From the May 23 edition of Fox News' America Live:
Loading the player reg...
Fox News hosts and contributors have repeatedly asserted that the Democrats are engaging in "scare tactics" to fearmonger about Rep. Paul Ryan's budget plan to reform Medicare. However, Fox News hosts have used their shows as platforms to fearmonger about the mythological "death panels" that will result from "Obamacare."
During tonight's segment of Special Report with Bret Baier, guest host Chris Wallace devoted an entire segment to Democrats' supposeduse of "scare tactics" over Paul Ryan's attempts to reform Medicare, a talking point that Fox News opinion show Fox & Friends has previously pushed. From the May 11 edition of Fox News' Special Report:
CHRIS WALLACE (guest host): Scare tactics in politics are nothing new. Entitlements such as Social Security and Medicare have long been the subject of such attacks. Tonight, chief Washington correspondent Jim Angle reports on what Republicans say is another example of Democrats saying one thing and doing another.
JIM ANGLE (Fox News correspondent): Freshman Republicans are complaining that Democrats are violating a pledge from President Obama not to demonize proposals tackling big problems such as Medicare, including the proposal from Republican Paul Ryan.
JIM ANGLE: The Ryan plan would pay premiums for private insurance to force competition for seniors instead of having the government pay for every procedure which it can no longer afford. Ryan would dedicate more money to the poor and sick, but Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius argues that it would force sick senior citizens to pay too much out of pocket. A point she made about cancer patients during recent testimony.
JIM ANGLE: Such attacks would appear to violate the President's assurances prompting 42 House freshmen to send Mr. Obama a letter urging him to quote "condemn the disingenuous attacks and work with this Congress to reform spending on entitlement programs." If the debate stays at the attack level the President himself may be vulnerable because his health care plan also puts tight limits on future Medicare spending. In Washington. Jim Angle. Fox News.
During the segment, Angle characterized Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-WI) plan to dismantle Medicare as we know it as "forc[ing] competition for seniors instead of having the government pay for every procedure, which it can no longer afford."
He also reported that Democrats claim that people would have to spend a lot more money if Ryan's plan was passed. But this is hardly an unfair "scare tactic." It is cold, hard fact.
Indeed, the Congressional Budget Office has stated that "a typical beneficiary [of Medicare] would spend more for health care under the [Ryan] proposal." The Center for Economic and Policy Research has also described the plan in the following words: "Representative Paul Ryan proposes Medicare plan under which seniors would pay most of their income for health care."
Previously, Fox News' Fox & Friends was pushing the same line that Angle was. Co-host Gretchen Carlson claimed that "there's concern about whether or not President Obama is stoking some fear in some of the comments he's been making." Later in the show, Gretchen Carlson stated: "Can the president scare the American people into his plan for saving?" After playing portions of Obama's interview with ABC News, Carlson asked, "So will fear sell you on the idea of raising taxes?"
This is a classic example of Fox's opinion and news shows using the same talking points to bash Democrats and promote Republicans.
From the May 9 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier:
Loading the player reg...
From the January 7 edition of Fox News Channel's Special Report:
Loading the player reg...
Conservative media figures have blamed the recent increases in oil and gas prices on President Obama's drilling policies. However, experts point to expectations of increased demand and other factors.
At the height of the health care reform debate last fall, Bill Sammon, Fox News' controversial Washington managing editor, sent a memo directing his network's journalists not to use the phrase "public option."
Instead, Sammon wrote, Fox's reporters should use "government option" and similar phrases -- wording that a top Republican pollster had recommended in order to turn public opinion against the Democrats' reform efforts.
Journalists on the network's flagship news program, Special Report with Bret Baier, appear to have followed Sammon's directive in reporting on health care reform that evening.
Sources familiar with the situation in Fox's Washington bureau have told Media Matters that Sammon uses his position as managing editor to "slant" Fox's supposedly neutral news coverage to the right. Sammon's "government option" email is the clearest evidence yet that Sammon is aggressively pushing Fox's reporting to the right -- in this case by issuing written orders to his staff.
As far back as March 2009, Fox personalities had sporadically referred to the "government option."
Two months prior to Sammon's 2009 memo, Republican pollster Frank Luntz appeared on Sean Hannity's August 18 Fox News program. Luntz scolded Hannity for referring to the "public option" and encouraged Hannity to use "government option" instead.
Luntz argued that "if you call it a 'public option,' the American people are split," but that "if you call it the 'government option,' the public is overwhelmingly against it." Luntz explained that the program would be "sponsored by the government" and falsely claimed that it would also be "paid for by the government."
"You know what," Hannity replied, "it's a great point, and from now on, I'm going to call it the government option."
On October 26, 2009, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced the inclusion of a public insurance option that states could opt out of in the Senate's health care bill.
That night, Special Report used "public" and "government" interchangeably when describing the public option provision.
Anchor Bret Baier referred to "a so-called public option"; the "public option"; "government-provided insurance coverage"; "this government-run insurance option"; the "healthcare public option"; and "the government-run option, the public option." Correspondent Shannon Bream referred to "a government-run public option"; "a public option"; "a government-run option"; and "the public option."
The next morning, October 27, Sammon sent an email to the staffs of Special Report, Fox News Sunday, and FoxNews.com, as well as to other reporters and producers at the network. The subject line read: "friendly reminder: let's not slip back into calling it the 'public option.' "
Sammon instructed staff to refer on air to "government-run health insurance," the "government option," "the public option, which is the government-run plan," or -- when "necessary" -- "the so-called public option":
From: Sammon, Bill
Sent: Tuesday, October 27, 2009 8:23 AM
To: 054 -FNSunday; 169 -SPECIAL REPORT; 069 -Politics; 030 -Root (FoxNews.Com); 036 -FOX.WHU; 050 -Senior Producers; 051 -Producers
Subject: friendly reminder: let's not slip back into calling it the "public option"
1) Please use the term "government-run health insurance" or, when brevity is a concern, "government option," whenever possible.
2) When it is necessary to use the term "public option" (which is, after all, firmly ensconced in the nation's lexicon), use the qualifier "so-called," as in "the so-called public option."
3) Here's another way to phrase it: "The public option, which is the government-run plan."
4) When newsmakers and sources use the term "public option" in our stories, there's not a lot we can do about it, since quotes are of course sacrosanct.
Fox's senior vice president for news, Michael Clemente, soon replied. He thanked Sammon for his email and said that he preferred Fox staffers use Sammon's third phrasing: "The public option, which is the government-run plan."
From the August 30 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier:
Loading the player reg...
Fox News' Jim Angle baselessly suggested that Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) administrator Dr. Donald Berwick wants "government bureaucrats" to make end-of-life care decisions instead of patients. In fact, Berwick has urged doctors to work with patients and families to make those decisions.
Both America's Newsroom and On the Record falsely suggested that the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said the health care reform law worsens the long-term budget outlook. In fact, CBO said that since the law reduces deficits, it slightly improves the budget outlook.
On tonight's Special Report, Fox News chief Washington correspondent Jim Angle reported on what he called "dire warnings today from the director of the Congressional Budget Office." Angle claimed that federal deficits are projected to "hit 62 percent of GDP this year, and if Congress adds to spending as it now plans to do, the deficit would climb to almost 90 percent by 2020."
That would be dire. In fact, it would be jaw-dropping.
Lest there be any doubt just how massive the deficit problem is, Fox News provided a chart:
Par for the course this week, Fox got the chart wrong. Jaw-droppingly wrong.
Consider, for a minute, that the Bureau of Economic Analysis recently pegged U.S. GDP at $14.6 trillion. Based on Angle's report, CBO predicts that the deficit will reach $9.05 trillion this year. That would be up exponentially from estimates in January.
What CBO director Doug Elmendorf actually testified was that the overall national debt might reach 62 percent of GDP this year and could reach 90 percent by 2020.
Alas, the only thing jaw-dropping here is Fox News' continued failure to create charts and graphs that are anywhere close to accurate.
Fox News' Jim Angle quoted Karl Rove criticizing energy reform legislation without noting that Rove's group, American Crossroads, recently accepted $1 million from an oil and gas executive.
On both "opinion" and "straight news" programs, Fox News has channeled the GOP talking points that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac caused the financial crisis and are "getting a free pass" because they are not overhauled by Democrats' financial regulatory reform legislation. But Fox repeatedly ignored that the Obama administration has initiated a separate effort to reform the housing finance system, including Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and have warned against moving too quickly on this front given the fragility of the housing market. Moreover, economists reject the notion that Fannie and Freddie were the root cause of the financial crisis.
As participants in today's health care summit took a lunch break, Fox News' Bret Baier brought on Jim Angle to perform what Baier described as a "fact check." But Angle's analysis came up short on a central fact that completely undermines his conclusion that health care reform will raise premiums -- namely, that the very bill Angle analyzed includes subsidies to offset premium costs.
Angle purported to fact check a back-and-forth at the summit between President Obama and Sen. Lamar Alexander about whether the Senate health care bill would increase premiums for people who buy health insurance on the individual market, rather than through their employer. Angle's bottom line: "rates would increase by 10 to 13 percent." He even repeated it to make it official:
ANGLE: Now, what the CBO -- and I can show you a chart here. CBO did a chart on what would happen to rates in individual, small-business, and large-group markets. And you see, in the non-group market -- that's the individual market. If you'll show -- the CBO found that after bringing in all sorts of people -- younger people, healthier people -- after all factors are considered, the bottom line is that rates would increase by 10 to 13 percent. Ten to 13 percent. That is what Senator Alexander was saying.
The president disputed that number, saying, "Well, no, it's a different thing." He came back after being handed a piece of paper by an aide and said, "Well, yes, in fact, the reason I'm paying 10 to 13 percent more is because I'm getting better insurance." Actually, the CBO found that that would cost 30 percent more, up to 30 percent more, but that after you take everything out, the net increase for individuals would be 10 to 13 percent. The president has now essentially embraced that number and seems to have confirmed that Senator Alexander was right; he was not -- with the one stipulation that it'd be different, better insurance, because it may be required by the federal government.
Actually, the bottom line on this topic is that the Congressional Budget Office concluded that the bill would reduce premiums for most policies purchased on the individual market. Angle only reached his "bottom line" after ignoring one of the bill's most important components -- substantial subsidies that would help many people in the individual market pay for their insurance. The CBO estimated that the federal subsidies would cover two-thirds of the premium costs and reduce premiums for most people purchasing insurance on the individual market. PolitiFact.com explained it well:
People who have to go out and buy insurance on their own (the individual market) would see rates increase by 10 to 13 percent. But more than half of those people -- 57 percent, in fact -- would be eligible for subsidies to help them pay for the insurance. People who get subsidies would see their premiums drop by more than half, according to the CBO. So most people would see their premiums stay the same or potentially drop.
The very on-screen chart Angle referred to specifically noted that the "10 to 13 percent" figure didn't take the effect of subsidies into consideration:
As we here at County Fair have said before, so much for zero tolerance.
From the December 18 edition of Fox News' Special Report:
Loading the player reg...