In light of the Obama administration's mistake in releasing to the press the name of the CIA station chief in Afghanistan, right-wing media have rushed to create a false equivalence to the Bush administration's deliberate exposure of then-covert CIA agent Valerie Plame.
Fox News contributor Karl Rove exploited the Obama administration's accidental exposure of a CIA operative's identity to absolve his own culpability in deliberately leaking former CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity during the Bush administration.
Over the weekend, the name of the CIA's top officer in Kabul, Afghanistan, was "inadvertently included on a list provided to news organizations of senior U.S. officials participating in President Obama's surprise visit with U.S. troops. The White House recognized the mistake and quickly issued a revised list."
During the May 27 broadcast of Fox News Radio's Kilmeade & Friends, host Brian Kilmeade discussed the story and remarked: "You think Valerie Plame's a big deal, fine. She's at the -- she's at a desk job in the CIA. What about a guy in one of the most dangerous jobs in the world?"
Plame is a former CIA operative whose identify was leaked by Karl Rove and others in the Bush administration as payback for an opinion piece that her husband, Joe Wilson, wrote rebutting Bush's case for invading Iraq.
Rove -- who was a senior adviser and deputy chief of staff to President Bush -- responded on Kilmeade's show by claiming Plame "was not an active agent" and that he "didn't know her name. All I'd heard was the rumor that Wilson's wife had, at the CIA, had helped send him to Niger":
From the May 15 edition of Fox News Radio's Kilmeade & Friends:
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From the May 7 edition of Fox News Radio's Kilmeade & Friends:
Fox News host Gregg Jarrett ridiculed New York Mets player Daniel Murphy for taking paternity leave for the birth of his son. Jarrett said Murphy "is rich. He could have like twenty nannies taking care of his tired wife, and he's got to take off two days? It's absurd. It's preposterous."
Jarrett's remark came after controversy over similar criticism by New York radio broadcasters Boomer Esiason and Mike Francesa. Esiason, a former professional quarterback, said he would have told his wife to have a C-section so he wouldn't miss any games, while Francesa said, "You see the birth and you get back ... Your wife doesn't need your help the first couple days." Esiason later apologized for his "flippant and insensitive remark." Francesa is reportedly standing by his remarks.
Paternity leave is a common practice in baseball. Fairleigh Dickinson University professor Scott Behson wrote in The Wall Street Journal that "almost 100 baseball players, including three other players this season, have taken paternity leave since MLB enacted the policy in 2011, according to Paul Mifsud, Senior Counsel for Labor Relations for Major League Baseball. None have received the public criticism Murphy had to endure." Teams are not short a player during paternity leave, as they are allowed to replace that player for up to three days (Mets minor league infielder Wilmer Flores, for instance, substituted for Murphy).
Major League Baseball, however, is an outlier when it comes to providing paid paternity leave in the United States. The United States does not guarantee paid maternity or paternity leave, and just "three states, California, New Jersey and Rhode Island, offer paid family and medical leave."
Continuing a pattern of romanticizing economic hardships that limit employee choice and force workers to put in long hours for low pay, right-wing media have claimed that expanding overtime compensation for salaried workers undermines work ethic by changing "the notion of hard work."
Right-wing media were quick to attack President Obama's new plan to alter Labor Department pay requirements to expand the number of salaried workers who qualify for overtime. Fox & Friends co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck warned that this move "undercuts work ethic," and co-host Brian Kilmeade agreed, encouraging viewers to weigh in on the "new American work ethic" and how the plan is "discouraging those, it seems, that want to work more to get further along, with these new rules."
On the March 12 edition of Fox Radio's Kilmeade & Friends, Fox host Martha MacCallum similarly warned that workers would be forced into "an hourly wage category," which she said, gives employees "a whole different mentality." The Wall Street Journal lamented the change in a March 12 editorial:
The rules will particularly harm workers who want to climb the economic ladder by going the extra mile for their employers and demonstrating why they deserve promotion. Now many businesses will tell employees with ambition they can't work long hours.
Fox & Friends also ran an on-air graphic on March 13 that read, "The New American Way: New Rule Seems To Change The Notion Of Hard Work."
These reflexive attacks highlight conservative media's tendency to denounce proposals designed to benefit workers by romanticizing economic hardship. Conservative outlets like Fox News have previously commended the "uniquely American" desire to "work more, work harder" and take on "two and three jobs to make ends meet" as something that is being undermined by policies that offer workers more flexibility.
Fox News reflexively attacked President Obama's forthcoming proposal to raise the salary threshold for overtime compensation, claiming the plan would hurt the economy and discourage hiring, though experts have previously promoted such a change as an opportunity to boost the economy and worker compensation.
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.
Fox News anchor Martha MacCallum suggested that voters are less likely to blame Republicans for the government shutdown than they did during the mid-90s shutdown because they're watching Fox News.
During an appearance on Fox News Radio, MacCallum, who co-hosts America's Newsroom, referenced comments from colleague Brit Hume to remark that during previous shutdowns, "you didn't have a lot of things." She added, "Fox News Channel was just beginning. People are very -- it's a different world in terms of what people understand about what's going on. In those days, it was much easier to pin the problems in this on the Republicans ... I'm not sure that they're going to punish the Republicans to the extent that they did last time around. I think they get it, and I think that they're very divided on it."
MacCallum's remarks from the October 9 edition of Fox News Radio's Kilmeade & Friends:
MACCALLUM: I thought it was very interesting what Brit Hume said yesterday on our show, and that was that, you know, seventeen years ago, the last time we went through this, you didn't have a lot of things. You know, you didn't have -- you know, Fox News Channel was just beginning. People are very -- it's a different world in terms of what people understand about what's going on. In those days, it was much easier to pin the problems in this on the Republicans. I think that people are very tuned in to this issue and we know that. Because we know they're watching, we know they care about it, and I think that, I'm not sure that they're going to punish the Republicans to the extent that they did last time around. I think they get it, and I think that they're very divided on it.
Members of the media, especially Fox News, have undertaken a campaign of false equivalency by assigning blame to both Republicans and President Obama on the government shutdown. But congressional experts have noted that the Republicans' extreme positions have led to the current government shutdown.
From the September 19 edition of Fox News Radio's Kilmeade & Friends:
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From the August 7 edition of Fox News Radio's Kilmeade & Friends:
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Fox News host Brian Kilmeade told the leader of a violent nationalist hate group that targets British Muslims, "We got your back" and "it's great what you're doing."
Kilmeade offered his endorsement to the English Defence League (EDL) and co-founder Tommy Robinson, who appeared as a guest on the June 10 edition of Kilmeade's Fox News Radio program. Kilmeade's support followed an interview in which Robinson railed against the immigration of Muslims into the United Kingdom, and warned of Muslims "forcefully putting us under Sharia" Law and planning a "silent takeover" to "implement Sharia" in his country and across the world.
Robinson (whose real name is Stephen Lennon) also said he didn't regret his recent conviction for using a false identity document to enter the United States to attend an anti-Islam event with anti-Islam blogger Pamela Geller. Robinson pleaded guilty and was jailed in January and released in February. Robinson's offense was not his first brush with the law.
Fox News has previously reported on the violent and fringe nature of the EDL. On August 28, 2010, America's News HQ anchor Gregg Jarrett noted there were "hundreds of extreme right-wing protesters rioting in northern England. Members of the so-called English Defence League tossing bottles and rocks at police in the city of Bradford. There's the map. Police penned the group in, keeping them away from a separate rally headed by a leftist group. The English Defence League opposes what it calls the spread of Sharia Law and Islamic extremism in England. Police arrested five people, but there are no reports of any injuries."
Several other news outlets have similarly described the EDL as a violent and extreme anti-Muslim group:
From the April 24 edition of Fox News Radio's Kilmeade & Friends:
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Fox News host Brian Kilmeade thinks he's found the explanation for how someone was able to set off bombs at the Boston Marathon: President Obama's supposed policy of "disengaging from the Middle East."
Kilmeade linked the alleged actions of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar to President Obama's foreign policy during his April 19 radio program. Kilmeade stated: "We had a guy in yesterday that worked with Richard Holbrooke and Hillary Clinton and he's so disappointed that we're disengaging from the Middle East. But you talk to these radicals in the Middle East and they say, 'America, don't get involved, leave us alone.' So like it or not, this president has left them alone. And guess what happens? Now the IEDs are blowing up in our streets. So what are we supposed to learn from that?"
NBC News has reported that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was born in Kyrgyzstan and became a naturalized American citizen on Sept. 11, 2012, while his late older brother, Tamerlan, killed during a recent firefight with law enforcement, was born in Russia. They reportedly came to the United States in 2002 or 2003 with their family, which is of Chechen origin.
From the April 19 edition of Fox News Radio's Kilmeade & Friends:
KILMEADE: Joe, how much are you shocked that a guy who came here when he was nine -- at nineteen, is out to blow up Americans?
CALLER: I'm not. I'm not shocked at all. I think it's -- I think it's a societal issue, I think that there's a -- that there's a definite view of America that's propagated by the political system that's going on now, and I'm not really shocked that people are disenchanted and have this view we have to, you know, get back at them. It's unfortunate, it shouldn't be that way, but you know, with an administration like we have now, and the propaganda that's going on, it just helps these people to further their psychosis.
KILMEADE: Yeah, it is two things going on. And it's got to be frustrating. We had a guy in yesterday that worked with Richard Holbrooke and Hillary Clinton and he's so disappointed that we're disengaging from the Middle East. But you talk to these radicals in the Middle East and they say, "America, don't get involved, leave us alone." So like it or not, this president has left them alone. And guess what happens? Now the IEDs are blowing up in our streets. So what are we supposed to learn from that?
Kilmeade, who also co-hosts Fox News' Fox & Friends, is hardly an authority on foreign policy or national security issues. Kilmeade has misled his audience about Iraq war intelligence, claimed (repeatedly) that "all terrorists are Muslims," and once remarked that Sen. John McCain "should not be allowed to talk on torture" because "he was tortured."
Fox News figures are dismissing the voices of the families who suffered in a mass shooting in Newtown, CT by claiming they're being used and exploited by Democrats, discounting the efforts they have made to encourage Congress to pass stronger gun laws.
On April 11, the Senate overcame a Republican-led filibuster that tried to block the beginning of debate on stronger gun laws with a 68-31 vote. The impetus for the new gun proposals was driven by the December mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut that left 26 victims dead, most of them young children. President Obama had been urging Congress to act to strengthen guns laws in response to the shooting for some time.
According to several Fox News figures, Obama has been using the families of the Newtown shooting victims as props for a political agenda.
On April 11, Fox News host Sean Hannity called the effort to strengthen gun laws "naked exploitation of dead children and grieving families," while his guest Ann Coulter said that Democrats are "play[ing] with these victims." The previous night, Hannity stated that the president "is once again using families of tragedy as props for his agenda." Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade said on his April 11 radio show that Obama is "using the Newtown families to push for background checks." Fox News White House reporter Ed Henry similarly said on April 9 that "for the second straight day, the White House used the victims of the Newtown tragedy to make their case." On his April 9 radio show, Fox News host Mike Huckabee suggested that taking some of the relatives of the Newtown shooting victims to Washington, DC on Air Force One to make their case for stronger gun laws was "an exploitation of those parents."
Such an attitude does a disservice to the many Newtown families that want tougher gun laws in the wake of their tragedies. Several of the families appeared on CBS' 60 Minutes on April 7 to discuss what kind of gun violence prevention measures they would like to see signed into law, saying that universal background checks and a ban on high-capacity magazines were important. After the vote that broke the GOP's threatened filibuster, more than 30 families of Newtown victims released a statement criticizing those who tried block an up-or-down vote on new gun legislation, saying that "[t]he senators who have vowed to filibuster this bill should be ashamed of their attempt to silence efforts to prevent the next American tragedy."