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A New York Times essay by Jason DeParle highlighted a resurgence of the use of the word "welfare" among conservatives, this time to attack President Obama's economy recovery plan. Indeed, while economists agree that provisions in the legislation targeting needy people are among the most economically stimulative, Media Matters documents below the pervasiveness of what DeParle called the "weaponiz[ation]" of the "very word, welfare," in the media, particularly, but not exclusively on Fox News, to denounce the stimulus bill.
Fox News' Shepard Smith falsely suggested that a $500 individual tax credit, reportedly included in President-elect Barack Obama's proposed economic recovery plan, would benefit people who don't currently pay taxes, asking, "I know we don't know the details yet, but $300 billion in tax cuts -- how do you cut taxes on people who don't pay taxes?" In fact, all American workers are required to pay taxes on their wages for Social Security and Medicare under the Federal Insurance Contributions Act.
Several media outlets have used data that combines the average cost of current wages and benefits and future benefits to falsely assert or suggest that autoworkers make $70 or more per hour. But, as analysts and some media outlets have noted, the figure includes not only future retirement benefits for current workers, but also benefits paid to current retirees.
After airing video of Gov. Sarah Palin's misleading assertion that Sen. Barack Obama "voted 94 times for higher taxes," Fox News' Shepard Smith affirmed Palin's claim, saying, "Well, they'll [Democrats] argue with that, but I guess down to its core, that's true." However, Smith offered no support for his purported confirmation of Palin's assertion, and FactCheck.org has described the claim as "inflated" and "padded."
On numerous May 8 programs, Fox News anchors and reporters promoted the notion that Sen. John McCain is reluctant to discuss his experience as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. In fact, as Media Matters for America has documented, McCain has repeatedly highlighted that experience.
Despite the availability of expenditure reports showing that Sen. John McCain's campaign used a corporate jet owned by his wife's company over a seven-month period beginning in the summer of 2007, several members of the media asserted earlier this year that McCain flew coach when the campaign was low on funds.
On Studio B, after Dan Gerstein noted that Sen. John McCain "confused Sunni and Shia," Shepard Smith asserted, "[I]t's not as if he misspoke three times about the exact same thing, about gunfire in Bosnia." In fact, McCain made the admittedly false claim that Iranian operatives were training Al Qaeda for fighting in Iraq three times over the course of two days.
Echoing the assertion that Sen. John McCain simply "misspoke" when he falsely claimed during a March 18 press conference that Iran is training Al Qaeda, Fox News' Shepard Smith said, "I mean, as much as these people talk, and ad-lib and live speeches and all the rest, slip-ups like that can happen." In fact, McCain had previously made the same misstatement to radio host Hugh Hewitt and did so more than once during the press conference.
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Following President Bush's address to the nation on Iraq, Fox was the only broadcast network not to air the Democratic response. Instead, Shepard Smith gave a short description of the response and stated: "Our coverage continues on the Fox News Channel on cable and satellite with the Democratic response and more. Right now, back to your local Fox programming." ABC, NBC, and CBS all aired the Democratic response.
Shepard Smith falsely suggested that the word "sick" was used repeatedly by a page to describe sexually explicit instant messages allegedly sent by former Rep. Mark Foley rather than less explicit emails that House GOP leaders have characterized simply as "overly friendly." In fact, an underage page described as "sick, sick, sick" the emails to which the House leadership had access nearly a year ago.
In announcing that Joseph Wilson and Valerie Plame had filed a lawsuit against Dick Cheney, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, and Karl Rove, Fox News host Shepard Smith uncritically stated that Robert Novak "was on this network yesterday saying there was no concerted campaign to out Plame as a way of punishing her husband." But Smith omitted special counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald's findings that a "concerted action" by "multiple people in the White House" had been intended to "discredit, punish or seek revenge against" Wilson.