Media conservatives are pushing the narrative that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's attacks against President Obama over the economy will be effective because Obama favored health care reform rather than focusing on "fixing the economy." However, this narrative falters when confronted with the facts, including that Obama pushed through the first of many economic initiatives a month after he was elected -- more than a year before health care reform became law.
As companies cut ties with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) following a campaign led by ColorOfChange, Fox News has defended the conservative legislation organization, accusing ColorOfChange of using "fascist tactics" and inviting ALEC supporters and officials on to defend their actions. ALEC, an organization that drafts model bills for conservative state lawmakers, has pushed for controversial "Stand Your Ground" and voter ID laws across the country.
From the April 13 edition of Fox News' America Live:
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Coca-Cola, one of its corporate sponsors, has cut ties with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) after advocacy group Color of Change had called for a boycott of Coca-Cola due to its ties with ALEC. And Fox hasn't wasted much time coming to ALEC's defense.
As the Huffington Post reported:
The soft-drink company has severed its tieswith the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, a conservative lobbying group that drafts legislation and sends it out to lawmakers. ALEC's fingerprints have been found on bills and laws in a number of states, and the group's opponents have grown resistant to what they call ALEC's efforts to shape the legislative agenda in a way that harms minority and low-income voters.
On Wednesday, the advocacy group Color of Change called for a boycott of Coca-Cola, one of the companies that sits on ALEC's elite Private Enterprise Board, citing ALEC's efforts to get voter ID laws passed.
In response, Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly interviewed ALEC communications director Kaityln Buss to discuss Coca-Cola's departure. Did Kelly ask about funding ALEC receives from the controversial Koch brothers? Did Kelly ask why ALEC was pushing for voter ID laws in the absence of evidence of voter fraud? Did Kelly ask about ALEC pushing the "Stand Your Ground" laws that have become infamous in the wake of the Trayvon Martin case?
No. She just provided a platform for ALEC to paint itself as innocuous.
During a speech yesterday to the Associated Press, President Obama described Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-WI) budget proposal as a "Trojan Horse" that is using the disguise of a deficit reduction plan, but is actually "an attempt to impose a radical vision on our country." Obama laid out the possible implications of the cuts in the Ryan budget "if the cuts were to be spread out evenly." Soon after, Ryan responded to the speech on his Facebook page suggesting that "the assumption that our budget makes these kinds of indiscriminate cuts is false."
And Fox News has Ryan's back.
On America Live, Fox News chief Washington correspondent Jim Angle, ostensibly part of Fox's "straight news" division, accused President Obama of using "sleight of hand" when describing the potential cuts under the Ryan budget. He went on to say Obama was "assuming across the boards cuts, but the cuts he mentioned are not part of the Ryan budget." Fox's analysis of Obama's speech is almost identical to Paul Ryan's response.
However, as Fox News contributor Sally Kohn pointed out later in the same show, Obama was filling in the blanks in Ryan's budget, which proposes large cuts in certain areas of federal spending but does not specify which programs should be cut.
Today, Fox's America Live aired a segment in which a panel discussed whether the media is giving president Obama "a pass on certain issues." The segment began with a discussion of Obama's recent comments to Dmitri Medvedev, in which he told the Russian president that he would have "more flexibility" to negotiate on the issue of missile defense after the November election. The panelists were Dana Perino, a Fox News host and former White House press secretary for President George W. Bush; Andy Card, former White House chief of staff under Bush; and Ed Gillespie, former Republican National Committee chair and counselor to Bush. America Live host Megyn Kelly moderated the panel.
Put another way: the discussion consisted of Kelly, who regularly pushes conservative positions, came to Fox "believing there was a left bias in the news," and has been criticized for showing "hints of her political outlook" from the anchor desk, along with three senior aides to Bush.
Near the beginning of the almost 11-minute segment, Kelly said to Perino: "It's been like fingernails on chalkboard for you to watch how the media reacts to President Obama making, you know -- having his open mic comment when President Bush got very different treatment after he had -- and let's just play it -- the following open mic comment with Russia." After Kelly played the clip of Bush, Perino said that Bush "was talking about getting Hezbollah -- Syria to help us get Hezbollah to stop attacking innocent people. To me that is very different than whispering sweet nothings into the ear of Dmitri Medvedev on an open mic right after a press session."
Gillespie and Card jumped in with criticism of Obama and praise for Bush on a variety of subjects. Since there were no progressives on for balance, there was no one to point out that Obama's comments were not all that controversial since, according to Obama, he was referring to the fact that anything he could do on missile defense would require bipartisan buy-in, which is not very likely during an election year.
The nearly 11-minute segment concluded with Perino, herself a Fox News host, saying: "It was great to be with friends."
Straight news, indeed.
Yesterday on Fox News, Dana Perino, former White House Press Secretary for President George W. Bush and current co-host of The Five, rebutted the notion that Republicans "just want to drill." She said: "If that were true, then you wouldn't have these DOE [Department of Energy] loans in the first place, because those were passed by a bipartisan Congress."
Perino is right that DOE's clean energy loan guarantee program was created by the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which was the product of a Republican-controlled Congress and President Bush. In fact, as Politifact noted, Bush was touting the program as late as January 6, 2009. His administration advanced Solyndra's application for a loan guarantee and Obama's American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 expanded and funded the program, including Solyndra's subsidy.
What's odd is that Fox has been criticizing Obama for pointing out this very same fact during his interview with Marketplace. Perino thinks Republicans deserve credit for creating the program. But when Obama says it, Fox claims he's "blaming" Republicans for Solyndra. In fact, right after Perino's comments, her co-hosts segued into bashing Obama for his remarks, with no one acknowledging the contradiction:
Fox even hosted Rep. Louis Gohmert (R-TX) and former Sen. George Allen (R-VA) to criticize Obama's comments, without ever mentioning that both these politicians voted in favor of the 2005 law that created the loan guarantee program.
Back in January Congressional Republicans ensured the rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline by imposing a review deadline that the Obama administration had said was not feasible. At the time, a GOP aide admitted to TPM that "It's a question of whether we'd rather have the pipeline or the issue." Ultimately, they chose to force the issue even though they knew it would likely delay or kill the pipeline. Fox News is displaying that same mindset now as Obama again announces support for the southern portion of the pipeline.
The message from Fox, as articulated by a Fox Nation headline, is that the Cushing pipeline from Oklahoma to Texas is "worthless" without the northern half of Keystone XL:
Either these Fox hosts are deliberately misleading their viewers or revealing just how shallow their understanding is of the oil pipeline they've been pushing for months. Fox has it backwards. As the State Department has explained, it's the southern portion, not the northern part of the pipeline, that oil producers really want right now:
There is currently excess cross-border pipeline capacity, but limited connections to the U.S. Gulf Coast refineries.
"Fair and balanced" Fox News informed its viewers that Ronald Reagan loved America, and Barack Obama doesn't.
In a segment Tuesday during one of its "news" shows, America Live, Megyn Kelly hosted pollster Scott Rasmussen and President Reagan's son Michael Reagan to discuss comments from Rick Santorum that Obama "doesn't believe America is a source for good." The segment featured a Rasmussen poll purporting to show that Americans agree with Santorum's assessment. The segment went on to falsely claim that Ronald Reagan never apologized for America, and insinuated that President Obama doesn't love the country that elected him.
The segment began with a clip of Rick Santorum speaking in Ronald Reagan's hometown of Dixon, Illinois, in which he declared: "We have a president who doesn't believe that America is a source for good. Ronald Reagan quoting John Winthrop's shining city on a hill. To President Obama, we are a source of policy that required this president to go around the world and repeatedly apologize for America and what they did -- we've done in this world. Ronald Reagan would never apologize for the greatest country in the history of the world." Then Kelly spoke:
KELLY: Santorum's enjoying that husky voice thing, isn't he? That was former Senator Rick Santorum speaking yesterday in Dixon, Illinois, Ronald Reagan's hometown, in front of a statue of Ronald Reagan on a horse. And a new poll suggests that a majority of Americans agree that this country is fair and decent, that shining city on a hill. In a new Rasmussen Reports poll, 64 percent of Americans say they think we live in a fair and decent society, 26 percent disagree. But take a look at this. The majority of Americans, when asked, believe thatPresident Obama sees this country as unfair and discriminatory.
Kelly then asked, "So what's up with the discrepancy?"
If Kelly wanted to know where Americans might have acquired such a notion, she should watch her own network. Fox News has repeatedly promoted claims that Obama is "selling out America," that he "has contempt for the history of America or America or Western civilization," that all he likes about America is that we elected him, that he has "malevolence" toward America, and that he has an "un-American, almost anti-American mentality."
From the March 6 edition of Fox News' America Live:
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Right-wing media are now resorting to mocking female university students' health care needs and their call that religiously affiliated colleges and universities provide access to contraceptives. But studies have found that numerous benefits (medical, social, and economic) exist in providing college-aged women -- the most vulnerable demographic for unintended pregnancies -- affordable access to contraception.
Fox News and right-wing blogs have promoted a chart that purports to show the "alarming" fact that national debt per person is higher in the United States than in several crisis-stricken European countries. This comparison is flawed because these countries' economies are fundamentally different -- a fact demonstrated by the substantially higher interest rates that the crisis countries using the euro must pay on their debt, compared to countries that can borrow in their own currency.
Yesterday's testimony by Attorney General Eric Holder before a House Appropriations subcommittee concluded without the theatrical fireworks that many of his recent appearances before Congress have included. The hearing was so comparably calm that Holder even mentioned that he appreciated the more even-keeled tone of the questions even though some were critical of his tenure at the Department of Justice.
So naturally the right-wing media cherry-picked a brief moment where Holder showed somewhat heightened emotions and made that moment the focus of their hearing coverage, saying Holder was "not able to hold back his emotions," and describing Holder "losing his cool" as he "slammed the table" in response to congressional questioning.
Fox News America Live host Megyn Kelly teased a segment on Holder's testimony by saying "wait until you hear what's ticking off Eric Holder today," later describing an exchange between Holder and Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-KS) by saying that Holder was "not able to hold back his emotions."
The Daily Caller's Matthew Boyle apparently found this angle so compelling that he wrote a highly derivative article adding little more than misleading hyperbole and bit of background information. Boyle has previously pushed a narrative of Holder of being unable to control his temper, claiming that he "lashe[d] out" during an exchange with a Daily Caller employee. In a separate article solely about complaints from conservative critics about this purported "loss of control," Boyle even paraphrased an activist suggesting Holder may be "dangerously unstable."
Boyle continued that depiction today, writing about the exchange with Rep. Yoder in an article headlined "Holder loses cool during House hearing when asked about the ATF's failed operation Fast and Furious." Boyle:
A visibly frustrated Attorney General Eric Holder slammed the table when responding to a question about Operation Fast and Furious during a Tuesday budget hearing before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies.
This is a highly exaggerated description of Holder's testimony, in which Holder forcefully said that he ordered use of the controversial gun-walking tactics associated with Operation Fast and Furious to be stopped as soon as he became aware of them. Watch the exchange highlighted by Boyle and Kelly:
Fox has been working hard lately to manufacture tension between religious groups and President Obama over the administration's rule providing access to birth control insurance. However, following the White House's announcement of an accommodation for religiously-affiliated employers with objections to the rule, Catholic Hospitals, Colleges, and Charities came out in support of the president on the birth control compromise. A wide range of Catholic, evangelical and mainline faith leaders also agree with the birth control rule as do the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, Sisters of Mercy, and NETWORK. So, you would think Fox would move on to a new topic.
Alas, Fox, with the help of the Republican Party, is still making the same arguments. In order to do so, Fox and the GOP are pretending that there is no religious support for Obama's birth control policy.
Today Fox's "straight news" division covered a House Oversight and Government Reform hearing on "Lines Crossed: Separation of Church and State. Has the Obama administration Trampled on Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Conscience?" The hearing, chaired by Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA), featured witnesses who oppose mandatory insurance coverage for birth control. However, the committee refused to allow supporters of the birth control policy to have their say. The hearing consisted of nine witnesses who opposed the birth control policy, but only gave Democrats one witness to tell the other side. Moreover, Issa rejected the witness the Democrats chose and made it impossible for two other Democratic witnesses to appear.
And Fox's "straight news" division coverage of the hearing was as diligent as Issa at ignoring religious support for the birth control rule. Fox News' America Live host Megyn Kelly showed clips of the hearing and said: "you've got a lot of Catholic and other religious leaders who are still saying 'you didn't get it done Mr. President. You should have talked to us beforehand.' " She, like the House GOP, failed to mention a single religious group that has come out in support of the birth control rule. Nor did she mention the fact that most Americans and Catholics support the birth control rule as well.
From the February 14 edition of Fox News' America Live:
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