Fox News has seized on what it believes is a new angle to continue making an issue of the Obama administration's response to the Libya terrorist attack. Discussing President Obama's news conference on Wednesday, Fox treated Obama's statement that the White House chose Ambassador Susan Rice to discuss the attack publicly as new and "significant," claiming Obama's admission is "one of the most important parts" of what he said during his press conference.
It's unclear why Fox believes Obama's statement is significant considering Rice's position as a top official in the Obama administration.
In her capacity as one of the United States' top diplomats -- she was nominated by President Obama as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations in January 2009 -- Rice is a member of the Obama administration whose job is to speak for the White House on government decisions and policy.
Not only that, but the White House's reasons for why it specifically asked Rice to discuss the situation in Benghazi publicly have been known for at least a month. The Washington Post reported on October 15: "The White House has said that it turned to Rice to make the administration's case on the Benghazi attack because it made sense to have a top diplomat speak to the loss of the U.S. ambassador to Libya, J. Christopher Stevens."
On September 16, five days after the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Rice appeared on the Sunday talk shows to talk about what the administration knew about the attack. In the interviews, Rice made clear that definitive conclusions would only follow from an administration investigation, which she stressed was under way.
OBAMA: [L]et me say specifically about Susan Rice, she has done exemplary work. She has represented the United States and our interests in the United Nations with skill and professionalism and toughness and grace. As I've said before, she made an appearance at the request of the White House in which she gave her best understanding of the intelligence that had been provided to her.
If Senator [John] McCain and Senator [Lindsay] Graham and others want to go after somebody, they should go after me. And I'm happy to have that discussion with them. But for them to go after the U.N. ambassador, who had nothing to do with Benghazi and was simply making a presentation based on intelligence that she had received and to besmirch her reputation is outrageous.
Discussing his comments on Fox News' America Live, however, host Megyn Kelly and Fox contributor Kirsten Powers expressed surprise at Obama's statement that Rice's appearances on the Sunday talk shows were "at the request of the White House."
Powers claimed the admission was "probably one of the most important parts" of what Obama said, "which is admitting that the White House is the one who told her what to say and that this did come from the White House, which had been mostly been speculated upon."
Fox News is distorting Sen. John Kerry's record in an attempt to discredit his possible nomination as Defense secretary. But Fox's criticism is based on the misleading and false claims of a disgraced 2004 Swift Boat campaign against Kerry and on the misrepresentation of past Kerry remarks.
Fox News is trying to disqualify Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, from being nominated as the next secretary of state by alleging that she made inaccurate statements about the attack on the U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya. But during her Sunday show appearances, Rice was accurately conveying the consensus of the intelligence community at the time, and there is evidence that the anti-Islam video she referenced did, in fact, play a role in motivating the attack.
Fox News' Megyn Kelly misrepresented President Obama's call for a "balanced approach" to reducing the budget deficit, claiming it means he wants tax hikes while Republicans want spending cuts. In fact, a balanced deficit-reduction plan includes a combination of the two -- which economists agree would be the best approach.
On America Live, Kelly reported that Obama said he "wants a balanced approach to the debt deal, which has been how he describes a request for tax hikes in the past," adding, "This is how they're split: He wants tax hikes, and the Republicans don't want tax hikes, and they want some spending cuts, and he doesn't want to give those."
But the "balanced approach" to deficit reduction includes a combination of both tax increases and spending cuts -- a plan Obama has repeatedly endorsed as the right way to deal with the deficit.
As Bloomberg reported on Wednesday:
Obama "will offer a brand-new plan of his own," Steve Bell, senior director of the Economic Policy Project at the Bipartisan Policy Center, said in an interview.
Bell said one option the Obama administration is considering is pushing anew for a "balanced" plan to cut as much as $100 billion in spending as a deficit-reduction down payment while letting the George W. Bush-era tax cuts expire for top earners.
New York Magazine's Gabriel Sherman reported that after Fox News initially made the call that President Obama had won Ohio, Karl Rove -- a contributor to the network and the head of a pro-Mitt Romney super PAC -- fought against the decision, causing "Fox News' top producers" to call a meeting with Rove and two of the people in charge of making the Ohio call, Arnon Mishkin and Chris Stirewalt.
Ultimately, Fox decided to have Mishkin and Stirewalt explain their reasoning on-air. But rather than have the duo appear on camera, producers decided to have Fox anchor Megyn Kelly "walk through the office and interview" Mishkin and Stirewalt in a conference room. Sherman reported that an anonymous Fox insider said: "This is Fox News ... so anytime there's a chance to show off Megyn Kelly's legs they'll go for it."
From Sherman's article:
Shortly after 11 p.m., Bret Baier went on-camera to read a script written by Fox's Washington managing editor Bill Sammon, based on an analysis by the network's decision desk, announcing Ohio for Obama. "That's the presidency, essentially," Baier said.
Instantly, Fox phones lit up with angry phone calls and e-mails from the Romney campaign, who believed that the call was premature, since tallies in several Republican-leaning Southern counties hadn't been been fully tabulated. "The Romney people were totally screaming that we're totally wrong," one Fox source said. "To various people, they were saying, 'your decision team is wrong.'" According to a Fox insider, Rove had been in contact with the Romney people all night. After the Ohio call, Rove -- whose super-PAC had spent as much as $300 million on the election, to little avail -- took their complaints public, conducting an on-air primer on Ohio's electoral math in disputing the call.
This time, it was the network divided against itself, and Fox News' top producers held a meeting to adjudicate. The decision desk stood their ground. They knew how momentous the call was. Earlier in the night, according to a source, before making the call, Arnon Mishkin, who heads the decision desk, told Fox brass, "let's remember this is Fox News calling Ohio. This will say something beyond Ohio going for Obama." Fox brass told Mishkin to get the numbers right and ignore the politics: "If we think Ohio has gone Obama, we call Ohio," said a Fox News executive.
With neither side backing down, senior producers had to find a way to split the difference. One idea was for two members of the decision team, Mishkin and Fox's digital politics editor Chris Stirewalt, to go on camera with Megyn Kelly and Bret Baier to squelch the doubts over the call. But then it was decided that Kelly would walk through the office and interview the decision team in the conference room. "This is Fox News," an insider said, "so anytime there's a chance to show off Megyn Kelly's legs they'll go for it."
During a report on how Hurricane Sandy continues to impact New York City residents, including those struggling without power or gasoline, Fox News' Megyn Kelly stated, "It's not like New Orleans where they can go to the Superdome. There's no Superdome here in New York."
But in contrasting the current situation in New York with what happened in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Kelly ignored key distinctions -- namely that the Superdome was rendered largely uninhabitable shortly after thousands took refuge there. In fact, some residents refuse to set foot in the Dome today after surviving the chaos there.
In the days after Hurricane Katrina made landfall in Louisiana on August 29, 2005, up to 20,000 people streamed into the Superdome for refuge against the storm, and the horror that ensued over the next five days was widely reported at the time.
Here's how the devastation was described in a September 2005 Los Angeles Times article:
By Wednesday, it had degenerated into horror. A few hundred people were evacuated from the arena Wednesday, and buses will take away the vast majority of refugees today.
"We pee on the floor. We are like animals," said Taffany Smith, 25, as she cradled her 3-week-old son, Terry. In her right hand she carried a half-full bottle of formula provided by rescuers. Baby supplies are running low; one mother said she was given two diapers and told to scrape them off when they got dirty and use them again.
At least two people, including a child, have been raped. At least three people have died, including one man who jumped 50 feet to his death, saying he had nothing left to live for.
The hurricane left most of southern Louisiana without power, and the arena, which is in the central business district of New Orleans, was not spared. The air conditioning failed immediately and a swampy heat filled the dome.
An emergency generator kept some lights on, but quickly failed. Engineers have worked feverishly to keep a backup generator running, at one point swimming under the floodwater to knock a hole in the wall to install a new diesel fuel line. But the backup generator is now faltering and almost entirely submerged.
There is no sanitation. The stench is overwhelming. The city's water supply, which had held up since Sunday, gave out early Wednesday, and toilets in the Superdome became inoperable and began to overflow.
The article went on to report that the "Superdome is patrolled by more than 500 Louisiana National Guard troops, many of whom carry machine guns as sweaty, smelly people press against metal barricades that keep them from leaving," adding, "Most refugees are given two 9-ounce bottles of water a day and two boxed meals: spaghetti, Thai chicken or jambalaya."
A September 3, 2005, Associated Press article about the Superdome's completed evacuation further described the intolerable conditions, including how the "arena's second-story concourse looked like a dump, with more than a foot of trash."
From the November 2 edition of Fox News' America Live:
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From the November 2 edition of Fox News' America Live:
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Fox personalities are attempting to discredit the October jobs report before its release on November 2 by suggesting that if the unemployment rate drops as it did in September, the numbers may have been manipulated by the Obama administration. In fact, there is no evidence to suggest the government's numbers are manipulated.
From the October 31 edition of Fox News's America Live:
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Fox Business' Lou Dobbs cited declining GDP growth from 2010 to 2011 to claim the economy is not getting better, failing to mention that the decline coincided with a steep drop-off in federal stimulus spending.
During a discussion on Friday's GDP report on America Live, host Megyn Kelly explained that while the 2 percent rise in GDP was due to increased federal spending, it is an improvement from previous quarters' figures. Dobbs disagreed, pointing to GDP growth rate decline from 2010 to 2011 to illustrate that the economy is not improving.
While Dobbs is correct that GDP growth did decline in 2011, he fails to recognize that this trend coincided with a slowdown in stimulus spending. Previous Media Matters research shows that the increase in GDP after the recession was a partly attributable to federal stimulus, and that the "fiscal drag" experienced in 2011 was due to a phasing out of stimulus spending. In an August 2011 report, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that 85 percent of stimulus funds had been spent by June 2011. In the same report, the CBO noted that the stimulus directly increased GDP growth by between 0.8 and 2.5 percent. Many economists predicted that the phasing out of stimulus funds would lead to a decline in economic growth. Paul Krugman claimed "when the spending begins to tail off, the effect on growth turns negative," and analysts at Deutsche Bank predicted "the real effect of lost stimulus will start to hit" in the first quarter of 2011.
From the October 26 edition of Fox News's America Live:
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Fox News host Megyn Kelly sharply critiqued a Montana self-defense law that has been cited by the local prosecutor as the reason that Brice Harper will not face charges after fatally shooting Dan Fredenberg in Harper's garage on September 22. Fredenberg, who was unarmed, entered the garage to confront Harper who was having an affair with his wife.
During Thursday's segment on American Live, Kelly stated "it looks like that guy who did the shooting, who was having the affair is going to get away with it" and said that Harper "is getting off. Why? Because of the 'stand your ground' law or the 'castle doctrine' in Montana." Kelly also expressed the belief that the law effectively makes the punishment for unlawfully entering someone's property "the death penalty."
Montana's "castle doctrine" law allows an individual to use deadly force while in their home if the individual has a reasonable apprehension of assault. The deadly force requirement was created in 2009 by HB 228, a bill that expanded the circumstances under which deadly force could be used in self-defense and also loosened rules on the carrying of concealed weapons in public.
While the bill was under consideration, National Rifle Association lobbyist Brian Judy called it "our most important bill of the session." The proposed legislation, however, was opposed by some members of law enforcement who cited public safety concerns.
Even as numerous states have expanded self-defense laws in recent years (often at the behest of the NRA), Montana's "castle doctrine" law stands out for the extremely low requirements that an individual must satisfy before using deadly force. Under Montana law, an individual may use deadly force on someone who unlawfully enters his or her property if that individual "reasonably believes that the force is necessary to prevent an assault."
Can conservative beliefs be fact checked? Or have their increasingly isolated convictions, particularly those concerning President Obama, become immune to impendent review?
Megyn Kelly helped raised the issue on Fox News this week during a segment in which the cable channel, yet again, ran interference on behalf of the faulty claim that President Obama had gone on an "apology tour" his first year in office, traveling the globe apologizing for America. Kelly responded to the argument that neutral fact-checkers have debunked the criticism by claiming the issue can't be fact-checked away because conservatives are convinced it's true.
The issue came up after Mitt Romney raised it during Monday's debate. Obama responded by calling the "apology tour" one of the biggest "whoppers" Romney had been telling on the campaign trail, and noted that several independent fact-checkers have addressed the right-wing claim and found it to be completely unsubstantiated. ("Pants on fire.")
Annoyed at the general consensus that the "apology tour" never happened, Kelly hosted a Romney surrogate and expressed her annoyance that fact checkers had concluded the event was a fabrication. After airing clips of Obama weaving in some critiques of American foreign policy under his predecessor during 2009 trips abroad, Kelly concluded it simply wasn't possible to claim the "apology tour" hadn't happened.
Why? Because many Fox News viewers think it did. It's one of their core beliefs. It's an article of faith.
KELLY: The words speak for themselves. Either people believe that was president Obama apologizing for America or they don't. But how can a fact checker say it's not true?
How can fact checkers say the claim of an "apology tour" isn't true when conservatives heard the clips and decided it is true? (This is akin to George Costanza logic: It's not a lie, if you believe it.)
From the October 24 edition of Fox News' America Live:
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