Conservative media outlets pushed at least eleven misleading attacks on President Obama's energy policies that have become talking points used by Mitt Romney's campaign. The conservative media bubble has largely prevented voters from hearing the facts about clean energy programs, fossil fuel production and environmental regulation under the Obama administration.
Fox News repeated the conservative myth that there is an emerging "culture of dependency" and a "culture of entitlement" because of the supposed notion that people would rather collect food stamp benefits than work. In fact, most beneficiaries of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) are working-class Americans who already have jobs, and most leave the program after one year.
Salon's Alex Pareene made a good observation yesterday about the future of Wall Street Journal opinion-slinger Gordon Crovitz's 100-percent incorrect claim that government was not involved in the creation of the internet:
I am very confident that "The Government Had Nothing To Do With Inventing The Internet That Is a Liberal Lie" will become one of those wonderful myths that all true-believer conservatives subscribe to, like "FDR and the New Deal made the Depression worse" and "Reagan Was a Good President."
It's true; the conservative canon is littered with verifiably false claims masquerading as unshakeable truths -- in some cases, as foundational principles. Other examples include "global warming is a hoax" and "tax cuts increase revenue." Most of them have been around for so long that their origins are murky, but we have the benefit of being able to observe this particular untruth move through the conservative ecosystem. It's sort of like watching evolution happen! (If evolution were real and not another hoax, that is.)
Fox News pundits have repeatedly claimed that fracking poses no risk to water supplies, even though there are several documented cases where extraction of shale gas and activities related to fracking have contaminated water. Watch how their blanket denials of risk contrast with real news reports on the damage natural gas extraction has done to water supplies:
Oil and gas companies are currently extracting natural gas at a record levels by drilling horizontally and then using a process called hydraulic fracturing (often called fracking), which involves injecting large amounts of water along with sand and chemicals at a high pressure in order to crack open shale rock and release the gas.
Many experts say the part of the process that has most often contaminated water is the first: drilling. A peer-reviewed study by Duke University researchers published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found methane levels were 17 times higher in water wells close to areas in Pennsylvania and New York where shale gas was being extracted, and linked the type of methane to shale-gas extraction. The researchers said that the contamination "likely was due to its escape from faulty drill casings," according to the Christian Science Monitor. Industry officials have admitted that poor drilling practices have contaminated water, and the Environmental Defense Fund's Scott Anderson estimated that one in ten wells have cement failures. Yet drilling is often under-regulated. In December 2009, ProPublica reported that "One in five states don't require that the concrete casing used to contain wells be tested before hydraulic fracturing," and a ProPublica investigation found that states experiencing booms in oil and gas production have not hired enough regulators to keep up.
Fox Business host John Stossel mocked efforts to end discrimination in the health care insurance market, claiming "discrimination is what insurance is about." Appearing on Fox & Friends, Stossel called the individual mandate "the least of" his issues with the health care reform law, citing "the rule against discrimination" as a worse aspect of the law.
One of the more popular aspects of the Affordable Care Act is a provision prohibiting health care insurance companies from denying coverage to individuals with pre-existing conditions. Recent polling shows that 85 percent of Americans support the pre-existing condition measures in the law. But those are exactly the ones that the pro-discrimination crusader Stossel is fighting against.
Stossel claimed ending discrimination based on pre-existing conditions is tantamount to saying "Lindsay Lohan and I should pay the same car insurance premium" and that the regulations promoting more universal coverage "intuitively feels right to people, but then it's not insurance. They might as well just call it one more welfare program."
Stossel has a long history of advocating for inequality and promoting discrimination. He has attacked Title IX, which mandates that schools and colleges that receive federal funds provide the same opportunities for girls as boys; he has downplayed the growing income inequality between the rich and poor; he has defended employers' right to discriminate against the unemployed; and even called for repeal of parts of the Civil Rights Act that ended racial discrimination in employment.
Natural gas can help the U.S. transition away from reliance on coal in the near-term if it is produced responsibly. But conservative media have dismissed the risks involved with the rapid spread of natural gas extraction to push for deregulation, attack the Obama administration, and ignore the need for a comprehensive energy policy to transition to renewable energy.
From the June 14 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends First:
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Fox's John Stossel claimed that it's a "myth" that "the poor are getting poorer" and that they are actually getting "richer." In fact, incomes for the bottom fifth have shown almost no growth in recent decades, and the numbers Stossel used to support his argument were cherry-picked.
Following relentless attacks on the solar industry in the wake of Solyndra's bankruptcy, wind power has become the latest target of the right-wing campaign against renewable energy. But contrary to the myths propagated by the conservative media, wind power is safe, increasingly affordable, and has the potential to significantly reduce pollution and U.S. reliance on fossil fuels.
From the May 24 edition of Fox Business' Stossel:
From the May 17 edition of Fox News' Stossel:
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Ahead of today's release of the annual Social Security trustees' report, Trudy Lieberman of the Columbia Journalism Review reviewed the failures of the mainstream media in its coverage of Social Security. As Lieberman wrote, "[M]uch of the press has reported only one side of this story using 'facts' that are misleading or flat-out wrong while ignoring others."
A great example of the media's unwillingness to accurately report on Social Security came when Texas Gov. Rick Perry described the program as a "Ponzi scheme." Most coverage of the incident focused either on its political fallout or presented the issue in a "he said-she said" style -- ignoring the false nature of the "Ponzi" attack.
Social Security is not a Ponzi scheme. People who call it a Ponzi scheme are not "wrong but partially right," they're not "called wrong by critics" -- they're just wrong.
A Ponzi scheme is a criminal endeavor that involves opaque financial dealings that promise investment returns when none or next to none actually exist. Social Security's finances are crystal clear, and the interest generated by its trust fund is quite real.
A Ponzi scheme eventually collapses. According to last year's report, Social Security can continue as it is, paying full benefits for nearly 25 years, and 77 percent of promised benefits thereafter.
During coverage of Perry's claims, the Los Angeles Times wrote that "[s]upporters of Social Security argue that the program is a general benefit," while "[o]pponents, like Perry, see the program as a robbing of one generation to pay for the older one, a type of cheat akin to a Ponzi scheme." At no point did the article acknowledge that the "Ponzi scheme" attack was incorrect.
Meanwhile, a Politico story focused entirely on reactions to Perry's comments from Republican officials and completely ignored whether or not his comments had any basis in reality. And a Christian Science Monitor article reported that Perry "says he is not backing down from what he said, but the point is to get people's attention and push for ways to reform Social Security so it will endure long enough to help today's youngsters."
From the March 13 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
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Fox News CEO Roger Ailes has lent his name to a Fox News diversity program, the Ailes Apprentice Program, that trains aspiring minority journalists. Someone should alert Fox News hosts, such as Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly, who decry the existence of diversity programs in America.
Today, as part of Black History Month, Fox & Friends ran a segment on a program designed to help inner city youth in Philadelphia. The report was done in conjunction with the Ailes Apprentice Program, but Fox didn't spend any time discussing what the Ailes Apprentice Program is. A quick check of Fox News' website, however, reveals that the Ailes Apprentice Program is aimed at "promoting diversity in broadcast & cable journalism." And video on the Ailes Apprentice Program's home page states that the program is aimed at "educating, mentoring, guiding, and inspiring young minorities." Graduates of the program receive "a bonus."
Somebody should alert Fox's two biggest hosts, Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly, to the fact that Fox News has an affirmative action program. Because they won't be happy. Hannity has even asserted that affirmative programs violate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s vision for America.
From the January 12 edition of Fox News' Your World:
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