Republican presidential candidates Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee are being called out by the media for making false and misleading claims during CNN's Republican presidential debate about side deals, inspection criteria, and sanctions relief in the Iran nuclear deal.
Numerous conservative media outlets are parroting the misleading conclusions of a September 2015 report by an anti-immigrant nativist group, the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), which claims that "immigrant households use welfare at significantly higher rates than native households." Like previous flawed CIS studies, these findings have been called into question by immigration experts for failing to account for the economic hardship of some immigrant families, lumping American-born beneficiaries into "immigrant household" categorizations, and conflating numerous anti-poverty programs with so-called "welfare."
Right-wing media have praised former Florida Governor and possible 2016 Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush's 1999 executive action eliminating race-based affirmative action in higher education admissions. Now, a new report from The Washington Post finds that black student enrollment is in decline at two of Florida's largest four-year schools.
Conservative media outlets have repeatedly asserted that the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) - federal legislation that would ban employment discrimination against LGBT workers - discriminates against Christian businesses, but a new report from PolitiFact has rated that claim "False."
On December 16, PolitiFact evaluated a fundraising email from the Traditional Values Coalition (TVC) which claimed that ENDA would unfairly punish Christian businesses. PolitiFact rated TVC's claim "false," noting that ENDA includes religious exemptions that are actually more generous than those contained in other federal non-discrimination laws.
PolitiFact also noted that non-religious businesses operated by religious individuals have to comply with the law regardless of the business owner's faith (emphasis added):
Under Title VII [of the Civil Rights Act of 1964], and therefore under ENDA, religious organizations, which need not be church-run, would be exempt. Additionally, all businesses with fewer than 15 employees are exempt, whether they're religious or not.
Nelson Tebbe, a professor at Brooklyn Law School who specializes in religious liberty, said ENDA's religious exemption exceeds Title VII's.
"It's broader because the religious exemption in Title VII only allows religious organizations to discriminate [against LGBT individuals] on the basis of religion," he said. But it doesn't allow religious groups to discriminate based on factors like an employee's gender or race.
So by permitting religious organizations to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, ENDA allows them more flexibility than Title VII.
The bill's religious exemption indicates that churches, church-run initiatives and other religious businesses need not comply by employing people of all sexualities and gender identities. And there's no special negative treatment for Christians.
Businesses of any religion could qualify for the exemption. Individuals of any faith who oppose sexuality would have to abide by the law, so no religion is singled out.
We rate this claim False.
The myth that ENDA would discriminate against Christian businesses has been widely debunked, but that hasn't stopped the lie from gaining prominence among right-wing media outlets.
Media outlets are ramping up their pushback against a highly questionable PolitiFact Virginia analysis of the proposed elimination of no-fault divorce law supported by Ken Cuccinelli, the Republican candidate for governor of Virginia and favorite of "father's rights" groups.
PolitiFact ignored Mitt Romney's repeated statements about the auto industry to criticize President Obama for saying during the third presidential debate that Romney opposed government assistance for U.S. auto companies.
During the debate, Obama said to Romney, "You were very clear that you would not provide government assistance to the U.S. auto companies even if they went through bankruptcy. You said that they could get it in the private marketplace. That wasn't true."
PolitiFact declared Obama's statement "mostly false." In its analysis, PolitiFact spent a great deal of time trying to parse a phrase from Romney's widely discussed 2008 New York Times op-ed on the subject of the auto industry rescue. In the op-ed, Romney stated: "The federal government should provide guarantees for post-bankruptcy financing."
But PolitiFact ignored other remarks from Romney on the subject. As The New Republic's Jonathan Cohn noted, Romney clearly stated in a November 2011 Republican primary debate that the auto industries should have been forced to go bankrupt without any government involvement.
When asked by CNBC's John Harwood about his op-ed, Romney responded, in part:
My view with regards to the bailout was that whether it was by President Bush or by President Obama, it was the wrong way to go. I said from the very beginning they should go through a managed bankruptcy process, a private bankruptcy process.
We have capital markets and bankruptcy, it works in the U.S. The idea of billions of dollars being wasted initially then finally they adopted the managed bankruptcy, I was among others that said we ought to do that.
My plan, we would have had a private sector bailout with the private sector restructuring and bankruptcy with the private sector guiding the direction as opposed to what we had with government playing its heavy hand. [emphasis added]
Likewise, in a February Detroit News op-ed attacking the auto industry rescue, Romney portrayed government intervention as having been forced onto GM and Chrysler, rather than something they were in dire need of. Romney wrote positively of managed bankruptcies for the companies, but then said, "Before the companies were allowed to enter and exit bankruptcy, the U.S. government swept in with an $85 billion sweetheart deal disguised as a rescue plan. By the spring of 2009, instead of the free market doing what it does best, we got a major taste of crony capitalism, Obama-style."
Romney also once told reporters that it "would have been best had the auto companies gone through the bankruptcy process without having taken $17 billion from government."
In reality, government intervention is the only thing that kept the companies alive. Many experts, including the chief economist for the industry's think tank, the Center for Automotive Research, have said that a bankruptcy could have meant liquidation for the auto companies because a private restructuring was impossible. When the rescue was taking place during the 2008-2009 financial crisis, credit markets were frozen and private financing was unavailable.
Fox News is distorting President Obama's economic agenda by pushing the straw-man argument that taxing the entirety of millionaires' incomes would fund the government for less than three months. In fact, Obama has proposed no such thing, and this Republican talking point obscures the billions in revenue that would be generated from letting the Bush tax cuts expire for wealthy households.
Politifact, the St.Petersburg Times fact-checking organization, has unveiled its annual "lie of the year" for 2011: the statement that "Republicans voted to end Medicare." This designation is deeply flawed, given that the assertion that "Republicans voted to end Medicare" is arguably a true statement.
But that isn't all that was wrong with Politifact's decision. Politifact's Editor Bill Adair wrote an editor's note trying to explain why Politifact's editors did not choose something else as their "lie of the year." And the explanation rings hollow.
Regarding the false claim that the stimulus created "zero jobs" (the winner in Politifact's reader poll), Politifact stated that "it was more a falsehood from last year." Similarly, regarding the false claim that Obama has traveled the world and "apologized for America," Adair noted that Romney says this repeatedly but claimed that "it wasn't picked up much by other candidates and didn't reach critical mass."
When asked about his explanation about the "zero jobs" lie by Media Matters' Joe Strupp, Adair said that the Lie of the Year "is a subjective decision of Politifact editors. ... [I]t's not based on data points."
Given how often the lies about the stimulus and the Obama apology tour were repeated by conservatives, it may have been helpful for Politifact to look at "data points" rather than just their editors' "subjective" sense of how widespread the lie was.
From the December 21 edition of Fox News' America Live
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In naming as its 2011 "Lie of the Year" a statement that is, at worst, arguably true, Politifact has inadvertently said more about itself and the media's failure to adequately combat the lies and deception that act as a cancer on American democracy.
Politifact's assertion that it is a lie to say "Republicans voted to end Medicare" -- and that this is the most important lie of the year -- suffers from some basic flaws: Republicans did, in fact, vote to end Medicare; and Politifact overlooked actual lies that have had and continue to have a profound and debilitating effect on the nation's attempts to come out of lingering economic troubles.
Politifact's "Lie of the Year" announcement provides little in the way of actual evidence that the claim is a lie, instead referring readers to previous efforts for its substantive case, such as it is. The weakness of Politifact's ruling that the House GOP budget written by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) did not "end Medicare" can be seen in its April 20, 2011, explanation:
One of the its major features is dramatically restructuring Medicare, the government-run health insurance program for those 65 and older. Right now, Medicare pays doctors and hospitals set fees for the care beneficiaries receive. [...] In 2022 [under the GOP plan] new beneficiaries would receive "premium support," which means they would buy plans from private insurance companies with financial assistance from the government. [...]the Republican plan would be a huge change to the current program, and seniors would have to pay more for their health plans if it becomes law. [...] Both Republicans and Democrats would no doubt agree that Ryan's plan for Medicare is a dramatic change of course. But we don't agree with the ad's contention that the proposal ends Medicare.
So, according to Politifact, the House Republican plan constitutes a "dramatic restructuring" of Medicare, a "huge change to the current program," and a "dramatic change of course" by ending the direct payment of fees for service and replacing it with a voucher program. In its "Lie of the Year" write-up, Politifact again concedes the GOP plan "dramatically changed the program [for people currently under age 55] by privatizing it and providing government subsidies." That's ending Medicare, just as replacing the armed services with government vouchers for private bodyguards would be ending the U.S. military. As Igor Volsky wrote earlier this month, "closing the traditional fee-for-service program, and forcing seniors to enroll in new private coverage, ends Medicare by eliminating everything that has defined the program for the last 46 years."
But Politifact concluded in April that "we don't agree [...] that the proposal ends Medicare." That should set off some alarm bells: As fact-checks go, "we don't agree" is remarkably weak tea. As justification for naming something the "Lie of the Year," it's an embarrassment.
Paul Krugman and Dan Kennedy and Steve Benen and Jonathan Cohn and Jonathan Chait and Matthew Yglesias and David Weigel, among countless others, have debunked Politifact's ruling, which holds that as long as something called "Medicare" has something to do with health care for the elderly, it's a lie to say the program has ended, no matter how "dramatic" the "change of course" has been. Even Robert VerBruggen of the conservative National Review has written that Politifact "does not make a good case" and that the Democratic claim does not "rise to the level of 'lie,' much less 'Lie of the Year.'"
The incoherence of Politifact's ruling is driven home by its repeated statements that the claim "end Medicare as we know it" is significantly different from -- and more justifiable than -- the statement "end Medicare." This is nonsensical hair-splitting. Medicare isn't a broad concept; it's a specific, concrete program. Ending it "as we know it" is ending it. Otherwise, ending it would require ending it as we don't know it, which would be a neat trick. (Revealingly, Politifact has been confused by their own hair-splitting: After having declared "as we know it" a crucial qualifier on multiple occasions, they shifted course and claimed "the GOP proposal does not 'end Medicare as we know it.'")
As part of the network's ongoing attempt to defend the richest Americans from paying even a penny more in taxes, Fox personalities have described Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's (D-NV) proposed surtax on the rich as "class warfare." At the same time, Fox is hyping Herman Cain's 9-9-9 plan, which would raise taxes on poor and middle-income families.
Fox & Friends promoted a GOP-backed effort to repeal sections of a 2007 law setting efficiency standards for light bulbs, falsely suggesting that the law bans incandescent bulbs and featuring on-screen screen text that stated: "Don't touch our bulbs!" In fact, the law only restricts the sale of inefficient incandescent light bulbs, not all incandescent bulbs, as Fox & Friends suggested.
The Urban Institute recently published a report contradicting the claim often pushed by Fox News that the health care reform law will "kill jobs." But Fox's Bill Hemmer nevertheless used the institute's report to attack health care reform and its "effect on jobs."