Led by Sean Hannity, Fox News has devoted 4 hours and 40 minutes of its prime-time programming to cheerleading for a Nevada range war.
Media Matters examined Fox News' weekday programming from 4 p.m. through 11 p.m. ET since it first started covering the story.
Fox News began agitating for a range war on April 9, sympathetically portraying Cliven Bundy as a folk hero based on the Nevada rancher's refusal for two decades to pay the required fees for grazing his cattle on public land. While Nevada reporters have made clear that Bundy is "clearly wrong" and "breaking the law," Fox has waged a PR campaign romanticizing Bundy and the armed militia groups that fled to his ranch and forced a standoff with federal agents who were executing a court order that allowed them to impound his cattle.
Fox Radio hostTodd Starnes fanned the flames by implying that federal agents could be "strung up" for confiscating Bundy's cattle, regardless of a court order. Even after the Bureau of Land Management announced that it would return the cattle to Bundy, Hannity asked Bundy whether he was worried that government agents might kill him.
Hannity has effectively turned his Fox News show into a public-relations firm for Bundy and the militias backing him, dedicating more than 1 1/2 hours of coverage since April 9 to effectively agitating for armed conflict with the federal government.
Media Matters conducted a Nexis search of transcripts of Fox News programs from April 5th to April 17th. We identified and reviewed all segments that included any of the following keywords: Bundy, Nevada, ranch!, cattle, Bureau of Land Management. The search included the Fox programs The Five, Special Report, On the Record with Greta van Susteren, The O'Reilly Factor, The Kelly File, and Hannity.
Right-wing media responded to news that Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is resigning by lobbing personal attacks against the secretary and demonizing health care reform.
Fox News minimized the influence of political spending by the Koch brothers in order to paint Democrats as hypocrites on the issue of campaign finance.
After championing the impact Koch ad money has had on shaping public opinion on Obamacare during the April 10 edition of Fox News' Special Report, correspondent Doug McKelway hid the influence Koch Industries' funding actually has on elections. McKelway cited an OpenSecrets.org list of the "top all-time donors," emphasizing that despite the $30 million spent on advertisements, the list ranks Koch Industries as only 59th out of 156 donors. In an attempt to attack Democrats as hypocrites for their criticisms of the Koch brothers' political spending, McKelway highlighted the fact that the top donor on Open Secret's list was ActBlue, a Democratic PAC:
Desperate to keep its Benghazi hoax alive, Fox News went into overdrive to promote Senate GOP calls for a select committee to investigate the 2012 attacks in Libya, an effort replete with debunked myths and conspiracy theories.
Alongside Republican Senators Lindsey Graham (SC) and Kelly Ayotte (NH), on April 9 Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) demanded a special select committee to answer the trio's so-called "unanswered questions" surrounding the Benghazi attacks.
Right on cue, that evening Fox's Special Report dedicated over 15 minutes out of its hour-long program to the attacks, discussing Benghazi in a news segment, with a panel, and even hosting McCain himself to push debunked myths.
Several times in his interview with McCain, Baier pressed the senator on the need for a select committee to investigate, allowing the senator to claim, "In the Senate we've never done anything [on Benghazi] because of the Democrat majority, but obviously we wish that there had been a select committee":
Later, Fox's On The Record provided Sen. Graham with a platform to continue the push for a select committee investigation.
From the April 9 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier:
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From the April 8 edition of Fox News' Special Report:
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After Mitt Romney's loss in the 2012 presidential election, the GOP acknowledged it needed to change its stance on immigration and Hispanic outreach. But conservative media figures lashed out at Jeb Bush after he expressed compassion for undocumented immigrants.
From the April 1 edition of Fox News' Special Report:
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Determined to undermine positive news about successful enrollment in health coverage through the Affordable Care Act, Fox News drastically downplayed the number of previously uninsured Americans who have gained coverage through the ACA.
Fox News will air an attack on President Obama in a program called Surrendering America, which is premised on myths and falsehoods about the Internet, the defense budget, the changed mission for NASA, and U.S. fossil fuel production and exports.
Fox New's Shannon Bream misleadingly framed a case challenging reproductive rights in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) before the Supreme Court as an abortion issue when in fact the case deals with the inclusion of contraceptives, not abortion, as essential services under employer provided insurance.
On the March 25 edition of Special Report, Supreme Court correspondent Shannon Bream reported on oral arguments before the Supreme Court in the Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby case, which has to do with Hobby Lobby's desire to avoid the ACA's contraception mandate. Bream introduced the segment by claiming the case had to do with "abortion and Obamacare, two controversial topics that stir heated passions," later adding, "and that is just what happened both inside and outside the Supreme Court today":
Despite Fox's framing, the case is about contraception, not abortion. While Hobby Lobby has attempted to claim that their opposition to contraception is based on the belief that they are the equivalent of abortifacients, medical experts have explained that they are not. According to institutions such as the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics, contraceptives such as the morning-after pill do not "terminate established pregnancies":
In federal law and medical terms, pregnancy does not begin with a fertilized egg, but with a fertilized egg that has implanted in the uterus. The contraceptives in question--Plan B, Ella, copper and hormonal IUDs--do not cause abortions as the plaintiffs maintain, because they are not being used to terminate established pregnancies.
Since the FDA approved Plan B in 1999, repeated studies have shown the drug does not inhibit implantation. After The New York Times' Pam Belluck investigated these findings in 2012, the NIH and the Mayo Clinic updated their websites to remove the implantation clause. In Europe, the label for the drug Norlevo, which is identical to Plan B, has already been changed to reflect the most recent research. And the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics and the International Consortium for Emergency Contraception have issued statements saying levonorgestrel-only emergency contraceptives do not stop implantation.
In fact, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, abortion coverage is "specifically banned from being required as part of the essential benefits package offered by plans in exchanges and all of the exchanges must offer consumers the choice of at least one plan that does not provide abortion coverage". Furthermore, the contraceptives objected to by Hobby Lobby are deemed contraceptives and not abortifacients by medical experts at the National Institute of Health, the Mayo Clinic and the International Federation of Gynecology.
Right-wing media personalities continued their tradition of attacking President Obama for filling out NCAA college basketball brackets, this time attacking Obama for filling it out while Russia annexed Crimea.
From the March 19 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier:
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Fox News anchor Bret Baier erroneously claimed that low income Americans not covered by the Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) must pay the law's penalty for not having health insurance despite the ACA's explicit exemption for those individuals.
On the March 18 edition of Fox News' Special Report, Baier aired a segment highlighting those Americans who would be left without health insurance, even though the uninsured population will be reduced. He then claimed those who were supposed to be covered by the law's Medicaid expansion, but live in GOP-led states that opted out of the expansion, would be forced to pay the law's penalty for being uninsured:
BAIER: For those people, they not only face the prospect of not having health insurance coverage despite Obamacare, but now they will have to pay a penalty because of it.
But Baier is wrong. The ACA allows people in states which have opted out of Medicaid expansion, but would have qualified for Medicaid under that expansion, to apply for a hardship exemption which waives the penalty fee for those citizens. In fact, HealthCare.gov explicitly lists this in their application for a hardship exemption:
Fox News relied on a longtime Republican donor with a spotty ethical record to claim that a federal conspiracy case relating to a Washington businessman with a remote connection to advisers of Hillary Clinton should "raise red flags" for a potential presidential run in 2016. The network identified the donor as a "former U.S. attorney" and failed to mention the source's long history of purveying partisan fabrications, including against the Clintons.
Jeffrey Thompson, a Washington, D.C. businessman, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to pump more than $2 million in illegal donations into the campaigns of D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray (D) and several federal campaigns over a six-year period. Thompson alleged that he secretly spent more than $600,000 on canvassers and campaign materials related to Hillary Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign. Prosecutors have said that Clinton was not aware of Thompson's activity.
A spokesman for Moore has said she was unaware that he was running his campaign off the books.
On the March 11 edition of Fox News' Special Report, correspondent Doug McKelway reported on the story, noting that "a former U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia says it raises red flags for a presumptive presidential candidate." McKelway then played a clip of Joseph diGenova, who said, "The fact that Hillary Clinton's campaign approached Thompson knew [sic] that they knew that he was a source of large sums of money, knew that he could be counted on like most of the Democrats that he was supporting, he could be counted on to give large sums of money. And it is inconceivable to me that the details of that will not come out."
Fox's identification of diGenova as a "former U.S. attorney" is wholly inadequate. First and foremost, diGenova has historically maintained a tenuous relationship with the truth. Most recently, right-wing media ran with diGenova's false claims that the Obama administration deliberately withheld military assistance during the 2012 attacks on a U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya, (diGenova represents a number of Benghazi "whistleblowers"). DiGenova was also involved in false attacks against the Clinton family as far back as 1998, when then-Washington Post reporter Howard Kurtz reported that diGenova and his wife, Victoria Toensing, were responsible for a retracted Dallas Morning News article about Monica Lewinsky.
Fox also failed to mention that their latest Clinton critic is a longtime Republican and a GOP donor. DiGenova and his wife both identify as Republicans and served as advisers to GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney in 2008. DiGenova has donated at least $18,000 to GOP candidates and causes.
By identifying diGenova simply by his former profession, Fox leaves the impression that he's being cited for his expertise in the law.