The recent Arctic chill has given Fox News an excuse to give "skeptics" a platform to deny climate change and bash climate science. But the network has been remiss to discuss the topic during periods of record heat.
During their coverage of cold weather from January 2 to January 8, Fox News brought up climate change nine times, casting doubt on it every single time. They also devoted a significant amount of coverage to a ship getting stuck in Antarctic ice to mock climate change during this period. But this strongly contrasts Fox News' coverage of extreme heat events, in which the network is typically silent on the topic of global warming. A previous Media Matters analysis found that, in a parallel week-long time period in 2011, Fox News did not mention climate change once while reporting on an unusually intense heat wave. And throughout the entire month of July 2012, which was the hottest month on record for the United States, the network discussed climate change in the heat wave's context once -- in order to deny it.
Meanwhile, MSNBC primarily featured the anti-scientific "skeptic" claims to dismiss them in its five segments on the topic. CNN meteorologist Chad Meyers rebutted the "skeptic" claims in one segment, but in CNN's only other segment on the topic, the network portrayed the science of global warming as up for a "debate" by non-scientists. As MSNBC's Al Sharpton put it, "It's times like these that you want a scientist around to explain things" -- he brought on Bill Nye "The Science Guy" to make the case:
From the January 9 edition of Fox News' Hannity:
Loading the player reg...
From the January 9 edition of Fox News' Hannity:
Loading the player reg...
From the January 8 edition of Fox News' Hannity:
Loading the player reg...
House GOP leaders reportedly distributed a memo instructing members on how to demonstrate compassion when discussing unemployment. And even as news of the memo leaked, conservative media were demeaning unemployed Americans as "lazy" and calling "hunger" a superior policy to jobless benefits.
Fox News' Eric Bolling and Ben Carson denied the positive effects of the Affordable Care Act(ACA)on slowing the rise of health care cost growth in recent years, despite economists crediting the law for partly being responsible.
A December 18 New York Times report explained that health care spending "is growing at the slowest pace ever recorded":
Nationally, spending on health care is growing at the slowest pace ever recorded. Annual spending on health care often grew more than 10 percent a year during the 1970s and '80s. Growth dipped in the 1990s, only to rise again, but starting in the early 2000s, the rate began falling. It is now just about 4 percent a year.
During the January 2 edition of Hannity, Bolling claimed that the ACA hasn't helped slow down health care costs, and denied that the rate of growth has even slowed:
BOLLING: Obamacare hasn't done a thing for the cost of health care. It hasn't done a thing. It has done something for the cost of health insurance, but not a darn thing for health care. Health care costs aren't slowing down, they are still rising.
Earlier, Fox contributor Ben Carson also denied the role of Obamacare's impact on slowing health care costs. Appearing on Fox's On The Record, Carson noted that health care costs began slowing during the recession, claiming that this proves Obamacare played no role in controlling health care costs.
But these claims ignore what economists have said about the ACA's role in slowing down the rise in health care costs. A November 20 report from the White House's Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) explained that the recession is not the only cause of the slowdown in rising health care costs, and detailed how the health care reform law is contributing:
The ACA is contributing to the recent slow growth in health care prices and spending and is improving quality of care: ACA provisions that reduce Medicare overpayments to private insurers and medical providers are contributing to the recent slow growth in health care prices and spending. Other ACA reforms are reducing hospital readmission rates (see figure below) and increasing provider participation in payment models designed to promote efficient, high-quality care.
Intriguingly, recent economic research suggests that the ACA's reforms to Medicare may have "spillover effects" that reduce costs and improve quality system-wide, not just in Medicare. Accounting for "spillover effects" of the ACA's reductions in Medicare overpayments suggests that the ACA has reduced health care price inflation by 0.5 percent per year since 2010, which represents a substantial fraction of the recent slowdown in health care price growth.
Other economists, such as Paul Krugman, Dean Baker, and MIT's Jonathan Gruber, agreed with the CEA's assessment that the ACA is partially responsible for the slowdown in health care costs.
Additionally, an article published on December 26 in The New England Journal of Medicine, which examined the slowing growth in health care costs, recommended that the cost control provisions in the ACA should continue to be implemented:
A central finding of our analysis is that, regardless of what happens to cost trends, current spending is far higher than needed, and it demands continued efforts at cost control, including implementation of new ACA provisions. In recent months, many independent groups have put forth cost-control ideas that build on the health reform law and suggest common strategies that should be pursued to improve efficiency in the health system.
Media Matters looks back at the best of the worst of right-wing media's treatment of women in 2013.
Fox News host Geraldo Rivera defended Alec Baldwin's use of an anti-gay epithet against a photographer, claiming that calling somebody a "cocksucking faggot" isn't actually a homophobic slur.
During the December 19 edition of Fox News' Hannity, host Sean Hannity criticized A&E for its decision to place Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson on indefinite hiatus following anti-gay remarks Robertson made during an interview with GQ.
Rivera compared Robertson's critics to the "fundamentalist gay activists" who criticized Alec Baldwin, who lost his show on MSNBC amid controversy after being recorded allegedly calling a photographer a "cocksucking faggot."
When panelist Rachel Sklar pointed out that Baldwin has a "history of making these homophobic slurs," Rivera shot back, stating that Baldwin's comments didn't constitute a "homophobic slur" because such comments were "commonplace" when he was growing up:
SKLAR: When I heard about what Alec Baldwin - Alec Baldwin had a history of making these homophobic slurs.
RIVERA: That wasn't a homophobic slur.
SKLAR: Okay --
RIVERA: I mean if you grew up where we grew up --
SKYLAR: And yet he is no longer on the network, right?
RIVERA: Sean, Baldwin and I all grew up within ten miles of each other and when we were growing up, in my year especially, those comments were commonplace.
SKLAR: Things have changed, Geraldo.
RIVERA: You have to give people some slack.
Earlier in the day, on Fox & Friends, Rivera criticized A&E's decision to suspend Robertson as "political correctness that's gotten malignant."
At what point will Fox News stop conflating anti-gay bigotry and Christian religious belief?
Phil Robertson, one of the stars of A&E's Duck Dynasty, has been put on indefinite hiatus by the network following criticism of a number of anti-gay and racist remarks he made in an interview with GQ. In the interview, Robertson refers to homosexuality as a "sin," comparing it to bestiality and calling gay sex illogical:
"It seems like, to me, a vagina--as a man--would be more desirable than a man's anus. That's just me.I'm just thinking: There's more there! She's got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I'm saying? But hey, sin: It's not logical, my man. It's just not logical."
"Everything is blurred on what's right and what's wrong," he says. "Sin becomes fine."
What, in your mind, is sinful?
"Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men," he says. Then he paraphrases Corinthians: "Don't be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers--they won't inherit the kingdom of God. Don't deceive yourself. It's not right."
In the aftermath of his anti-gay comments, several Fox News employees have rushed to Robertson's defense, depicting him as a run-of-the-mill Christian who espoused mainstream Christian theology. Host Sean Hannity described Robertson's comments as "old fashioned traditional Christian sentiment and values." Fox reporter Todd Starnes claimed his comments reflected "the teachings of the Bible." And Fox Business' Dennis Kneale claimed Robertson had just "stated his religious beliefs."
But not everyone at Fox News is so quick to accept Robertson's anti-gay comments as what they believe to be basic Christian dogma. During the December 18 edition of Hannity, Fox News analyst Peter Johnson Jr. seemed hesitant to describe Robertson's remarks as "religious," saying, "I wouldn't accept that that's a religious view":
Fox News host Sean Hannity relied on a discredited right-wing organization that fabricated a story about a transgender student harassing her peers in a school restroom, attacking proper facilities access for transgender students as a "violation of privacy."
The rabidly anti-LGBT Pacific Justice Institute (PJI) gained notoriety earlier this year after it was caught manufacturing a story about a transgender student in Colorado who PJI claimed was harassing other students in her school's bathrooms. That story ended up being entirely fabricated - the school district's Superintendent stated that no instances of actual harassment had been reported. PJI scrambled to save face, claiming that the "harassment" it referenced actually amounted to nothing more than a few parents and students feeling uncomfortable by the mere presence of a transgender student.
PJI's history of lying about the case didn't stop Hannity from promoting the group's work during the December 18 edition of his show, including airing a PJI-produced video featuring testimony from parents and students from the Colorado school who were bothered by the transgender student's existence. Hannity called the video "pretty powerful" and asked if letting transgender students use the bathroom of their choice was a "violation of privacy":
Many schools have already implemented policies similar to the one in Colorado, and California passed a law this summer granting transgender students proper facility access. Schools that have instituted such policies haven't reported any instances of misconduct and state that they've experienced "nothing but positive results." Experts state that allowing transgender individuals access to facilities that match their gender identity is essential to affirming their identities and removing the stigma all too often attached to trans people.
This isn't the first time Hannity's program has featured fear-stoking arguments against transgender rights. In August, he blasted California's new law, asking, "What do we do with the seven-year-old girl that goes into the locker room and there's the 14-year-old boy naked in the girls' locker room because that's where he chooses to be?" Fox itself has assailed the law repeatedly, with host Bill O'Reilly calling it "the biggest con in the world," further contributing to the network's transphobia problem. The network's willingness to tout a group that has lied in order to smear transgender students marks a new low.
On the December 16 edition of Fox News' Hannity:
Loading the player reg...
Fox News' Sean Hannity falsely claimed that a background check occurs on every gun sale in America to attack an ad that calls for action on gun violence in memory of the December 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
The December 10 edition of Hannity included a segment on a new ad called "No More Silence" from gun violence prevention groups Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and Mayors Against Illegal Guns (MAIG). The ad depicts a moment of silence for victims of the Newtown tragedy while also advocating for action to be taken on gun violence to prevent future tragedies. Asking if the ad was "politicizing tragedy," Hannity made a number of false claims about gun violence during the segment:
After American Values Institute Executive Director Alexis McGill Johnson said that action on gun violence would include reforms so that "every gun sold has a background check," Hannity replied, "We already have that." (Both MAIG and Moms Demand Action make expanding checks a major component of their advocacy.)
In fact, a significant number of firearms are sold without background checks through so-called private sales, often at gun shows or over the Internet. Gun shows and websites that specialize in private sales have been linked to illegal trafficking operations, both narcoterrorismand international terrorism, and serve as conduits for individuals who would fail a background check because they are prohibited by law from owning a gun. Indeed, research has shown that a large percentage of criminals obtain firearms through private transactions.
Fox News continued its campaign against undocumented immigrants getting an affordable college education, railing against a lawsuit in Georgia that asks the state's universities to grant in-state tuition to immigrants who are considered lawfully present under the deferred action program. To make its case, Fox cited the fallacy that their parents don't pay taxes, and argued that this was an issue "of fairness."
It's indisputable fact however that at least three-quarters of undocumented immigrants pay federal taxes and an even larger number pay state and local taxes. Moreover, reports show that the notion that undocumented students are somehow cheating Americans out of a college education is untrue.
As the Associated Press reported on December 5, a group of undocumented students in Georgia filed a lawsuit against the state's university system stating that they should be granted in-state tuition as they are now lawfully present under the Obama administration's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. According to the Department of Homeland Security:
An individual who has received deferred action is authorized by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to be present in the United States, and is therefore considered by DHS to be lawfully present during the period deferred action is in effect.
Discussing the lawsuit on Fox News' Hannity, host Sean Hannity dismissed Five co-host Bob Beckel's argument that undocumented immigrants have a right to an affordable college education, replying: "So laws don't matter in Obama-Beckel's world." Five co-host Andrea Tantaros added that she's "very sensitive to the immigrant community" because her father was an immigrant and that "you do feel sorry for the children that were brought here." She went on to say: "However, their parents, Sean, have not been paying taxes. They have not been on the books. Their parents broke the law. It's a crime." She concluded: "It's an issue of fairness."
In fact, the federal government has estimated that about three-quarters of undocumented immigrants pay billions of dollars in federal payroll taxes each year. In a 2010 study, the Brookings Institution found that the "consensus of the economics literature is that the taxes paid by immigrants and their descendants exceed the benefits they receive--that on balance they are a net positive for the federal budget."
A New York Times article highlighted positive stories of people gaining coverage from the Affordable Care Act's exchanges -- a departure from the media's history of ignoring the law's success stories in favor of overwhelmingly negative coverage.
The media has overwhelmingly turned to negative anecdotal stories in covering the implementation of the ACA's exchanges. In The American Prospect, Paul Waldman argued that the media's tendency to use negative "exemplars" in health care coverage dramatically overemphasizes negative consequences of the law, often employing misleading reporting in order to manufacture "victims" of the law:
As the Affordable Care Act approaches full implementation, we're seeing a lot of exemplar stories, and I've been noticing one particular type: the story of the person who seems to be getting screwed. If it were true that most Americans were indeed being made worse off by the law, that would be a good thing; we'd learn their stories and get a sense of the human cost of the law. The trouble is that in the real world, there are many more people being helped by the law than hurt by it, and even those who claim to be hurt by it aren't being hurt at all.
Journalists have a natural inclination to cover bad news over good and to be skeptical of the government, which is usually healthy. But if you aren't careful it can also lead to misleading reporting. If you're going to do a story presenting one person as a victim of the law, it might be a good idea to make sure they are what you say they are.
Waldman cited a report from the NBC Nightly News as an example of how the media's coverage of health care consequences can be misleading. The segment highlighted a Los Angeles real estate agent whose premiums were higher after her insurer cancelled her plan and she looked for replacement coverage on the exchange. Waldman pointed out that the segment left out crucial context, such as whether she was eligible for subsidies and what level of coverage her current plan provided. A CBS News segment had similar problems, interviewing a woman named Dianne Barrette who lost her existing coverage and found replacement plans to be much more expensive. The Washington Post's Erik Wemple criticized the report, pointing out that Barrette's current plan was "a pray-that-you-don't-really-get-sick 'plan'" and "could well have bankrupted her."
Fox News' Sean Hannity faced criticism after hosting three couples who professed to be "victims" of the health care law. After Eric Stern, a former senior adviser to Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer, contacted the three couples after the show aired, he found that none of them had actually been negatively impacted by the law or had even attempted to shop for coverage on the exchanges that they were complaining about:
Since the show's debut on October 7 and through November 29, Fox News' The Kelly File has hosted conservatives significantly more often than progressives and has surpassed even Fox's Hannity in its divide between guests on the left and right.