Continuing its pattern of hyping ridiculous conspiracy theories to attack the Obama administration, Fox News baselessly suggested that the ATF's Operation Fast and Furious was deliberately designed to go badly in order to justify stricter U.S. gun laws. In fact, even a report prepared for House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) refutes this theory.
Download Fox News' brand new iPad app and you'll notice something curious: there's an ExxonMobil advertisement on nearly every page, sometimes filling the whole screen. Click on it and you can watch a video of a smiling ExxonMobil geologist touting the natural gas boom. As the tech news website Mashable reported, this is because "Exxon is the exclusive launch partner for Fox News' iPad app":
"We decided we wanted to work with one sponsor," [Fox News' Jeremy] Steinberg said, explaining that there are always question marks surrounding a launch, so Fox News wanted a partner comfortable with that. He said Exxon, which is in the midst of a new branding campaign, thought the app was a perfect platform for broadcasting its message.
It makes sense that one of the biggest funders of interest groups that obfuscate the threat posed by global warming would team up with the news outlet that has done more than any other to promote misinformation about climate science.
The partnership further undermines ExxonMobil's 2008 pledge to stop funding groups "whose positions on climate change could divert attention" from the need to develop secure, clean energy. As an internal email revealed last year, it has been the policy of Fox News to question even the basic fact that the planet has warmed in recent decades.
Climate change is not the only issue on which ExxonMobil might find Fox News' coverage agreeable. Last month in the midst of both soaring profits for big oil and attempts by Congressional Democrats to roll back oil companies' tax breaks, ExxonMobil's spin could be heard on Fox News.
With the notable exception of Bill O'Reilly, many on Fox eagerly passed along talking points first outlined by ExxonMobil vice president of public affairs Ken Cohen in a series of blog posts designed to preempt any backlash against Exxon's massive first quarter earnings report.
From the June 9 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom:
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From the June 8 edition of Fox News' America Live:
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From the June 6 edition of Fox News' America Live:
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There's been a lot of hand-wringing from the right-wing media this week about a possible "double-dip" recession. See Dick Morris on yesterday's Fox & Friends, during an epic rant about how President Obama can't possibly win a second term:
MORRIS: I think that Obama definitely can be defeated and will be defeated. I think that the -- it is impossible for him to avoid blame for this economy. At some point, does this guy look in the mirror and understand that everything he's done about the economy is wrong? That he's causing the second housing crisis by cutting out the mortgage interest deduction, that he's causing this double-dip recession by threatening tax increases on consumers? Doesn't he understand that he's causing the deficit with this gigantic government spending?
Or witness this exchange between guest host Martha MacCallum and Fox Business host Stuart Varney on the June 2 broadcast on America Live:
MacCALLUM: A lot of folks in the financial world very concerned that the economy is actually getting weaker at this point. They're dropping words like meltdown, double-dip recession and even depression. Just today we got word out for the new unemployment claims. They dropped by about 6,000 last week. Economists were expecting those claims to fall by almost twice that number. So here is the big number for today -- 422,000 people walked into unemployment offices and filed for claims for the first time last week.
Stuart Varney joins me now, of the Fox Business Network. Stuart, what's going on here? Why are we still struggling so much?
VARNEY: All of a sudden, the economy seems to have hit a brick wall and is weakening on all fronts. Let's go through them. Housing prices down 33 percent from a couple of years ago and still falling. Manufacturing orders falling off a cliff very recently.
[A]nd this economy is growing at less than 2 percent per year. That's almost at stalling speed for an economy which is supposed to be roaring out of a recovery. Martha, that is why you've got people like Robert Reich, former labor secretary under President Clinton, saying that we are, indeed, heading towards a double-dip recession. Big negatives on the economy.
It is indeed true that economist Robert Reich recently penned a gloomy Financial Times op-ed, though what he wrote was, "It is unlikely that America will find itself back in recession but the possibility of a double dip cannot be dismissed."
What does Reich, who served in three administrations and was Secretary of Labor under President Clinton, think is causing our economic woes? From his op-ed (emphasis added):
Lars Larson's solution for the nation's illegal immigration is nothing if not simple: Throw every single undocumented immigrant out of the United States. That's the radio talk host's idea of comprehensive immigration reform, which, unsurprisingly, is the antithesis of comprehensive. To make his case, Larson has been appearing on Fox News to repeatedly perpetuate the myth that undocumented immigrants commit "a larger proportionate share" of crimes.
This week on America Live, he again advocated for immigrants' removal based on that same myth that they are "involved in more than their share ... of criminal activity." And this time he went even further: He enthusiastically endorsed the type of deportations that often break up the families of American children.
During Fox News' coverage of the federal immigration enforcement program, Secure Communities, which targets for deportation undocumented immigrants "who present the greatest threat" -- for example, those who have been convicted of "major drug offenses, national security crimes, and violent crimes such as murder, manslaughter, rape, robbery and kidnapping" -- Larson attacked states like California and Illinois who have decided not to participate. Larson said that these states "should be looking out for their own citizens" and demanded that they "stand up for their citizens." He added that by choosing to opt out, "California is selling out California."
Unsurprisingly, Larson seemed ignorant of the actual rationale behind the states' decisions.
During Fox News' coverage of Secure Communities, a deportation program begun under the Bush administration, Fox pushed the idea that opting out of the program would create "sanctuary states" for dangerous undocumented immigrants. In fact, a large proportion of individuals who are detained and deported by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement carry only misdemeanors and minor infractions or have no criminal conviction or background.
Roughly two weeks after pretending to defend federal workers over Geithner's decision to use government pension funds to stave off economic disaster, Fox News returned to their usual attacks on civil servants. Fox's supposedly "straight news" program, America Live, seized on a new study saying that thousands of federal employees are paid more than the governors of the state where they work to attack these employees as overpaid. But in reporting on the study, Fox itself cast doubt on whether all those workers actually receive a salary that is too generous.
America Live guest host Martha MacCallum and Fox News contributor Monica Crowley highlighted a new report by the Congressional Research Service that found that 77,000 federal workers made more than their state's governor in 2009. (Earlier the same day, Fox's Eric Bolling also touted the same study to spread falsehoods about civil servants.) MacCallum said that, according to the report, "you have four food service workers who are making more than the governor" and "an interior decorator also making more than the governor in certain states." She added: "[T]he point is, we're seeing a lot of inflation in federal salaries -- state salaries." Crowley responded by saying that "these kinds of stories tell us that the Democratic leadership ... have been so out of touch with spending, with what the American people want in terms of fiscal responsibility that they've gone down this road of out of control spending."
But MacCallum herself undermined the attack by noting that many of the 77,000 workers identified in the study are doctors and air traffic controllers. MacCallum stated: "[S]ome of these workers -- a lot of them are doctors -- and I think, you know, everyone likes to see a good doctor paid handsomely, or paid well," she said. "Then you get to the air traffic controllers, also an important job." (According to the report, of the 77,000 employees 18,351 were "medical officer[s]" and 5,170 worked in "air traffic control.")
Moreover, comparing the salaries of federal employees to those of governors is almost completely meaningless. State governments have no control over the salaries of federal employees just as the federal government has no control over the salaries of state employees, including those of governors. If a federal employee is being paid more than a governor, it is because the individual state has set the governor's salary, not the federal government.
Following President Obama's May 19 speech on the Middle East, right-wing media have characterized Obama's call for the creation of a Palestinian state "based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps" as Obama "sid[ing] with the Palestinians." However, this characterization obscures the fact that Obama's plan has Israeli and Jewish support; for instance, the leader of the Israeli opposition party and several American Jewish organizations applauded Obama's plan, and prominent Israelis have previously supported similar plans.
From the May 19 edition of Fox News' America Live:
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Fox News defends its credibility as a legitimate news outlet by claiming that there is a dividing line between its news and opinion programming. Purported "straight news" anchor Martha MacCallum, however, has a long record of echoing GOP talking points to advocate for conservative policies.
The right-wing media is hyping a study that attempted to measure the state-by-state unemployment effects of the stimulus, to claim that the bill actually destroyed jobs. But economists, including Nobel laureate Paul Krugman, have raised questions of "cherry picking" and dismissed the study's findings.
Right-wing media have continued to attack energy standards that will phase out inefficient light bulbs by 2012, claiming the bill will "ban" incandescent light bulbs and force consumers to instead purchase either $50 light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs or "dangerous" compact florescent lights (CFL). In fact, the bill only bans inefficient incandescent light bulbs, and efficient bulbs -- whose prices vary considerably depending on the type of bulb and are also projected to drop -- will save consumers money in the long run; experts have also said that concerns over mercury in CFL bulbs are overstated.
A new study has suggested that the economic stimulus resulted in the loss of approximately 550,000 jobs. Given that this could help reinforce the false conservative narrative that "the stimulus failed," it was bound to receive airtime on Fox News.
Today, the study made its way onto one of Fox's "straight news" programs, America Live:
MARTHA MacCALLUM (guest host): How about this? There's a brand new verdict when you take a look at the research that has been done by a university study that is just out on President Obama's stimulus plan and what it really did for jobs in the United States.
This is an exhaustive study done by two economists, and it says basically that the plan saved -- you remember the, you know, sort of "saved or created" moniker there -- that it saved 450,000-government sector jobs. But this study says that it actually destroyed or delayed 1 million private-sector jobs. Meaning that at the end of the day, this effort cost more jobs -- the trillion dollar stimulus -- than it created. This is a hugely controversial study that is out there, and it has some incredible implications.
The conservative blog RedState is also promoting the study.
First, it is misleading to call this study, by Timothy Conley of the University of Western Ontario and Bill Dupor of Ohio State, "exhaustive," as the authors themselves note in the conclusion:
Much work on the effects of the ARRA remains to be done. We found, surprisingly, either negligible or negative effects of the Act on total employment; thus, it is important to explore whether alternative empirical specifications, besides the historical `Keynesian multiplier' approach of Section 5 used by other researchers, are capable of finding a significant positive jobs effect.
More important, Fox overplays the study as a game-changer. It is not. It is a single study added to a pile of estimates that say the stimulus helped curb job losses and increase economic output.