Fox News is heavily invested in turning Benghazi into the scandal that takes down Barack Obama. It's not just the dream of brutishly partisan actors like Sean Hannity, but the stated intention of Fox reporters like James Rosen, who told Bill O'Reilly that "there are certain elements...that are lacking here for this to become Watergate," among them the self-serving notion that the media -- save for Fox News -- refuse to dig into the "major scandal" that is Benghazi. The idea that media outlets have been reticent to investigate the September 2012 attack on the Benghazi diplomatic compound is laughably false. What Rosen really means is that the press aren't covering it in the way that Fox News is.
This plays into the Fox Cycle, a process Media Matters has documented by which false and misleading conservative attacks make the transition from right-wing hobbyhorse to national media narrative, with Fox News playing a key role in pressuring mainstream press outlets into covering the story. Fox has been working hard at doing just that this week with a series of segments on Special Report with Bret Baier featuring an anonymous Benghazi "insider" who purports to contradict the official account of the Benghazi attack.
Here, however, are five instances in which the "insider" describes events that actually took place, were already known, or have been debunked.
1. The presence of special forces in Croatia. Media Matters documented one such instance of Fox's confidential informant breaking news that everyone already knew -- the presence of a special operations force in Croatia. "I know for a fact that C-110 [a special ops team], the EUCOM CIF, was doing a training exercise, not in the region of Northern Africa, but in Europe. And they had the ability to react and respond," said Fox's unnamed source. Everyone knows that "for a fact" because it's been a matter of public record for months now and was included in the Pentagon's official Benghazi timeline. Then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta ordered those forces to deploy, but they could not arrive in time.
2. Deployment of those special forces. That brings up another point of contention. Fox's source claimed: "We had the ability to load out, get on birds, and fly there at a minimum stage. C-110 had the ability to be there, in my opinion, in four to six hours from their European theater to react." [emphasis added] The phrase "in my opinion" is highlighted there because that's all this is. An opinion. The State Department independent Benghazi review and outside experts have a different opinion: that there were no military assets that could have made it to Benghazi in time to make a difference. This is less a contradiction of the official account than a disagreement from a party whose identity and expertise are as yet unknown. (Former Marine officer and special operations team leader Billy Birdzell dismantled Fox's source's claims about the deployment of C-110 here.)
From the May 1 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
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From the August 20 edition of Fox News Radio's Kilmeade & Friends:
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Today, Fox News' James Rosen revived the month-old distortion of President Obama's comments about small businesses not only benefitting from their own initiative, but also from the successes and contributions of others, including government.
Reporting live on the August 17 edition of Fox's Studio B from a Virginia campaign event for Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan, Rosen said that "aides to Representative Ryan like to call Virginia the scene of 'the line.'" Rosen added that "the line" reference derived from Obama's "now-famous comment in Roanoke, Virginia, last month ... when he told small business owners, quote, 'if you have a small business, you didn't build that'":
Of course, President Obama's comments take on an entirely different meaning in their full context. During his July 13 Roanoke speech, Obama simply pointed out that the success of small businesses can also be attributed to outside influences such as "a great teacher somewhere in your life" and investment "in roads and bridges":
OBAMA: [L]ook, if you've been successful, you didn't get there on your own. You didn't get there on your own. I'm always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something -- there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there.
If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you've got a business -- you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn't get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.
The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together. There are some things, just like fighting fires, we don't do on our own. I mean, imagine if everybody had their own fire service. That would be a hard way to organize fighting fires.
So we say to ourselves, ever since the founding of this country, you know what, there are some things we do better together. That's how we funded the GI Bill. That's how we created the middle class. That's how we built the Golden Gate Bridge or the Hoover Dam. That's how we invented the Internet. That's how we sent a man to the moon. We rise or fall together as one nation and as one people, and that's the reason I'm running for President -- because I still believe in that idea. You're not on your own, we're in this together.
Fox News is obscuring the negative impact of Congressman Paul Ryan's Medicare plan on seniors by accusing President Obama and the Democrats of "stoking fears" about the plan. In fact, Ryan's plan would adversely affect current and future seniors, forcing them, among other things, to pay more for prescription drugs, and it would create a voucher system that would drive up health care costs.
From the August 11 special edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier:
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Fox's chief Washington correspondent James Rosen hyped a Washington Free Beacon report alleging the Obama campaign employed call centers in Canada and the Philippines. But neither the Fox segment nor the Free Beacon article provided any substantial evidence to support such a claim.
The Obama campaign has been attacking Mitt Romney for his history of moving jobs overseas as a businessman at Bain Capital. After mentioning these reports on Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier, Rosen touted the Beacon's claims, stating: "The Romney campaign, in turn, circulated a report in the Washington Free Beacon" which Rosen uncritically said "found the Obama-Biden campaign has paid companies headquartered in Canada and the Philippines more than $80,000 for telemarketing services."
However, ABC reporter Devin Dwyer pointed out that "the Beacon's claims are not fully substantiated" after looking at the actual facts. Dwyer first explained that Pacific East is based in Canada but has a division headquarters in Oregon. He went on to explain that the FEC filings provided no indication as to which Pacific East call centers were used by the Obama campaign or where they may have been based:
Closer examination of the facts, however, finds the Beacon's claims are not fully substantiated.
First, Pacific East, while based in Canada, has a division headquartered Beaverton, Ore., to oversee U.S. business operations. There is also no indication from FEC filings of where Pacific East call centers possibly employed by Obama's campaign may have been based. The Beacon does not cite any evidence.
Dwyer then said that the Beacon "points to expenditures in the Obama campaign's most recent Federal Election Commission filing that showed" money spent on telemarketing services from "the Los Angeles-based Donor Services Group (DSG)." Dwyer found that the Beacon's reporting on DSG also lacks convincing evidence:
As for DSG, the picture is much the same. The U.S.-based company specializes in call centers and donor outreach, according to its website. However, there is no mention of foreign operations there, or in FEC filings.
So where does "Manila" come from?
The bit appears in a 2009 services contract between DSG and a Maryland charity (Foundation Fighting Blindness, Inc.) that was obtained and posted by the Weekly Standard. The document outlines four different types of DSG call centers -- one of which was based in Manila "to make inexpensive calls designed to reinstate older lapsed donors more affordably."
It's unclear whether those call centers still exist or whether the Obama campaign benefited from their services. The FEC filing, again, shows no direct evidence to support the Beacon's claim that Team Obama "paid a call center in Manila."
Appearing on C-Span to discuss the 40th anniversary of the 2 a.m. break-in at the Democratic National Committee's headquarters at the Watergate office complex, Fox News' chief Washington correspondent James Rosen on Sunday seemed to go out of his way to downplay the sprawling political scandal it spawned. That scandal eventually culminated in President's Nixon's resignation.
Rosen, for instance, described Nixon as someone who was in over his head in terms of keeping track of the Watergate cover-up and the long list of players involved. Conversely, the Fox reporter tried to shift the blame onto Nixon's former aide John Dean as the person who may have "ordered" the break-in. (Dean famously turned on Nixon during his Watergate testimony before Congress.)
During his C-Span appearance, Rosen, who has written a book about John Mitchell, who was chairman of Nixon's reelection campaign at the time of the break-in after serving as his attorney general, repeatedly lashed at out Dean, accusing him of "muddying the waters of history" with regards to Watergate.
But if anyone was mudding the waters it was Rosen, who offered this startling response when asked about how Watergate had effected the American political landscape [emphasis added]:
I would say we are a more cynical nation since Watergate. We have less trust in our institutions, including the news media.
It's also the case that the Internet has occurred, has arisen, since Watergate. A number of other things; 9-11, which put Watergate in its perspective.
I think the idea of Fred LaRue skulking around Washington with a manila envelope full of recycled one hundred dollar bills sounds rather petty when juxtaposed to the incineration of three thousand people on a Tuesday morning, as we saw on 9-11.
So history continues to unfold and give us new perspective on Watergate and what its effects on the American political landscape were.
This is a bizarre, and nonsensical, way to view history.
Reporting on emails selectively released by House Republicans, numerous media outlets falsely claimed the documents show Obama donor George Kaiser -- whose family foundation invested in Solyndra -- discussing Solyndra's federal loan with the White House, with Fox going even further to claim "quid pro quo." In fact, the emails occurred after Solyndra had already received the loan guarantee and do not indicate that Kaiser discussed the loan with the White House.
As part of its week-long special targeting government regulations, Fox's "straight news" program, Special Report with Bret Baier, listed "jobs regulations" that supposedly "adversely impact ... small business owners in a real-time way." However, the regulations listed by Fox include vital statutes that are the bedrock of 20th and 21st Century worker protections in the United States.
Conservative media have baselessly claimed that President Obama's policies are to blame for a new Census Report finding an increase in poverty in the United States. In fact, the Census Bureau itself states that unemployment benefits -- extended under the Obama administration -- helped limit the number of people in poverty, and experts concur that without "extend[ed] unemployment compensation, stimulus spending and Obama's health reforms," the poverty levels would have been worse.
In a series of segments called 10 Ways to Save the Economy, Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier promoted conservative talking points on the financial crisis, stimulus package, estate tax, and deregulation. The segments also frequently echoed the viewpoint of Fox News' conservative opinion programming. None of the ten segments advocated measures favored by progressives to help the economy.
From the July 1 edition of Fox News' Special Report:
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From the January 26 edition of Fox News' Happening Now:
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In the context of the Arizona shooting, Fox News is now citing President Obama's call following the shooting at Fort Hood in 2009 to avoid "jumping to conclusions" about the causes behind the attack. However, following the Fort Hood shooting, Fox personalities immediately called for profiling of Muslims and attacked Obama.