After Director of National Intelligence James Clapper gave congressional testimony that echoed President Obama's recent statements about the threat that al Qaeda poses, Fox News host Bret Baier claimed that the testimony was a "direct contradiction" to the president's description of the threat posed by the terrorist organization.
On the February 11 edition of Fox News' Special Report, Baier reported on Clapper's testimony earlier in the day before the Senate Armed Service Committee, in which Clapper testified that al Qaeda is "morphing and franchising itself" throughout the world. Baier categorized Clapper's testimony as a "direct contradiction" to what President Obama has said about the terrorist group in the past:
BAIER: A direct contradiction today from the nation's top intelligence chief, to what president Obama has said about al Qaeda. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told a Senate committee today previous assessments from the president are not accurate.
Baier appeared to suggest that Obama's past claims that al Qaeda was "on the run," made several times during the 2012 campaign, are in contradiction to Clapper's testimony. But Baier failed to note Obama's most recent statements on the terrorist organization. In fact, Clapper's testimony before the Senate that al Qaeda is a "morphing" threat that is "franchising itself" in several countries is similar to recent statements from President Obama. In his State of the Union address last month, Obama acknowledged that al Qaeda still posed a threat to the United States, a threat that he said has "evolved": (emphasis added)
While we've put al-Qaida's core leadership on a path to defeat, the threat has evolved as al-Qaida affiliates and other extremists take root in different parts of the world. In Yemen, Somalia, Iraq, Mali, we have to keep working with partners to disrupt and disable these networks.
On the February 7 edition of Fox News' Special Report, guest host Chris Wallace set up a segment on proposed carbon emission regulations by protesting that "President Obama has declared climate change a fact," despite "objections from many dissenters."
Correspondent Doug McKelway followed up with a report that continued to cast doubt on the existence of climate change and featured a professional climate misinformer, Climate Depot's Marc Morano, whose financial ties to the fossil fuel industry went undisclosed.
Of course, it wasn't just Obama who declared "climate change a fact" -- scientists did. In fact, a full 97 percent of climate experts "agree humans are causing global warming."
After the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released new estimates of the Affordable Care Act's (ACA) impact on labor markets, the Associated Press' Julie Pace claimed there were "two different ways" to characterize the report: the Republican characterization, and the White House's position. But there's a major problem with Pace's false balance -- only the White House's position is backed up by the facts.
On February 4, the non-partisan CBO released its Budget and Economic Outlook for the years 2014 to 2024. One section of the report projected that the number of full-time-equivalent workers would decline by about 2 million over the next three years due to the impact of the ACA. Conservative media quickly declared that the report showed 2 million jobs would be destroyed.
During a panel discussion on the February 4 edition of Fox News' Special Report, guest host Shannon Bream asked Julie Pace, the Associated Press (AP) White House correspondent, to spell out the details of the new CBO report and what the White House said about it. Pace explained:
PACE: Basically what you have is two different ways of characterizing this report. If you talk to Republicans, they say there are going to be nearly 2.5 million jobs that are going to be lost over a decade because of the Affordable Care Act. If you talk to the White House, there are going to be 2.5 million people who are going to have a choice to leave full-time employment.
Pace included the Republican talking point in an apparent attempt to balance the White House's statements, but the idea that "there are going to be nearly 2.5 million jobs that are going to be lost" is simply not true. As the Los Angeles Times' Pulitzer Prize-winning business columnist Michael Hiltzik explained (emphasis original):
The CBO projects that the [Affordable Care] act will reduce the supply of labor, not the availability of jobs. There's a big difference. In fact, it suggests that aggregate demand for labor (that is, the number of jobs) will increase, not decrease; but that many workers or would-be workers will be prompted by the ACA to leave the labor force, many of them voluntarily.
As economist Dean Baker points out, this is, in fact, a beneficial effect of the law, and a sign that it will achieve an important goal. It helps "older workers with serious health conditions who are working now because this is the only way to get health insurance. And (one for the family-values crowd) many young mothers who return to work earlier than they would like because they need health insurance. This is a huge plus."
The ACA will reduce the total hours worked by about 1.5% to 2% in 2017 to 2024, the CBO forecasts, "almost entirely because workers will choose to supply less labor -- given the new taxes and other incentives they will face and the financial benefits some will receive." That translates into about 2.5 million full-time equivalents by 2024 -- not the number of workers, because some will reduce their number of hours worked rather than leaving the workforce entirely.
Fox News continued its habit of inventing Benghazi news hooks by selectively quoting from a Senate report on Benghazi that came out more than two weeks ago to bolster its false claims that the Obama administration changed talking points after the attack for political reasons.
On the February 3 edition of Special Report, Fox's chief intelligence correspondent Catherine Herridge aired an investigation that revolved around a single sentence in the January 15 Senate Select Committee on Intelligence review on the Benghazi attack. Introducing the segment by saying the report "sheds new light on the role of Michael Morell, the CIA's former deputy director, in the Benghazi talking points controversy." She continued:
HERRIDGE: The Senate report states that on September 15, one day before Susan Rice's controversial Sunday show appearances -- where she blamed a demonstration gone awry -- Morell and others at the CIA received a critical email that reported the attacks were, quote, "not/not an escalation of protests." It was from the CIA chief of station, who was on the ground in Libya.
Herridge went on to cite several intelligence experts to question why Morell didn't use that email to delete references to demonstrations from the talking points later used by then-UN Ambassador Susan Rice, when Morell made edits to the talking points that same day -- though Herridge admits that it's not known when Morell read the email from the Libya station chief. Later in the segment, Herridge used other news reports and interviews to tie Morell's edits to the talking points to a possible Hillary Clinton presidential run in 2016, speculating that they were politically motivated.
Morell's changes to the talking points aren't news. The Washington Post reported in May 2013 that Morell edited the talking points as part of a standard process of inter-agency coordination and a determination that certain information needed to be excluded to protect ongoing terror investigations.
And Herridge's insinuation that this email from the CIA station chief in Libya should have kept any mention of demonstrations out of the talking points is undermined by the next sentence from the Senate report, which explained that it's not standard practice to base analysis on "e-mails and other informal communications": (emphasis added)
The IC also had information that there were no protests outside the Temporary Mission Facility prior to the attacks, but did not incorporate that information into its widely circulated assessments in a timely manner. Contrary to many press reports at the time, eyewitness statements by U.S. personnel indicate that there were no protests at the start of the attacks. For example, on September 15, 2012,. the CIA's Chief of Station in Tripoli sent to the then-Deputy Director of the ClA and others at the CIA an email that reported the attacks were "not/not an escalation of protests." Yet, the CIA's January 4, 2013, Analytic Line Review downplays the importance of this email, noting, "... as a standard practice, we do not base analysis on e-mails and other informal communications from the field because such accounts often change when formalized as disseminated intelligence reports."
From the February 3 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier:
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Fox News hyped a new GOP health care proposal as a viable alternative to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that it claimed could reduce health care costs, lower premiums, and extend coverage more than the ACA. But Fox omitted other analyses that found the new GOP proposal would allow insurance companies to discriminate against individuals with pre-existing conditions, reduce Medicaid expansion, and charge older Americans more for coverage.
On January 27, Republican Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Tom Coburn (R-OK), and Richard Burr (R-NC) released their legislative proposal, The Patient Choice, Affordability, Responsibility, and Empowerment Act (or CARE), as an alternative to the ACA.
During the January 31 edition of Special Report with Bret Baier, Fox's chief congressional correspondent Mike Emanuel highlighted a friendly analysis of the CARE Act from an organization opened by former Congressional Budget Office director and McCain presidential campaign adviser Douglas Holtz-Eakin. Emanuel said that according to this study, the CARE Act would "reduce health care costs, lower premiums, and provide health care coverage to more Americans than Obamacare":
But other reports on the CARE Act have found that it may negatively affect many Americans with its stated goal of repealing the ACA. On the Washington Post's Wonkblog, Sarah Kilff reported that the GOP plan has "structural similarities to Obamacare," but would end the ACA's guarantee that insurance companies will cover individuals with pre-existing conditions:
The Republican proposal would do this in a more limited way: It would end pre-existing conditions limitations for those who remain continuously insured. That means if you lost your job and health insurance, and immediately purchased a plan on the individual market, your insurance company could not use your medical history to set prices. If your coverage did lapse, however, there would be the possibility of facing underwriting fees when purchasing an individual plan.
Right-wing media figures are baselessly stoking fears about calls to reduce inequality and expand opportunity to low-income Americans, claiming that these efforts are evidence of persecution of the rich and class warfare.
Syndicated columnist and Fox News contributor George Will inaccurately criticized President Obama's 2014 State of the Union address for supposedly using the term "al-Qaida's core leadership" as a subtle change in language from the previous year, showing that his efforts against the terrorist organization have stalled. But a simple fact check shows Obama's statement on Tuesday regarding al Qaeda is almost identical to his 2013 speech.
During the January 29 edition of Special Report with Bret Baier, Will accused Obama of substituting the more general language used to describe his efforts to fight the entire al Qaeda organization in his 2013 State of the Union address for less encompassing language only targeting "al Qaeda's core leadership" in his 2014 speech:
WILL: [L]isten to how the language has changed. One year ago in the State of the Union, the president said "[t]he organization that attacked us on 9/11 is a shadow of its former self." He didn't use the word "al Qaeda." It has a name, why didn't he use it? Because we were on the way to last night, where we now talk about core al Qaeda. "[W]e've put al-Qaida's core leadership on a path to defeat." It turns out, that the devil is in the adjective -- core leadership. And the more they use it, the less informative this gets.
But Obama explicitly mentioned his efforts to defeat the "core" of al Qaeda in both speeches. From President Obama's 2013 address:
From the January 28 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier:
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From the January 28 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier:
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From the January 27 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier:
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Scrambling to mitigate news that conservative filmmaker and Fox News darling Dinesh D'Souza was indicted for felony federal campaign finance violations, the network suggested that Democrat Pierce O'Donnell's 2012 misdemeanor convictions for the same crime is evidence that the Obama administration is targeting political enemies -- but O'Donnell was originally charged with even more felony counts than D'Souza.
D'Souza, known for his conspiratorial film 2016: Obama's America, was indicted this week "by a federal grand jury for arranging excessive campaign contributions to a candidate for the U.S. Senate," according to Reuters. D'Souza allegedly repaid people who, at his direction, contributed $20,000 to New York Republican senate candidate Wendy Long, well beyond the legal contribution limit.
His allies in the conservative media handled news of the indictment by accusing the Department of Justice of seeking to silence people on President Obama's "enemies list" in the custom of "Nazi Germany" and "Stalin."
Fox's evening news show Special Report attempted to further this conspiracy theory by pointing to the case of Pierce O'Donnell, an attorney who pled guilty to making approximately $26,000 in illegal campaign contributions to disgraced former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards' 2004 campaign. The program repeatedly suggested political retribution was at play because O'Donnell "faced only a misdemeanor conviction" for a near identical crime to D'Souza's, who is charged with a felony. Correspondent Doug McKelway and contributor Charles Krauthammer raised these claims in different segments during the program.
But there is a fatal flaw in Fox's argument: O'Donnell was actually indicted for three felonies, more serious charges than D'Souza faces.
From the January 22 edition of Fox News' Special Report:
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Fox News' Special Report made the startling claim that Republicans' alternative health care plans "cover everyone," even though almost none of them have been examined by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) for their effects on Americans' insurance coverage.
On January 17, Fox's chief national correspondent Jim Angle promoted Republican healthcare plans serving as alternatives to the Affordable Care Act, saying "all Republican plans, one way or another, would cover everyone, including those with pre-existing conditions." Angle also specifically hyped the plan of Rep. Tom Price (R-GA):
Contrary to Angle's rosy depiction, the reality of Republicans' alternative health care plans is that they're unlikely to cover more Americans than Obamacare. In November 2009, the CBO analyzed a failed health care reform plan that then-Minority Leader John Boehner offered in place of the House Democrats' plan. The CBO found that, after 10 years, the share of Americans with insurance coverage would be unchanged:
By 2019, CBO and JCT estimate, the number of nonelderly people without health insurance would be reduced by about 3 million relative to current law, leaving about 52 million nonelderly residents uninsured. The share of legal nonelderly residents with insurance coverage in 2019 would be about 83 percent, roughly in line with the current share. CBO and JCT estimate that enacting the amendment's insurance coverage provisions would increase deficits by $8 billion over the 2010-2019 period.
"I don't care about the bloody report!"
With that, Bill O'Reilly delivered the climax to a night of Senate report denialism on Fox News.
This week, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released the results of its investigation into the 2012 attacks in Benghazi. The report dispelled many of Fox News' favorite conspiracy theories surrounding the attacks, including the myth that the Obama administration engaged in a cover-up by suggesting the attacks may have grown out of protests outside U.S. facilities in Benghazi over an anti-Islam video, an idea then-U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice suggested in a series of interviews on the broadcast Sunday shows three days after the attacks.
And yet, Fox hosts Bill O'Reilly and Bret Baier continued to push these myths, even when covering the Senate report that debunked them.
On the January 16 edition of Special Report, guest A.B. Stoddard pointed out that the report found no evidence of a cover-up, and Baier responded, "You said no cover-up, but there's clearly an open question about this story about the protests, and about where that all came from."
Bill O'Reilly went even further, peppering guest James Carville with questions about the origins of Rice's suggestion that the attacks may have originated from a protest over the film. Carville attempted to explain that the Senate report answered O'Reilly's question, but the Fox host repeatedly interrupted him, finally yelling, "I don't care about the bloody report":