short. The President and First Lady's thoughts and prayers are with Chris Lane's family and friends in these trying times," Mr Lehrich said in a statement to the Sunday Herald Sun.
A spokesman for Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin said that "[t]he governor thinks the president did the right thing by reaching out to the Lane family and the people of Australia." Obama's words followed an August 22 tribute to "honor the strength and bravery of Chris' family as they deal with this unspeakable tragedy" from the U.S. Ambassador to Australia Jeffrey Bleich, who stated:
Like everyone else, we are struggling to understand how anybody could commit such a terrible and random act of violence. I've personally pledged to Chris' family our help in bringing Chris home as soon as possible, and to provide them with all the support within our power. We thank local law enforcement authorities in Oklahoma for their quick work and their efforts to bring those responsible to justice.
Fox News has previously attempted to frame Lane as a white equivalent to Trayvon Martin, using the incident in its ongoing campaign to hype "race-related crime" -- even after local District Attorney Jason Hicks told Fox that there was no evidence of racial motivations in the case.
Fox News launched an aggressive campaign to smear a California law that would protect transgender public school students from discrimination. And because the network's coverage of the law lacked commentary from experts or actual transgender people, Fox's commentators were able to manufacture wild horror stories based largely on transphobic misinformation.
On August 12, California Governor Jerry Brown (D) signed a law that would prohibit public schools from barring transgender students access to school facilities and athletic teams that correspond to their gender identity. In the days before and after the bill was signed into law, Fox News commentators peddled a number of baseless attacks on the measure:
Fox's fear mongering was based on several flawed right-wing talking points about the law, including the claim that male students would pretend to be transgender to sneak into the girls' bathroom and the assertion that students are too young to understand gender identity issues.
In response to a new ad that cites the death of Trayvon Martin to encourage states to end Stand Your Ground (SYG) laws, Fox's Hannity claimed the laws actually benefit black Americans more than any other race. The falsehood, first pushed by the conservative blog The Daily Caller, ignores the fact that homicides with black victims are disproportionately found to be justified in SYG states, as well as SYG's impact on states' homicide rates.
From the August 21 edition of Fox News' Hannity:
Loading the player reg...
During its first day on the air, Al Jazeera America gave climate change nearly half as much coverage as network news programs did during the year 2012, all while avoiding common pitfalls like providing false balance to those that deny the science and leaving the crisis' manmade origins ambiguous.
The fledgling network's first climate report comprised the entirety of Tuesday's edition of Inside Story, a half-hour news discussion program that promises to "take an in-depth look at the story behind the headlines." Indeed, the inaugural show featured a meaningful dialogue on -- in guest Heidi Cullen's words -- "coming to terms with the fact that we're all part of the problem ... [and] the solution" to manmade global warming, and discussed consequences like extreme weather and rising sea levels. It never wavered on the veracity of the issue:
Al Jazeera America's 30 minutes of climate coverage (about 24 minutes not including commercial breaks) represented nearly half of what was seen on all network nightly news programs in 2012, and more than what was featured by CNN's Erin Burnett OutFront and Anderson Cooper 360 and Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor and Hannity combined in the past four and a half months:
While the network's early attention to climate change is a breath of fresh air, it may not qualify as a surprise. After all, network heads promised serious, in-depth reporting with "less opinion, less yelling and fewer celebrity sightings," and commentators have held out hope for a new source of solid TV journalism ever since the sale of Current TV was finalized early this year.
Bottom line: this was a great start. But just as encouraging as what Al Jazeera America discussed last night -- climate change -- is the list of things it didn't do:
Perhaps most significantly, Inside Story explored public opinion on climate science, and even presented differing views on climate policy, without once offering marginal contrarian viewpoints as a "counterbalance." Ehab Al Shihabi, Al Jazeera America's acting chief executive, has cited PBS as a model, and it showed. Other cable news channels have sometimes run afoul of this standard.
From the August 20 edition of Fox News' Hannity:
Loading the player reg...
After much public spectacle and uncountable hours wasted, the reelection of Barack Obama kindled a small, wonderful hope that maybe we were done talking about birth certificates and presidential eligibility. Unfortunately, that discussion has now engulfed Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX): U.S. citizen, presumed presidential aspirant, and accidental Canadian. A few fringe actors have questioned whether Cruz is eligible to occupy the White House, and Fox News' Sean Hannity, who countenanced the high-profile conservative/Republican birther crusade to force Obama to release his birth certificate, is outraged.
Cruz was born in Calgary 42 years ago to an American mother and a Cuban father. The Constitution requires that the president be a "natural-born citizen," though it does not define the term and the Supreme Court has never specifically defined it either. But Cruz has been a U.S. citizen since birth and there's no real reason to think he can't run for president should he so choose and hold that office if elected. Being born in Alberta, however, means that Cruz is, or was a some point, also a citizen of Canada. Presumably seeking to nip the eligibility question in the bud, Cruz released his birth certificate on August 18 and announced that he would renounce any formal ties he still retains to our northern neighbor.
Hannity said during his August 19 Fox program that Cruz's actions "put this so-called controversy to rest," and went on to attack "the left" for "flirting with birtherism," asking whether it means liberals are "racist against a Hispanic":