After erstwhile team player Chief Justice John Roberts led the Supreme Court in upholding the Affordable Care Act, Fox News has spent the day trying to convince themselves, if not the rest of us, that this is excellent news for Republicans and Mitt Romney -- to the point of arguing that President Obama's "cynical" political team would have preferred the law be struck down entirely so the whole issue would just "go away."
A little while ago, Megyn Kelly sat down to talk with Chris Stirewalt, Fox News digital politics editor, about the electoral implications of the Supreme Court ruling. Stirewalt argued -- in all seriousness -- that President Obama's re-election team in Chicago were pulling for a full repeal.
STIREWALT: I can sum it up this way: at the White House, it's a good day. The president's probably very happy that he was vindicated by the Supreme Court. But out in Chicago, at the president's campaign headquarters, this can not have been the happiest news. I'm sure, from a cynical political perspective, they much rather would have had this issue go away and the Supreme Court take it down so the president could go rally the troops. Instead, it's Romney's troops who are rallied.
This is a real stretch, and here's Nate Silver of the New York Times explaining why:
It is not as though, if the law had been struck down, Republicans would have stopped talking about the folly of the legislation. Members of the public, in mostly opposing the law, had not been objecting to its technical details, some of which they actually supported when quizzed about the specific aspects of the health care overhaul.
Instead, it was to the impression that it represented an overreach on behalf of Mr. Obama -- at a time when there is profound skepticism about the direction of government and the efficacy of its policy -- that left him vulnerable.
When the dust settles, it seems implausible that Mr. Obama would be have been better off politically had his signature reform been nullified by the court. Then Mr. Obama's perceived overreach would have had the stench of being unconstitutional.
Stirewalt's analysis is, thus far, the absurd apex of Fox News' health care coverage today. It was preceded by a parade of GOP officials chest-thumping about how they're so angry and energized now, fond reminiscence of the heady days of 2010 when shaky-cam videos of barely coherent tea partiers screaming at Democrats were all the rage, and endless repetitions of the word "tax" (in accordance with Republican messaging).
Earlier this month, Democratic lawmakers sent a letter to the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) questioning whether the group, whose lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act is currently before the Supreme Court, truly represents the interests of small businesses. The NFIB has deep connections to conservative political groups and spends millions backing Republican candidates. And with the Supreme Court's ruling expected later this week, Fox's straight news programming is coming to the NFIB's defense.
In a June 12 letter to NFIB president Dan Danner, Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) and Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), co-chairs of the Democratic Congressional Progressive Caucus, questioned the NFIB's claim that it represents small business interests, writing:
We believe the financial ties of the NFIB to corporate-funded political activist groups such as Crossroads GPS -- whose parent organization, American Crossroads, counts Karl Rove as an adviser and whose president, Steven Law, was formerly general counsel at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce -- call into question the NFIB's role in speaking for small business interests. Given recent disclosures about your finances and those of other groups, we are writing to ask who is funding your lawsuit and other legal and political operations.
Why is NFIB the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit that, if found in your favor, would thrust small business owners back into the ineffective system of skyrocketing rates and low-quality coverage? This is not in the best interest of small business owners, and it does not reflect the popular opinion of the American small business community. As CBS News recently reported, while you continue to argue the law will hurt small businesses, "Other small business groups argue the opposite, claiming that the law is already lowering costs, expanding firms' insurance options, and easing the process of arranging coverage."
Fox's Megyn Kelly and Stuart Varney discussed the letter on today's edition of America Live. After Kelly introduced the segment, Varney said that "it's very clear that small businesses in America do not like Obamacare," and cited polling that backed up his assertion. When asked by Kelly the purpose of Grijalva and Ellison's letter, Varney said the letter is "an attempt to intimidate, an attempt to get out in front and be critical of this group before an adverse ruling comes."
After Kelly suggested that Grijalva and Ellison are "sort of tarring [the NFIB] with a Republican, right-leaning sort of agenda when, in fact, they have a small business agenda," Varney responded by saying: "I would hesitate to use the word propaganda, but that comes pretty close."
As Salon has noted, the NFIB has a clear record of partisan activism. According to Salon, "The group has given vastly more to GOP candidates than to Democrats, with over 90 percent of its contributions going to Republicans for the past 15 years, on average. So far this year, they've given almost $300,000 to GOP candidates and just $3,500 to Democrats."
From the June 24 edition of CNN's Reliable Sources:
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From the June 21 edition of Fox News' America Live:
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From the June 18 edition of Fox News' America Live:
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Following the Obama administration's announcement that it will grant certain undocumented immigrants the chance to be exempted from deportation, Fox News claimed President Obama had issued the decision as an executive order, implying he did so to circumvent Congress. In fact, the change is an exercise of prosecutorial discretion that is consistent with the current law and has decades of precedent.
An Associated Press article about President Obama speaking at a June 14 fundraiser in New York omitted key context to portray Obama as having said that the celebrities in attendance are the "ultimate arbiter of which direction this country goes." In fact, Obama said that the attendees and "the American people" are the "tie-breaker" and the "ultimate arbiter" of the country's direction.
Right-wing blogs and Fox News ran wild with the AP's distortion of Obama's comments.
From the AP article:
President Barack Obama soaked in the support, and the campaign cash, of Manhattan's elite entertainers Thursday as his re-election team sought to fill its fundraising coffers.
The president and first lady Michelle Obama made a rare joint fundraising appearance when they visited the home of actors Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick. The intimate dinner banked about $2 million, with 50 people paying $40,000 each.
The dinner was the Obama campaign's latest attempt to bank on celebrities for fundraising help in countering the growing donor enthusiasm from Republicans supporting Mitt Romney's presidential bid.
Speaking in a dimly lighted, art-filled room, Obama told supporters they would play a critical role in an election that would determine a vision for the nation's future.
"You're the tie-breaker," he said. "You're the ultimate arbiter of which direction this country goes."
Among the celebrities on hand to hear Obama's remarks were Oscar winner Meryl Streep, fashion designer Michael Kors and Vogue editor Anna Wintour, who moderated a private question-and-answer session between the president and the guests. Broderick, who was starring in a Broadway musical, was absent. [emphasis added]
From the White House website's transcript of the event:
In some ways, this election is more important than 2008 -- because in 2008, as much as I disagreed with Mr. McCain, he believed in climate change. He believed in campaign finance reform. He believed in immigration reform. And now what we have is a Republican nominee and a Republican Party that has moved fundamentally away from what used to be a bipartisan consensus about how you build an economy; that has said our entire agenda is based on cutting taxes even more for people who don't need them and weren't asking for them; slashing our commitment to things like education or science or infrastructure or a basic social safety net for seniors and the disabled and the infirm; that wants to gut regulations for polluters or those who are taking advantage of consumers.
So they've got a very specific theory about how you grow the economy. It's not very different from the one that actually got us into this mess in the first place. And what we're going to have to do is to present very clearly to the American people that choice. Because ultimately you guys and the American people, you're the tie-breaker. You're the ultimate arbiter of which direction this country goes in. Do we go in a direction where we're all in this together and we share in prosperity, or do we believe that everybody is on their own and we'll see how it plays out? [emphasis added]
During a preview of a speech on the economy that President Obama gave today in Cleveland, Fox anchor Megyn Kelly reported that Obama would not introduce new initiatives, but instead would "refram[e]" his message. Describing Obama's previous themes on the subject, Kelly said that Obama has tried "the blaming Bush thing" but that it doesn't "seem to be resonating."
In fact, according to a poll released today, Americans actually do agree that President Bush deserves a large share of blame for economic problems. According to a new Gallup survey, over two-thirds of the country say Bush deserves either "a great deal" or "a moderate amount" of blame for the economy, compared to just over half who say the same about Obama:
The percentage [of Americans] blaming Bush dropped to about 70% in August 2010, and has stayed roughly in that range since. Meanwhile, about half of Americans have blamed Obama since March 2010, with little substantive change from then to the present.
This is part of Fox News' campaign to shift all responsibility for economic problems to Obama while absolving President Bush.
From Fox News' America Live:
Right-wing media outlets have been in full freak-out mode this week, fabricating a myth that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been using drones to spy on Midwestern ranchers. In fact, the EPA has been utilizing manned flyovers -- not drones -- to investigate potential polluters since the Bush administration, in an effort to save money and enforce clean water regulations efficiently.
For the past ten years, the EPA has conducted intermittent flyovers "to verify compliance with environmental laws on watersheds," as Reuters reported:
"EPA uses over-flights, state records and other publicly available sources of information to identify discharges of pollution," said a statement issued by the EPA's Kansas City regional office. "In no case has EPA taken an enforcement action solely on the basis of these over-flights."
EPA has for 10 years used flyovers to verify compliance with environmental laws on watersheds as a "cost-effective" tool to minimize inspection costs, according to the statement.
This article originally said that the EPA was using drones to monitor feedlots, but a representative from Senator Johanns office has alerted us that in actuality manned aircraft have been used to monitor the feedlots. We apologize for the error.
Nevertheless, right-wing commentators began falsely throwing the word "drone" into their reports about the EPA's enforcement mechanisms. For example, Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly:
KELLY: You know, you gotta picture yourself, right, as one of these Midwestern farmers, because what's been in the news lately? The fact that President Obama's killed more terrorists with drones than any other president. That President Obama has a so-called "kill list." And that on that kill list, sometimes civilian casualties go as well, because if you're near an al-Qaeda terrorist, they assume if you're of an adult male age in a certain community, you also are a terrorist.
Even an American terrorist, an American al-Qaeda, was killed by a drone. So now you're in the Midwest, and you know you're not a terrorist, but nonetheless, you gotta get a little squeamish when you see a drone going overhead.
Fox News is attempting to gin up outrage over how the Bureau of Labor Statistics calculated that there are over 3 million green jobs in the U.S. because it included bus drivers, janitors for solar facilities, and other workers. But the BLS was transparent in its definition, and its figures are consistent with previous studies on the clean economy.
In a hearing, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) chastised BLS' John Galvin for, among other things, counting mass transit jobs as green jobs. Fox has hyped the hearing even giving it "News Alert" treatment. Issa has been holding hearings about the fact that mass transit jobs are counted as green jobs for a while now. But it's not clear what's so outrageous: mass transit significantly reduces carbon dioxide emissions and directly employs over 200,000 Americans.
Fox also echoed Issa's suggestion that it is faulty to count someone "sweeping the floor in a solar panel production facility" as a green job. However, as BLS' Galvin pointed out, "if you asked me for the number of health care jobs in the United States, I'll give you the employment from the health care industry." So of course, anyone employed by a solar company has a green job, according to the BLS' industry-based definition.
As Wisconsin residents vote on whether Republican Gov. Scott Walker should be recalled, the Fox News line on this exercise in democracy has become apparent: It's a waste of money.
Today, Fox & Friends interviewed Wisconsin state Sen. Alberta Darling, a Republican who fought off a recall effort in August. Co-host Brian Kilmeade told Darling, "I'm getting the sense that there's a lot of recall fatigue in Wisconsin, and people are pretty much fed up. You guys are wasting a lot of money -- $16 million, just on this one":
It's unclear why Kilmeade thinks that a recall election initiated by nearly a million signatures is a waste of money.
Recall elections are part of Wisconsin's democratic process. The state constitution has included a recall provision since 1926. As Marquette University law professor Edward Fallone explained in a blog post, the effort to recall Walker is consistent with the intent of that provision.
Megyn Kelly also used her "straight news" show, America Live, to push the idea that the election is somehow wasteful. Kelly said the election "comes with a hefty price tag" and called it "very expensive" while this graphic aired:
Video below the jump.
From the June 5 edition of Fox News' America Live:
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Fox News contributor David Rivkin, a former official in the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations, today falsely accused Attorney General Eric Holder of giving African-American leaders and preachers what was essentially a campaign speech when he attended a summit of the Congressional Black Caucus and the Conference of National Black Churches. Rivkin slammed Holder for "going to a number of black pastors and giving them speeches that, in fact, amount to electioneering -- telling them, supposedly, well, this is what you can say to your parishioners. There is an effort to disenfranchise you."
Rivkin added that Holder's speech was "100 percent identical to the campaign message of his boss."
This is at least the second time this week that host Megyn Kelly has allowed a guest on her show to launch a false attack against Holder over his remarks. And, once again, she made no attempt to correct the smear.
In fact, contrary to what Rivkin claimed, Holder actually spoke about "recent fears and frustrations about some of the state-level voting law changes we've seen this legislative season." He added: "For today's Department of Justice, our commitment to strengthening -- and to fulfilling -- our nation's promise of equal opportunity and equal justice has never been stronger." Holder went on to say:
HOLDER: As you know -- and have worked to draw attention to -- the past two years have brought nearly two dozen new state laws and executive orders, from more than a dozen states, that could make it significantly harder for many eligible voters to cast ballots in 2012. In response to some of these changes -- in areas covered by Section 5 [of the 1965 Voting Rights Act] -- the Justice Department has initiated careful, thorough, and independent reviews. We're now examining a number of redistricting plans in covered jurisdictions, as well as other types of changes to our election systems and processes -- including changes to the procedures governing third-party voter registration organizations, to early voting procedures, and to photo identification requirements -- to ensure that there is no discriminatory purpose or effect.
If a state passes a new voting law and meets its burden of showing that the law is not discriminatory, we will follow the law and approve the change. And, as we have demonstrated repeatedly, when a jurisdiction fails to meet its burden of proving that a proposed voting change would not have a racially discriminatory effect - we will object, as we have in 15 separate cases since last September.
Attorney General Eric Holder spoke to attendees at a summit of the Congressional Black Caucus and the Conference of National Black Churches about the importance of voting as well as the significance of new voter ID laws, which disproportionately affect minorities. The summit was designed, in part, to help black leaders learn about the new laws -- yet Rush Limbaugh and a Fox News contributor attacked Holder's appearance as "reprehensible" and "unseemly."
Fox News is attempting to downplay and discredit its own poll, which found that if the election were held today, voters would re-elect President Obama by a 7-point margin. This is hardly the first time Fox has tried to distort poll findings to advance a certain narrative.