Fox News figures are dismissing the voices of the families who suffered in a mass shooting in Newtown, CT by claiming they're being used and exploited by Democrats, discounting the efforts they have made to encourage Congress to pass stronger gun laws.
On April 11, the Senate overcame a Republican-led filibuster that tried to block the beginning of debate on stronger gun laws with a 68-31 vote. The impetus for the new gun proposals was driven by the December mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut that left 26 victims dead, most of them young children. President Obama had been urging Congress to act to strengthen guns laws in response to the shooting for some time.
According to several Fox News figures, Obama has been using the families of the Newtown shooting victims as props for a political agenda.
On April 11, Fox News host Sean Hannity called the effort to strengthen gun laws "naked exploitation of dead children and grieving families," while his guest Ann Coulter said that Democrats are "play[ing] with these victims." The previous night, Hannity stated that the president "is once again using families of tragedy as props for his agenda." Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade said on his April 11 radio show that Obama is "using the Newtown families to push for background checks." Fox News White House reporter Ed Henry similarly said on April 9 that "for the second straight day, the White House used the victims of the Newtown tragedy to make their case." On his April 9 radio show, Fox News host Mike Huckabee suggested that taking some of the relatives of the Newtown shooting victims to Washington, DC on Air Force One to make their case for stronger gun laws was "an exploitation of those parents."
Such an attitude does a disservice to the many Newtown families that want tougher gun laws in the wake of their tragedies. Several of the families appeared on CBS' 60 Minutes on April 7 to discuss what kind of gun violence prevention measures they would like to see signed into law, saying that universal background checks and a ban on high-capacity magazines were important. After the vote that broke the GOP's threatened filibuster, more than 30 families of Newtown victims released a statement criticizing those who tried block an up-or-down vote on new gun legislation, saying that "[t]he senators who have vowed to filibuster this bill should be ashamed of their attempt to silence efforts to prevent the next American tragedy."
Fox News host Mike Huckabee warned on his radio show that the government could be planning to confiscate firearms in order to launch a dictatorship after a caller compared conditions in the United States today to those in Nazi Germany.
On the April 3 edition of The Mike Huckabee Show, Huckabee defended a caller's claim about firearm confiscation in Nazi Germany as "the truth." He added, "In every society and culture where dictators take over, one of the things they have to do is get control of the military and the police and ultimately all of the citizens and make sure the citizens are disarmed and can't fight in the streets. Gosh I hope it doesn't come to that."
According to Huckabee, if the government were to confiscate privately owned firearms, "there's not a whole lot we can do about it other than just plan to die in the course of resistance":
CALLER: I'm very concerned, it seems like there's so many people who have not read and do not understand how quickly Germany was turned into, it was a democracy, then turned into a dictatorship by everyone having to register their guns and then they went door to door and collected them.
HUCKABEE: People do forget that. And by the way, [caller] know, that when you bring that up you get people who get crazy on us, and they'll start saying, "Oh there you go comparing to the Nazis." And I understand the reaction, but it's the truth. You cannot take people's rights away if they're resisting and if they have the means to resist, but once they're disarmed and the people who are trying to take over have all the power, not just political, not just financial, but they have the physical power to domesticate us and to subjugate us to our will there's not a whole lot we can do about it other than just plan to die in the course of resistance. It's very true [caller], and I appreciate you bringing it up. I know that people are probably calling and saying you know you shouldn't have brought that up. In every society and culture where dictators take over, one of the things they have to do is get control of the military and the police and ultimately all of the citizens and make sure the citizens are disarmed and can't fight in the streets. Gosh I hope it doesn't come to that.
The Senate legislative package to reduce gun violence does not involve the confiscation of firearms, instead it calls for expanding background checks, adding missing records to the current background check system, cracking down on gun trafficking, and improving school security.
Huckabee's acceptance of the caller's view of what happened in Nazi Germany as "the truth" is also ahistorical. As Salon's Alex Seitz-Wald noted in a January 11 article, "the notion that Hitler confiscated everyone's guns is mostly bogus." In fact, Hitler loosened gun laws for his political allies while banning firearms for the people he wished to oppress, which is an indictment of fascistic policies -- not gun violence prevention laws.
From the March 2 edition of Fox & Friends Saturday:
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From the February 23 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends Saturday:
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Fox News contributor Karl Rove recently formed a group that will, in the words of The New York Times, work "to recruit seasoned candidates and protect Senate incumbents from challenges by far-right conservatives and Tea Party enthusiasts." That doesn't sit well with Rove's Fox News colleague Mike Huckabee, who called Rove's Conservative Victory Project "absolutely repulsive" and suggested that people like Rove are spending millions "to destroy a Republican that you don't think is up to your country club level" during a February 8 interview.
Listen to Huckabee's comments from Cumulus Radio Networks' Geraldo:
RIVERA: Karl Rove says the Republican Party has to go through a metamorphosis, has to change. You know Bill Kristol says wait a second, the Tea Party's not so bad. Where do you stand?
HUCKABEE: I think Karl needs to go through a metamorphosis. You know this idea that somehow a handful of Republicans are going to attack Republicans that the handful doesn't like? I find that repulsive. I find it absolutely repulsive. This is not how you build a strong Republican Party, is by going after the people in your party who are different than you are. This is fratricide. And if the Republican Party wants to render itself utterly, utterly irrelevant, the best way to do it is to become several little parties within the party, which is apparently what some folks seem to think we ought to do. When you marginalize the Tea Party, marginalize the pro-life and pro-family part of the party, you lose every election coming up in the future. You lose every election. There may be a few local elections that you might win in some places outside the base of the party, but you're not going to win a national election again.
HUCKABEE: If you're going to spend millions of dollars, spend it to build up your Republican, the one you like, not millions to destroy a Republican that you don't think is up to your country club level. I find that just horrendous. [Cumulus Radio Networks, Geraldo, 2/8/13]
Huckabee joins numerous other conservative pundits, including Fox News contributors, who have criticized Rove's project for favoring the Republican establishment over conservative principles.
Fox News host Mike Huckabee is irked at President Obama for converting his campaign apparatus into a tax-exempt non-profit advocacy group. Appearing on Fox & Friends Saturday, the former Arkansas governor admonished the president by saying: "Fine, go ahead and have your organization. Pay taxes on it like the rest of us have to when we get out and speak in our businesses and personal lives."
This is nonsense. Huckabee has his own tax-exempt political action committee, Huck PAC, that he has hyped up on Fox News and uses to "promote conservative principles and help elect conservative candidates at every level of government." Indeed, Huckabee has made ample use of tax-exempt groups throughout his political career and actually has a sketchy history with non-profits.
Back when he was lieutenant governor of Arkansas, Huckabee and his allies formed a non-profit group that had just two functions: to pay for Mike Huckabee to travel across the country bashing health care reform, and to pay Mike Huckabee. The New York Times reported in December 2007, when Huckabee was running for president, that Huckabee had been losing money serving as lieutenant governor, and "to bridge the gap between his income and his expenses, Mr. Huckabee and a few close political advisers came up with a plan. They formed a nonprofit organization that raised money for Mr. Huckabee to travel the country promoting conservative politics to fellow ministers and attacking Hillary Rodham Clinton's health care plan."
The group, Action America, existed for only three years and paid Huckabee a total of $61,500 -- money that Huckabee failed to disclose, drawing a "letter of caution" from the Arkansas Ethics Commission.
From the December 17 edition of MSNBC's PoliticsNation:
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Fox host and former governor Mike Huckabee attempted to walk back his comments linking a lack of religion in schools to Friday's tragic shooting in Newtown, CT. But while Huckabee now claims that he did not suggest "prayer in schools" would have prevented the shooting, he indeed seemed to imply that religion in schools could have done as much in his remarks on Friday.
On Friday, Huckabee responded to a question about God from Fox host Neil Cavuto by linking the removal of "God from our schools" to mass school shootings.
On Fox & Friends Saturday, he attempted to clarify his comments, saying, "Yesterday, I was on Neil Cavuto. He asked me, you know, where was God? I said, you know, we've systematically removed him from our culture, from our schools. Well, I've been barraged by people who have said that I said, well, if we just have prayer in schools, this wouldn't happen. That's not my point."
HUCKABEE: No, my point is a larger point -- that we have as a culture decided that we don't want to have values, that we don't want to say that some things are always right, some things are always wrong. When we divorce ourselves from a basic sense of what we would call, I would say, collective morality where we agree on certain principles to be true always, then we create a culture -- not that it specifically creates this crime. It doesn't. But it creates an atmosphere in which evil and violence are removed from our sense of responsibility.
From the December 14 edition of Fox News' Your World:
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From the November 6 edition of Fox News' America's Election Headquarters:
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From the October 22 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
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Conservative media figures and outlets have sent out to their email lists numerous paid fundraising solicitations from "scam PACs" whose directors are apparently looking to cash in on the election season.
Politico reports today that a new "cottage industry" has sprung up during the presidential race in which vaguely-named super PACs have used major Republican national campaigns like Rep. Allen West's re-election bid in Florida to "raise money for themselves and build their email lists."
The groups have been sending out fundraising pitches promising to help West or defeat Obama in November, but "those chunks of $25 and $50 don't often find their way to any serious campaigns to beat Obama or boost West." The article quotes West's campaign attorney saying that the "vast majority of the groups that we know are engaged in this have done nothing for West."
As explained by Politico, "political operatives can create a PAC and corresponding website on the cheap, drop some cash to rent an email list and, voilà-- in come the small-dollar contributions from grass-roots Republicans."
Conservative outlets like RedState and Townhall and media figures like Dick Morris and Mike Huckabee have been enabling these so-called "scam PACs" by renting out their email lists for these fundraising pitches.
Fox News host Mike Huckabee falsely said that Sesame Street receives $455 million in federal subsidies and that the Obama administration did not exempt religious institutions from having to provide contraception coverage to employees. In fact, Sesame Workshop, the production company of Sesame Street, receives only about $7 million in government contributions, and the administration exempted religious institutions from its reproductive health mandate.
Huckabee appeared on Your World Friday to discuss President Obama's position on taxes. During his appearance, Huckabee criticized Obama for highlighting Romney's promise to cut funding for Big Bird, saying that Big Bird is "a millionaire Muppet," and that the Sesame Street franchise receives "a $455 million federal subsidy."
However, as Slate reported in January, "Sesame Street and its production company the Sesame Workshop do make a lot of money from product licensing, but not nearly enough to cover expenses." Indeed, according to the company's most recent available federal tax returns, Sesame Workshop lost $6 million in 2010: Total revenue that year was about $133 million, but expenses added up to more than $139 million. As for a federal subsidy, according to the most recent tax returns, Sesame Workshop received about $7 million in government contributions -- only about 5 percent of its total revenue. The majority of Sesame Street's funding comes from donors.
Huckabee's claim that "there was no" religious accommodation for the Obama administration's reproductive health mandate is also false. In January, the Obama administration announced that nonprofit employers, including those connected to religious organizations, would be required to provide health insurance coverage for "preventive services for women including recommended contraceptive services without charging a co-pay, co-insurance or a deductible." After religious leaders protested the move, the Obama administration exempted churches and other religious groups from the mandate.
From the October 12 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom:
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Fox News host Mike Huckabee argued today that creating jobs for teachers for the sake of boosting U.S. employment would be "nonsensical." In doing so, he ignored the sustained massive layoffs of teachers across the country since the end of the recession and the subsequent ramifications. In fact, there is every need to hire teachers during this recovery and not just because "you want to make some jobs," as Huckabee claimed.
Huckabee was responding to comments by President Obama calling on Republicans to pass his jobs plan, which Obama said "could create a million new jobs right now," including jobs for teachers and construction workers. Huckabee replied by saying:
HUCKABEE: The federal government doesn't hire teachers. Where do teachers get hired? Local school boards. Education is a local function not a federal function. It is not the job of the federal government to hire teachers.
And the other question is: Do you hire teachers 'cause you just want to make some jobs or do you hire teachers 'cause you actually need them 'cause you have more kids in the classroom than you had last year? That's a nonsensical kind of approach to job creation -- let's make some work, and let's just go into more debt to do it.
In fact, Obama was not asking the federal government to hire teachers; he was accurately noting the role government can play in staving off public sector job losses, which experts contend have played an especially detrimental role in swelling unemployment. From the Wall Street Journal:
The unemployment rate would be far lower if it hadn't been for those cuts: If there were as many people working in government as there were in December 2008, the unemployment rate in April would have been 7.1%, not 8.1%.
Ceteris is rarely paribus, of course: If there were more government jobs now, for example, it's likely that not as many people would have left the labor force, and so the actual unemployment rate would be north of 7.1%.
According to the Hamilton Project, teachers accounted for 220,000 of these public sector job loses from 2009 to 2011, a decline of 5.6 percent.
The Economy Policy Institute estimated that had the Jobs Act been enacted, "[a]id to state governments for rehiring teachers and first responders would have boosted employment by an additional 210,000 jobs," and that "[i]n total, full passage of the American Jobs Act would have increased employment by more than 1.6 million jobs."