Right-wing media are citing the claims of a high-level Mexican drug cartel figure, who faces life in prison for narcotrafficking, to advance its latest conspiracy theory about a failed federal law enforcement operation to stop the flow of guns into Mexico.
According to Vicente Zambada-Niebla, a high-level Sinaloa Cartel figure known as "El Vicentillo" who will soon face trial in Chicago, the purpose of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives' (ATF) Operation Fast and Furious was to arm the Sinaloa Cartel so that it would have the firepower to destroy rival drug cartels. Zambada-Niebla's testimony is not credible for a number of reasons, the most glaring being that he was arrested in March 2009, more than six months before the ATF even conceived of Fast and Furious.
Despite this red flag, Zambada-Niebla's claims have been repeatedly promoted on the National Rifle Association's radio and television shows, by Fox News contributor Katie Pavlich, and throughout the fringe conservative blogosphere.
Fox News employees are rushing to defend Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson after A&E placed him on indefinite hiatus for making anti-gay remarks in which he called homosexuality a sin, illogical, and akin to bestiality.
According to a poll by Rasmussen Reports being trumpeted by right-wing media, a majority of American voters believe the Obama administration is "not aggressive enough in deporting those who are in this country illegally." The poll also found that a majority of white as well as minority voters "oppose a halt to deportations." But these results don't take into account the federal government's record on deportations and are contradicted by a veritable litany of polls taken this year and over the past two years.
Conservative media are promoting the poll as evidence that the country wants more undocumented immigrants deported and that this proves that the current border enforcement and deportation policies of the Obama administration are too lax.
The poll, a national survey of 1,000 likely U.S. voters conducted December 8-9, asked vague and out-of-context questions about a specific category of immigrants (those who overstay their visas) including:
But the first question -- which used the language "make them leave the country" instead of "deport" -- failed to put the overstays in context. According to a February 2013 study, overstays declined by 73 percent between 2000 and 2009 thanks to enhanced security measures by DHS in the years following the September 11, 2001, attacks. The Wall Street Journal reported in April that about 40 percent of the roughly 11 million undocumented immigrants currently in the country are those who overstayed their visas. The article continued:
Little is known about the demographics of the so-called overstayer population, but some studies suggest they tend to be better educated and more fluent in English than those who crossed the border illegally. They also are more likely to hail from European, Asian and African countries. And in many cases, they used tourist visas to enter the U.S.
From the December 3 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
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Right-wing media figures capitalized on provocative advertisements for Obamacare from non-profit groups in Colorado to attack a woman who uses free birth control as a "slut," "whore," and "prostitute."
Fox News' Bill Hemmer cited an unnamed report to continue the network's dishonest attacks on the Affordable Care Act by claiming that HealthCare.gov may cost taxpayers over $1 billion -- an assertion that overstated the actual cost by more than $700 million.
On the October 25 edition of Fox's America's Newsroom, host Hemmer asked whether HealthCare.gov, the website established under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to connect Americans with health insurance exchanges, would be "the first billion-dollar website?" Hemmer then told contributor Katie Pavlich, "Government keeps throwing money after problems which shows you how government gets fat and very, very expensive," before concluding, "These people have lost their minds." The on-screen text read, "Rpt: Final Obamacare Website Costs Could Top $1 Billion."
However, as reported in a Washington Post fact-check, yesterday's congressional hearings regarding the ACA website revealed that government contracts to create the website amounted to a total value of less than $300 million. According to The Washington Post:
In the testimony, a reference was made to the fact that the TCV (total contract value) was $292 million. That is the least important number, as in effect it is like a credit card limit. What is more important is what has been already spent or obligated.
To sum up: The floor for spending on the Web site to date appears to be at least $170 million, with an upward potential of nearly $300 million.
While neither Hemmer nor Pavlich revealed the source of the report they were using to make their claims, a Media Matters search found only a Newsmax article with a similar contention. That article in turn referenced a report from Bloomberg Government. But according to Bloomberg, their study covered "all health law-related contract awards to the firms since the ACA was enacted in March 2010," not just the those related to the ACA website. That study may also be overstating the costs, considering "it assumed that most recent IT awards by the Department of Health and Human Services are ACA-related because the law's implementation has consumed an increasing share of the department's time and resources."
Fox is doubling down on misleading its viewers about the costs of the ACA -- almost literally. It was previously called out for inflating HealthCare.gov's costs to $634 million.
Fox News is leading a charge to fire Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel after the Republican-led government shutdown Fox helped orchestrate actually shut down the government and led to the suspension of military death benefits to families of fallen soldiers.
On October 8, the Defense Department issued a release confirming that it had suspended military death benefits to the families of at least five deceased soldiers because of the shutdown. "The department does not currently have the authority to pay death gratuities for the survivors of service members killed in action," the release explained.
Fox quickly seized on the news to assail Hagel and call for his firing. During the October 9 edition of The Real Story with Gretchen Carlson, Bill O'Reilly said that Hagel "should resign immediately" because "it's his fault" that the shutdown delayed death benefits. The following day, on his Fox News show, O'Reilly said that Hagel "should be fired immediately. He has no right to be there. He's lost all credibility with the military." And on the October 11 edition of America's Newsroom, Fox contributor Katie Pavlich said, "I would hope in a moment of leadership that President Obama would ask [Hagel] to submit his resignation. This is something you do not violate."
Fox's attempt to scapegoat Hagel is lacking considering the Pentagon warned Congress prior to the shutdown -- which Fox repeatedly cheered -- that it wouldn't have the authority to pay these benefits in the event of a shutdown. NBC News reported:
Lawmakers and the White House have voiced outrage over the shutdown fiasco that has deprived military families of death benefits, but the Pentagon warned of the situation days before the shutdown began.
Under Secretary of Defense Robert Hale advised of the effects a shutdown would have on military personnel and their families during a news conference on Sept. 27.
"We would also be required to do some other bad things to our people. Just some examples - we couldn't immediately pay death gratuities to those who die on active duty during the lapse," Hale said.
Although the Republican-led shutdown prevented the Pentagon from paying military death benefits, the Pentagon struck a deal with a charity to ensure that the benefits are provided to the affected families. CNN reported that "the government will reimburse the Maryland-based Fisher House Foundation once the shutdown is over, Hagel said in a written statement." Obama has since signed a bill providing military death benefits during the shutdown.
Fox News is using falsehoods to discredit an immigration reform rally that took place on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., claiming that activists were given preferential treatment by the Obama administration to stage their protest while parks remain closed. In fact, the National Park Service made it clear a week before the protest that First Amendment activities on the Mall and at Memorial Parks would be exempt from closures.
Conservative media viciously attacked Texas State Senator Wendy Davis after she announced her candidacy for governor, linking Davis to infanticide and calling an image of her with kids "sick" and "disgusting."
Reacting to the release of surveillance footage from the Washington Navy Yard mass shooting, Fox News contributor Katie Pavlich claimed that, "[w]atching Aaron Alexis stalking his victims in these videos prove a proficient armed person could have stopped him, easily." Her commentary ignores that there were armed guards at Navy Yard and that Alexis reportedly fatally shot an armed guard before taking and then using the fallen guard's Beretta 9mm handgun.
She also wrote:
Alexis fatally shot 12 people and wounded others during the morning of September 16 before he was killed by police. On September 25, the FBI released a 31-second video, some of which showed Alexis moving through Building 197 at the Navy Yard.
Pavlich's claim that more guns would have improved the Navy Yard shooting situation is the latest attempt by conservative media to brand the Navy Yard a "gun-free zone," despite clear evidence that armed individuals were on the base when the shooting happened.
Fox News and other conservative media outlets have amplified Rep. Darrell Issa's (R-CA) misleading claim that Democrats "excuse[d] themselves" from testimony given by the families of the victims of the Benghazi attack. In fact, over the course of the hearing, members of both parties were in and out of the proceedings.
Rep. Issa posted a tweet claiming that Democratic members of the House Oversight Committee left the hearing room as Patricia Smith and Charles Woods testified about their sons, Sean Smith and Charles Woods, who were killed in Benghazi.
Fox News contributor Katie Pavlich dishonestly criticized the independence of the State Department Accountability Review Board (ARB) that investigated the September 2012 attack on a U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya by hyping the fact that then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appointed four of the ARB's members. Federal law mandates that the secretary of state appoint four of the five members of each Accountability Review Board.
During a September 19 House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on the attacks that killed four Americans in Benghazi, Republican Congressman John Mica of Florida asked Retired Admiral Mike Mullen, vice chairman of the ARB, to confirm that Clinton appointed four of the five members of the board. After Mullen confirmed that, Mica commented "it looks like sort of an inside job of investigation, the Department of State looking at the Department of State." Mica also commented that the ARB did not interview Clinton for its report.
Pavlich, who was commenting on the hearing through her Twitter account, seized on this fact to criticize the ARB report, calling it a "whitewash":
Pavlich later made the same point in a post on Townhall.com, where she's an editor, this time to impugn the independence of the board:
During the hearing, Republican Rep. John Mica pointed out Clinton appointed four out of the five members of the ARB board investigating the Benghazi attack. The ARB describes itself as "independent."
But the secretary of state is required by federal law to appoint four of the five members of an Accountability Review Board:
A Board shall consist of five members, 4 appointed by the Secretary of State, and 1 appointed by the Director of Central Intelligence. The Secretary of State shall designate the Chairperson of the Board. Members of the Board who are not Federal officers or employees shall each be paid at a rate not to exceed the maximum rate of basic pay payable for level GS-18 of the General Schedule for each day (including travel time) during which they are engaged in the actual performance of duties vested in the Board. Members of the Board who are Federal officers or employees shall receive no additional pay by reason of such membership.
Pavlich has previously smeared Clinton over the Benghazi attack on Fox News.
Right-wing media are already beginning to politicize the shooting at the Washington Navy Yard earlier today to push for weaker gun laws. But their suggestion that the shooting could have been stopped if more people had been armed ignores that the victims include police officers and that an armed citizen has not stopped a mass shooting in 30 years.
As many as three gunmen reportedly opened fire at the headquarters of the Naval Sea Systems Command at the Washington Navy Yard this morning, killing four people and wounding eight more. Reports currently indicate that at least one shooter is dead but that the situation may not be completely resolved.
This morning, as reports of the number of gunmen and whether there were shooters still at large circulated, conservative media figures are suggesting that easier availability of guns would have prevented the rampage.
On Fox News, Martha MacCallum highlighted that "on a military base, you're not allowed to carry weapons" and that "someone working or familiar with the area probably would know that," suggesting that the Navy Yard had been targeted by the shooter or shooters due to the perceived lack of guns. MacCallum's guest, security expert Don Borelli, responded by discounting her statement, noting the high level of security at the base.
From the August 29 edition of Fox News' Hannity:
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Conservatives are using a comment from former President Bill Clinton's speech at the memorial celebrating the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington to falsely suggest that background checks are required for all gun sales.
During his speech, Clinton stated, "A great democracy does not make it harder to vote than to buy an assault weapon."
Clinton appeared to refer to two conservative legislative priorities: Their passage in several states of voter ID laws and other laws that make it harder for people to vote, especially low income and minority voters; and their effort to block earlier this year federal legislation to strengthen and expand the background check system to prevent felons and the dangerously mentally ill from purchasing firearms.
Responding to Clinton's comment, Fox News contributor Erick Erickson facetiously wrote on his RedState.com blog that Clinton had "called for the elimination of background checks to purchase guns." Erickson claims that "purchases of firearms in every state must go through a firearms background check" and thus concludes that since one "does not even need photo identification in every state to vote... I take this statement to mean Bill Clinton wants background checks for gun purchases eliminated."
At TownHall.com, fellow Fox News contributor Katie Pavlich similarly wrote:
Clinton's words came in reference to voter identification laws being passed all over the country which require voters to show government issued photo identification in order to vote. Federal gun laws also require people purchasing firearms to show government issued photo identification. In addition, firearms purchasers are required to undergo a background check.
In fact, under federal law background checks are only required on those who seek to purchase a firearm from a licensed dealer; no such check is needed for those who buy them from private sellers, including at gun shows and online.