Taking its cues from the Romney campaign, Fox News used many of its shows on July 16 to deflect from the brewing controversy over Mitt Romney's tenure at Bain Capital to focus on the economy:
In an appearance on Fox & Friends, Romney responded to intense scrutiny into his years as CEO, chairman, and sole shareholder of Bain by downplaying the criticism and focusing attention onto President Obama and the weak economy.
Fox News apparently noticed Romney's dodge, and several of the channel's hosts dutifully repeated the "Bain doesn't matter, the economy does" mantra over much of the day:
From the July 11 edition of Fox News Radio's Kilmeade & Friends:
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Karl Rove has joined other media conservatives in downplaying the severity of job losses in the public sector by touting data showing the unemployment rate among government workers in May was 4.2 percent. However, that statistic doesn't change the fact that public sector job cuts in this recovery have been more severe compared with previous recoveries, and experts note that these cuts threaten the recovering economy and impact job growth in the private sector.
Rove, a Fox contributor and anti-Obama super PAC co-founder, appeared today on the Fox "straight news" program America's Newsroom and downplayed Obama's concerns about public sector jobs. "Friday was, of course, the president's comment where he said, The private economy is doing fine. What I'm worried about is state and local government workers," he said, adding: "Unemployment among state and local government employees is 4.2 percent, almost half the national average."
By touting the statistic that the unemployment rate among government workers in May was 4.2 percent, Rove is downplaying the severity of public sector job cuts. Indeed, public sector job cuts in this recovery have been more severe compared with previous recoveries and threaten the recovering economy.
In the context of ongoing efforts by conservatives to paint President Obama as hostile toward the private sector, Fox "straight news" host Martha MacCallum remarked that Obama's recent comments about private-sector jobs growth "feed into [the] narrative" that Obama values public-sector jobs over private-sector jobs. In fact, since Obama took office, the private sector has added millions of jobs, while the public sector has suffered severe and unusual job losses.
After previously attacking President Obama for not having a plan to create jobs, Fox News is now hypocritically attacking him for faulting Congress for its failure to pass his American Jobs Act.
Last September, Obama proposed the American Jobs Act, a bill that was estimated to "likely add 1.9 million payroll jobs and grow the U.S. economy 2 percent." The bill was successfully filibustered by Senate Republicans a month later.
The Obama campaign has recently put out an ad promoting the American Jobs Act, criticizing Republicans in Congress for not passing his proposals yet, and urging Congress to pass his proposals now.
Fox News has responded by attacking Obama for "blam[ing] Congress," criticism that mirrors a recent attack by Romney that Obama is "blam[ing] Congress for the faults that he's put in place himself."
For instance, on the June 8 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom, co-host Martha MacCallum told the Examiner's Byron York "the president is going to come out and you expect that he will blame Congress for not implementing some of his job creating ideas. Is that going to fly well with the American people? I mean, I don't know how much water that holds at this point."
But Fox's criticism puts the network in the awkward position of having to admit that Obama has a jobs plan, a fact at odds with the message Fox ran with last year.
In recent interviews, President Clinton and former White House economic adviser Larry Summers agreed with President Obama that Congress should not extend the Bush tax cuts for wealthy households. But Fox News distorted their comments to falsely claim that Clinton and Summers are in favor of extending them for all households, and thus are "at odds" with Obama.
Fox "straight news" host Martha MacCallum today pushed the narrative that former President Bill Clinton is advocating the extension of all the Bush tax cuts. In fact, according to Clinton's office, he "does not believe the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans should be extended again."
On Tuesday, Clinton discussed in an interview with CNBC's Maria Bartiromo whether the Bush tax cuts should be extended into 2013. Later that day, Clinton's office released a statement saying that the former president opposes extending the Bush tax cuts for the highest earners, but believes that all of the tax cuts may have to be temporarily extended because it will be difficult for Congress to come to a long-term agreement until after the election. From USA Today:
Two questions have been raised regarding President Clinton's interview on CNBC today.
First, on extending the Bush tax cuts, as President Clinton has said many times before, he supported extending all of the cuts in 2010 as part of the budget agreement, but does not believe the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans should be extended again. In the interview, he simply said that he doubted that a long-term agreement on spending cuts and revenues would be reached until after the election.
Despite Clinton's clear statement opposing the extension of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, MacCallum today reported that Clinton favors extending all the Bush tax cuts. During an interview with Alan Colmes and Tucker Carlson, MacCallum remarked that Clinton "said that extending all the Bush tax cuts until next year would be quote, The best thing to do, and that timing is at odds with what the president has said."
Mitt Romney won the Texas Republican primary last night, clinching the GOP's nomination for president. In response, Fox News has engaged its function as the Republican Party's communications arm and mounted an all-out push to promote Romney and attack President Obama.
This morning, Fox & Friends aired a four-minute anti-Obama attack ad. Not from any campaign or super PAC, but from Fox itself -- the video opens with the text "Fox & Friends Presents":
The ad was loaded with dishonest and misleading claims.
Later, America's Newsroom, which is one of Fox's "straight news" shows, aired a portion of host Bill Hemmer's softball interview with Mitt and Ann Romney in San Diego. Hemmer said of the interview, "If you're looking for policy, that's really not the intention for why we went to California. This is really trying to get to know this man, because he's going to be in your living rooms now for at least the next six months and possibly a lot longer after that."
Hemmer's co-host, Martha MacCallum, then suggested that the purpose of the interview had been to increase Romney's poll numbers.
From the May 30 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom:
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Latching onto a Congressional Research Service report commissioned by Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), Fox News suggested today that government investments in clean energy hurt our military. But experts agree that investments in clean energy technology and climate mitigation benefit our national security.
The report found that the federal government has spent more than $68 billion since 2008 on climate-related activities. The majority of these funds went to the Climate Change Technology Program, which invests in renewable energy and other energy technologies that could reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Although only a small fraction of that funding -- about 0.01% -- went to the Defense Department, Fox anchor Martha MacCallum suggested that climate change programs are being funded at the expense of national security, asking: "Is the White House putting green energy ahead of defense?" And the Wall Street Journal's Stephen Moore added: "I do think this national security issue is really the crux of the issue about whether we want money that should be spent to keep us safe and keep us secure going for green programs."
Let's put things in perspective. According to the Congressional Research Service, the Pentagon has spent $776 million on climate change programs over the past 4 years. This accounts for approximately 0.0002% of total defense spending over that time frame -- hardly excessive to address a problem that military experts agree poses a major national security threat.
Fox News is pushing fatally flawed analogies to defend Mitt Romney from criticism over his jobs record at Bain Capital, pointing to the Obama administration's green energy loans and the successful rescue of the U.S. auto industry. These comparisons crumble under scrutiny, as leveraged buyouts are different from providing bankruptcy financing or loans.
Fox News anchor Martha MacCallum has a habit of defending GOP talking points. During a conversation with Sen. Tom Coburn today, she continued the practice, scoffing at Democratic suggestions on how to help reduce the deficit and increase revenue:
MacCALLUM: I think everybody in this country, Democrats and Republicans across the board, know that there need to be some spending cuts in order to move -- in order to protect the country, basically, from complete default. But Democrats will tell you, as you hear all the time, that if you just, you know, tax wealthy people more, and you take, you know, raise taxes on oil companies, that you're going to go a long way to solving the problem. That's what they believe.
SENATOR COBURN: Well, they know that's not true.
Coburn went on to say that those Democratic proposals wouldn't make a dent in the deficit, adding that "this is all about politics, this is all about November, this is silly time in Washington -- unfortunately, it's silly time all the time in Washington 'cause there's no grownups up here." MacCallum replied: "I was just gonna say, I think a lot of folks feel like it extends throughout the year."
In fact, the Democrats' budget proposals amount to more than just "tax wealthy people more" and "raise taxes on oil companies" -- measures Fox News has stridently defended against in its rush to protect the rich and tax breaks for oil and gas companies.
Fox News is once again pushing the myth that President Obama "apologized" for the United States, following a speech by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney in which he vowed to "never again apologize for America." In fact, Obama has never made such an apology.
Today, Fox News' America's Newsroom hosted a segment highlighting Rush Limbaugh's latest attack on Sandra Fluke. The theory behind the attack was so hard to believe that two of the three panelists, including a former spokeswoman for the House Republican Conference, called it "ridiculous" and "utterly absurd."
On Tuesday's edition of his radio show, Limbaugh returned to attacking Fluke, the Georgetown law student whom he infamously described as a "slut" and "prostitute," this time for supposedly "coordinating" with President Obama to scare students about their student loans.
Fluke responded to Limbaugh's attack later that night on MSNBC's The Last Word, pointing out the importance of affordable student loans and contradicting the notion that she is coordinating with Obama on the issue of student loans.
During a panel discussion of Limbaugh's attack on America's Newsroom today, panelists Gretchen Hamel and Judy Miller agreed that Limbaugh's theory that Fluke and Obama are coordinating is completely bogus. Hamel, a former spokeswoman for the House Republican Conference, said that Fluke's tweet "was a message being tweeted out by a number of people." Hamel also said: "I think this is just a coincidence. It's the White House having a simple message that is resonating." Miller, a Fox News contributor, called Limbaugh's theory "ridiculous" and said that "all it does is call attention to his previous faux pas."
Fox is again attempting to redefine fairness, this time by pushing the GOP-favored flat tax in the midst of debate over the Buffett Rule, which would set a minimum effective tax rate for millionaires. The flat tax is a plan Republicans have been trying to establish as far back as the 1990s.
Following the release of President Obama's tax returns, Fox jumpstarted its push for the flat tax, insisting that it would be a fairer tax system. But this is just the latest attempt by Fox to redefine "fairness" as a tax system that experts contend is designed to favor wealthier taxpayers.
Prior to an interview with Romney campaign adviser Eric Fehrnstrom, "straight news" anchor, Martha MacCallum asked her Twitter followers, "Should Mitt Romney go further with tax reform?" She then added: "Flat tax anyone?"