From the November 1 edition of Fox Broadcasting Co.'s Fox News Sunday:
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Following the October 28 CNBC Republican presidential debate, Fox News repeatedly championed the performance of Sen. Marco Rubio and his claim that Hillary Clinton "got exposed as a liar" during her Benghazi testimony for supposedly misleading the public about the cause of the Benghazi attacks. That allegation has been repeatedly debunked by journalists at numerous media outlets for disregarding the fact that intelligence was rapidly evolving in the immediate aftermath of the attacks and ignoring the possibility that "the attacks could be both an example of terrorism and influenced by outrage over the video."
After Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) dropped out of the race to be Speaker of the House, sending Republicans soul-searching, Fox News figures were quick to attribute the sudden turn-of-events to the powerful House Freedom Caucus and its Tea Party movement roots. What Fox News has chosen not to mention, however, is its own role in creating and fostering the movement that has caused such dysfunction in Washington.
From the September 24 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:
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Fox News' John Roberts hyped Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina's "scorching response" to a question about Planned Parenthood at the CNN Republican primary debate without noting that her response contained a falsehood about the deceptively-edited videos.
During the September 21 edition of Fox News' Special Report, senior national correspondent John Roberts interviewed Fiorina in a pre-recorded segment regarding her debate performance and her personal background. During the segment, Roberts said the biggest moment of the debate for her was her "scorching response to a question on Planned Parenthood," where Fiorina claimed that smear videos by the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) showed "a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking while someone says we have to keep it alive to harvest its brains." Fiorina claimed in the interview that her debate answer was "about the character of our nation" and "most people who actually have the courage to watch those tapes know that instinctively as well":
JOHN ROBERTS: While she had many moments during the debate, the biggest was her scorching response to a question on Planned Parenthood. As we walked the streets of Mackinac Island, Michigan Saturday, she told me that moment was completely unscripted.
CARLY FIORINA: I wasn't delivering a line. I hadn't prepared that line, I didn't know that question was coming. I was just speaking from the heart. I feel so strongly about that. It is about the character of our nation. And I think most people who actually have the courage to watch those tapes know that instinctively as well. It really has nothing to do with pro-life or pro-choice.
Nowhere in the interview or aired segment does Roberts note that Fiorina's claim was false. As some in the media have noted, the CMP videos did not contain such footage, and the footage Fiorina claimed was filmed at Planned Parenthood was instead added by another anti-choice group. Los Angeles Times columnist Michael Hiltzik on September 18 wrote that "[t]he news media haven't done enough to call out Fiorina's claims" about the videos.
Conservative media are claiming that President Bill Clinton enacted a policy that bans guns at military bases in the wake of the mass shooting at a military facility in Chattanooga, Tennessee. In fact, the policy was enacted in 1992 during the administration of George H.W. Bush and does allow guns to be carried on base under some circumstances.
Fox News pundits repeatedly pushed -- and then walked back -- a false narrative propagated by an anti-Islam blogger that an "ISIS-linked" Twitter account warned of the Tennessee shooting prior to the attack.
The Clinton Foundation returned to the headlines this week and once again the topic was promoted with lots of media hand-wringing. The problem is, it's not always clear journalists understand what the foundation does. At least it's not clear based on the media coverage.
The news this week came from a Wall Street Journal article reporting that once Hillary Clinton left her job as secretary of state, the Clinton Foundation lifted its ban on donations from foreign governments. The ban was reportedly first put in place at the request of the Obama administration, which wanted to alleviate any possible conflicts of interest with its new secretary of state. When Clinton became a private citizen again in 2013, the foundation once again accepted money from foreign governments.
"A spokesman for the Clinton Foundation said the charity has a need to raise money for its many projects," the Journal reported.
The Journal article stressed that some ethics experts thought it was bad form for the foundation to accept foreign donations because Hillary Clinton is expected to run for president. The following day, Republican partisans piled on, insisting Hillary herself had accepted "truckloads of cash from other countries." (She had not; the foundation had.) The Beltway press largely echoed the Republican spin and lampooned the foundation's move.
Did the original Journal article raise an interesting question? It did. If and when Hillary formally announces her candidacy, will the foundation have to revisit its position on accepting foreign government donations? It likely will. But the only way the story really worked as advertised this week was to casually conflate the Clinton Foundation, a remarkably successful global charity organization, with Hillary's looming campaign coffers, and to suggest everyone who's giving to the foundation is really giving to her presidential campaign.
In order to make that allegation stick, Jennifer Rubin at the Washington Post simply suggested there's no difference between a global charity and "a PAC or campaign entity." (That kind of changes everything.)
The only way the story gained traction, and this has been true of Clinton foundation coverage for years, was for journalists to pretend the foundation isn't actually a ground-breaking charity, in order to make vague suggestions that it's one big Clinton slush fund where money gets "funneled." ("Money, Money, Money, Money, MONEY!" was the headline for Maureen Dowd's scathing New York Times attack column about the foundation in 2013.)
In recent months, conservative media figures have undermined efforts by labor groups to organize across the United States, demonizing labor unions in the process. These anti-union attacks are largely reliant on myths alleging negative side-effects of union participation.
From the February 12 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier:
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Fox News reporter John Roberts believes the Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) bridge story has the potential to be "very damaging" because "unlike what's happened with President Obama" and the controversy in which the IRS allegedly targeted conservatives, Christie's scandal happened in his "living room."
Recently released communications have revealed that a top aide to Christie urged a top transportation official who is a high school friend of Christie to close lanes onto the George Washington Bridge as political retribution against a Democratic mayor who didn't endorse Christie's re-election bid. The lane closures caused a massive four day traffic jam. Christie announced during a press conference today that he fired the aide in question.
During an appearance today on Fox News Radio's Kilmeade & Friends prior to the press conference, Roberts said that the scandal "has the potential to be very damaging to Gov. Christie because, you know, unlike what's happened with President Obama -- you know, the IRS thing was a woman who was in Cleveland. This is in the governor's living room. This is his deputy chief of staff. And as you mentioned his best friend who he went to high school with. It's difficult for him to be able to fully separate himself from this without at least giving the appearance that he doesn't know what's going on in his own home."
He added that the scandal "reinforces the worst perceptions about Gov. Christie. It makes it look like a Tony Soprano-type of administration. And while people in New Jersey appreciate many of the things that the governor has done, on the national level, if you want to run for president, you can't look like this is the way that your administration would operate. "
On the day the scandal broke, Fox devoted significantly less coverage to the story than CNN and MSNBC. Fox's coverage should provide an indication of the network's hot and cold relationship with Christie, a potential 2016 presidential candidate who Fox News chairman Roger Ailes urged to seek the presidency in 2012 and who has previously enjoyed fawning coverage across the media.
From the August 16 edition of Fox News' Special Report:
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Defending the legal challenge to the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the resulting gutting of the law by the conservative Justices of the Supreme Court in Shelby v. Holder, right-wing media insisted voter suppression is only a problem that existed in the past and long-standing voter protections are no longer necessary. But the immediate spike in discriminatory restrictions on voting after the Shelby decision proves Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was right in her dissenting opinion and right-wing media was dead wrong.
Roughly 45 minutes into Fox News' "special" investigation into the Department of Agriculture's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, or "food stamps," per the outdated parlance), host Bret Baier posed a question that gets right to the heart of what Fox News specifically, and conservatives generally, are trying to accomplish with regard to public attitudes toward social welfare programs. "Shouldn't there be at least some stigma?" Baier asked, referring to people who accept SNAP benefits. Baier's just-asking-questions lament about the lack of stigmatization was all part of Fox News' slipshod and flagrant piece of agitprop intended to shame the needy and promote public resentment of the government safety net.
Everything about Baier's special, "The Great Food Stamp Binge" -- from the title to its absurd focus on a thoroughly unlikable miscreant named Jason Greenslate who proudly abuses SNAP benefits -- was designed to provoke hostility to the idea of nutritional assistance programs. Greenslate, a California musician who refuses to work and spends his monthly SNAP benefits on sushi and lobsters, is an anomaly in a program that has proven to be both efficient and effective. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, "fewer than 2 percent of SNAP benefits are issued to households that do not meet all of the program's eligibility requirements." The USDA estimates that just one cent of every dollar of SNAP benefits is lost to "trafficking," a type of fraud. "About three out of four SNAP households included a child, a person age 60 or older, or a disabled person," per the Congressional Budget Office.
Greenslate, who is in no way representative of the typical SNAP recipient, was the subject of two separate segments, totaling nearly nine minutes, of Fox News' hour-long special. Baier proclaimed him "the new face of food stamps."
Greenslate is "the new face of food stamps" for no other reason than Fox News wants him to be. Baier offered no data to back up this assertion, and no fact-driven justification for even including Greenslate in the report. But this freeloading oaf is an easy-to-hate villain, someone the viewer can immediately dislike and a convenient punching bag for small-government agitators. Near the program's close, Fox News reporter John Roberts, interviewing Greenslate, attempted to shame him -- and every other recipient of SNAP benefits. "It used to be that, you know, that if somebody was on food stamps it's like 'hey, they're on food stamps, you know... loser,'" said Roberts.
Fox News correspondent John Roberts ignored Sen. Ted Cruz's inaccurate claim that gun violence prevention is "unconstitutional" while guest hosting Fox News Sunday. The following morning on MSNBC's Morning Joe, host Joe Scarborough highlighted Roberts' failure to correct Cruz's extreme talking point, one that even conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia rejected in District of Columbia v. Heller.
From the January 6 edition of Fox News Sunday (via Nexis):
ROBERTS: Gun control -- you probably heard the last segment. We're talking about 10 bills introduced in the House of Representatives regarding gun control. Joe Biden is leading a study group at the White House. You are a fierce defender of Second Amendment rights. You were in like 2010, given the NRA's Freedom Fund Award.
Is there any new gun control that you would accept?
CRUZ: The reason we are discussing this is it the tragedy in Newtown. And every parent, my wife and I, we've got two girls aged 4 and aged 2 -- every parent was horrified at what happened there. To see 20 children, six adults senselessly murdered, it takes your breath away.
But within minutes, we saw politician running out and trying to exploit this tragedy, try to push their political agenda of gun control.
I do not support their gun control agenda for two reasons. Number one, it's unconstitutional.
ROBERTS: But is there that you would accept?
CRUZ: I don't think the proposals being discussed now makes sense.
Cruz's repetition of the NRA talking point on Fox News Sunday that the "gun control agenda" is "unconstitutional" was especially notable because he is a well-credentialed attorney who clerked for former Supreme Court Justice William Rehnquist. The Supreme Court has repeatedly held that "gun control" is not unconstitutional, most recently in the landmark ruling of Heller that clarified the individual right to possess firearms. In fact, Cruz's endorsement of the NRA position is not only legally incorrect, it contradicts Justice Scalia's majority opinion:
Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited. From Blackstone through the 19th-century cases, commentators and courts routinely explained that the right was not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.
[N]othing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.
We also recognize another important limitation on the right to keep and carry arms. [United States v.] Miller said, as we have explained, that the sorts of weapons protected were those "in common use at the time." We think that limitation is fairly supported by the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of "dangerous and unusual weapons.
Because Cruz, a new Republican member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is expected to know very recent and high-profile Supreme Court precedent, Fox's Roberts should have given Cruz an opportunity to correct himself on the constitutionality of "gun control." As explained by The New York Times in reference to the reports of the gun violence prevention task force recommendations that Cruz was commenting on, "[a]lthough the N.R.A. is sure to cry "Second Amendment!," the truth is that there's not a single Second-Amendment restriction in Mr. Biden's law-enforcement approved list."
Instead, that task fell to Scarborough and fellow Morning Joe regulars, who questioned how Cruz and Fox News Sunday could botch Heller without any explanation or follow-up:
SCARBOROUGH: Let me ask you a question, Mark Halperin. You know Ted Cruz, right?
MARK HALPERIN: I do.
SCARBOROUGH: A smart, gifted guy?
HALPERIN: He's a very smart man.
SCARBOROUGH: Has he ever read the Constitution, do you know?
HALPERIN: I'm certain that he has.
SCARBOROUGH: Isn't he like a lawyer, or something like that?
HALPERIN: He is, he's an esteemed lawyer, he was Solicitor General of Texas...
SCARBOROUGH: He's a Harvard Law graduate. So you think he's probably read a Supreme Court case before?
HALPERIN: I'm certain he has.
SCARBOROUGH: You think maybe he's read Heller, the Supreme Court...
SCARBOROUGH: Seminal case on the Second Amendment, on the definition of what's constitutional and unconstitutional, you think he's read that?
SCARBOROUGH: It's hard to know, but you would think he probably would, right? Because if he had...
HALPERIN: He would know?
SCARBOROUGH: He would not say that background checks are unconstitutional. Or any of the things that have been brought up are unconstitutional. Because the Supreme Court clearly and unequivocally said that Americans have a right to keep and bear arms, and that means keeping handguns in their home. That means being able to protect their families in their home. But they gave wide latitude to the government to regulate guns in every way that people determine.
I disagree with a lot of [Sen.] Dianne Feinstein's suggestions and recommendations, but background checks, the banning of military-style assault weapons, the banning of high-capacity magazine clips, it's all constitutional under Heller. It's not even a close call.