Special Report with Bret Baier

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  • Fox Segment Fearmongers Over Affordable Housing In Affluent Neighborhoods

    Blog ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ

    Fox News' Special Report criticized a plan to put affordable housing in affluent neighborhoods arguing that "a lot of people" in Baltimore "are not too happy about the plan," while ignoring the benefits of the program.

    On the April 4 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier, correspondent Leland Vittert detailed a plan in Baltimore County, Maryland that would "spend $30 million over the next ten years to build 1,000 homes in more affluent neighborhoods." Vittert started the segment discussing the crime rates that have "skyrocketed" in "the rougher parts of Baltimore," adding that it is "no surprise, the folks who live" in low-income parts of Baltimore "want out of the poverty." Vittert interviewed Maryland state delegate Pat McDonough who claimed the idea is "social engineering on steroids":

    The plan stemmed from a case where the City of Baltimore had been accused of "perpetuating segregated clusters of minority renters with government subsidies by failing to expand affordable options in prosperous neighborhoods." While the segment focused on those who were "not too happy" about the plan, it ignored the benefits to the community. As Doug Donovan reported for The Baltimore Sun:

    The agreement resolves a federal housing complaint filed in 2011 by the local NAACP branch, Baltimore Neighborhoods Inc. and three county residents. They accused the county of perpetuating segregated clusters of minority renters with government subsidies by failing to expand affordable options in prosperous neighborhoods.

    The complainants alleged that the county had maintained policies that kept low-income and minority residents out of the best neighborhoods by spending most of its federal housing money on housing for the elderly occupied primarily by whites, demolishing and failing to replace 4,100 subsidized housing units for families since 1995, and locating Section 8 voucher holders in poor and segregated neighborhoods.

    [...]

    Housing organizations are hopeful that the work will help to provide more families access to better schools for their children. Research shows that can improve their chances of escaping poverty.

    "What we have today is justice in housing in Baltimore County," said Robert Strupp, executive director of Baltimore Neighborhoods Inc.

    "The lives of residents in the housing development improved markedly after they moved to the affluent suburb," according to The Atlantic which found that "location matters" when determining whether a child will escape poverty:

    What's more, the lives of residents in the housing development improved markedly after they moved to the affluent suburb. An increasing amount of data seems to show that location matters just as much as income in determining a child's likelihood of escaping poverty. As I've written about before, children from low-income families who move to more affluent suburbs are more likely to graduate from high school, attend four-year colleges, and have jobs than their peers who stayed in the city. And cities that have made an effort to keep schools desegregated have enjoyed less race-based strife than peer cities.

    Fox News has also criticized the broader federal plan from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that aims to increase diversity in American neighborhoods, with some anchors saying the president's plan is strong-arming communities that are "too white [and] too privileged."

  • Fox Spins Trump Into The Victim Of His Campaign Manager's Battery Charge

    ››› ››› DAYANITA RAMESH

    After police arrested Corey Lewandowski, Donald Trump's campaign manager, and charged him with simple battery of former Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields, Fox News attempted to paint Trump as the real victim in the incident. Fox hosts and guests dismissed the matter as a "tragedy for the Trump campaign," claimed the campaign had entered into the "theater ... of the absurd," and noted that Trump's "got to be ticked off" at having to discuss the battery charge instead of substantive issues.

  • Right-Wing Media Have Been Following Their Deceptive SCOTUS Nominee Playbook To A T

    Blog ››› ››› PAM VOGEL

    supreme-court

    On March 16, President Obama announced his nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court. Before the nomination, Media Matters explained how right-wing media would respond: by following their deceptive conservative playbook against the nominee, regardless of who it was. And that's exactly what they did. Right-wing media resurrected the same tired tactics they've used before to oppose Obama's judicial nominees -- distorting the nominee's record to push alarmist rhetoric, purposefully taking past statements out of context, and lobbing attacks based on the nominee's race, gender, or religion. In the last week, we've already seen many of these plays put into action, with conservative media predictably propping up dishonest talking points and false claims dedicated to obstruction.

    Judicial Crisis Network Has Led The Pack In Pushing Debunked Misinformation On Garland's Record Into Media Coverage

    The discredited conservative group Judicial Crisis Network (JCN) -- known as the Judicial Confirmation Network during the Bush administration, but now committed to opposing Obama judicial nominations -- has led the way in fearmongering around "one more liberal justice," attempting to re-cast Garland's record as that of an anti-gun, job-killing judicial extremist.

    JCN began its misinformation campaign well before Garland's March 16 nomination, pushing myths about the records of several potential nominees at the National Review's Bench Memos legal blog, in press statements and attack ads, and in media appearances by JCN chief counsel Carrie Severino. On March 11, Severino authored a post on the Bench Memos blog attempting to smear Garland as "very liberal on gun rights" by grossly distorting actions he took on two cases pulled from his nearly two decades of judicial service, one of which did not even concern the Second Amendment. Severino cited Garland's 2007 vote to rehear a case on D.C.'s handgun ban and his 2000 ruling in a case related to the national background check system for gun purchases to draw this baseless conclusion. But she failed to note crucial context -- voting to rehear a case in what's called an en banc review does not indicate how a judge might theoretically rule, and in both cases, Garland either acted in agreement with colleagues or other courts across the ideological spectrum. Veteran Supreme Court reporters and numerous legal experts quickly and summarily debunked these misleading claims, but other right-wing outlets have further distorted them, and JCN has pushed the myths in subsequent attack ads and media appearances.

    Following Garland's formal nomination, JCN released a series of "topline points" outlining its opposition, further misrepresenting Garland's guns record to falsely suggest he had "voted to uphold" D.C.'s handgun ban and "demonstrated a remarkable level of hostility to the Second Amendment," as well as contending Garland was "the sole dissenter in a 2002 case striking down an illegal, job-killing EPA regulation." Like its earlier attacks on Garland's supposedly "very liberal" guns record, JCN's newer claims about Garland's ruling in the 2002 EPA case also grossly distorted the facts.

    Some mainstream outlets have uncritically echoed JCN's debunked "topline points" and attack ads on Garland's record, and these reports -- in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal, and on National Public Radio -- lend an air of undeserved legitimacy to the group's misinformation campaign against Garland.

    National Review Has Served As The Right-Wing-Media Source For Misleading Talking Points

    National Review's Supreme Court coverage to date has continued its tradition of injecting context-free talking points into mainstream reporting on the nominee. Its legal blog, Bench Memos, has served as a testing ground for new smears against Garland, hosting several misinformation-filled posts from JCN's Severino that eventually made their way into mainstream reporting and broadcast coverage. In giving space for JCN and other right-wing legal pundits like contributor Ed Whelan to distort Garland's record, Bench Memos quickly made it clear that a lack of evidence is no reason to avoid making sweeping claims about the nominee.

    Before Garland was nominated, National Review featured posts from both Severino and Whelan that attempted to smear several potential nominees. On March 7, Whelan questioned the intelligence of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson absent any evidence to suggest the accomplished federal judge was anything but qualified. That same day, Severino attempted to smear Judge Jane Kelly for fulfilling her constitutional duty of providing legal representation for an unsavory client while working as a public defender. In subsequent posts, Severino attacked Judges Sri Srinivasan and Paul Watford in a series aimed to undermine their reputations as "moderates" by misrepresenting a handful of their past decisions as "extremist."

    Attacks on Garland, too, began before the March 16 nomination announcement; Severino's March 11 post on Bench Memos first floated what have since become widespread and false conservative talking points on Garland's record on guns. In the post, Severino claimed that Garland's vote to rehear a 2007 case related to the D.C. handgun ban and his joining of a ruling in a 2000 case related to the FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Check System for gun purchases together indicated "a very liberal approach" to the Second Amendment and a desire to overturn the 2008 Heller Supreme Court decision on the Second Amendment. These attacks, which legal experts quickly and repeatedly debunked, continue to pervade media coverage of opposition to Garland's nomination.

    Fox Figures Have Parroted Debunked Claims, Reporting Misinformation As Fact To A Wider Audience

    Fox News figures have predictably latched onto conservative talking points to oppose Garland, broadcasting already debunked claims about Garland's record.

    On March 16, Bret Baier, host of Fox's Special Report With Bret Baier, claimed in an interview with White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest that Garland "opposed Justice Scalia's take on the Second Amendment in the Heller case," misrepresenting both Garland's 2007 vote to rehear the D.C. handgun case and the case's relationship to a Supreme Court decision issued the following year. On Fox's The O'Reilly Factor, host Bill O'Reilly further distorted JCN's talking point, incorrectly stating that Garland had "voted to keep the guns away" from private citizens in D.C., another claim about the Supreme Court nominee that PolitiFact labeled false.

    The NRA Has Launched An Opposition Campaign Based On These Recycled Talking Points

    As Media Matters warned, the National Rifle Association (NRA) quickly began pushing these right-wing media claims to justify its involvement in obstruction efforts and to fearmonger about Garland.

    Immediately following Garland's nomination on March 16, the NRA declared him "bad on guns." In a series of tweets reacting to the nomination, the NRA linked to the debunked March 11 Severino post on Bench Memos to claim that Garland would "vote to reverse" the Heller decision, and a Washington Times article pushing the same discredited claims with quotes from Severino, a spokesperson from the opposition research group America Rising Squared, and the extremist group Gun Owners of America.

    Later that day, the NRA formally announced its opposition to Garland's nomination. The move predictably mirrored the NRA's efforts to distort Sonia Sotomayor's record and to launch an unprecedented and largely ineffective ploy to threaten senators' records over their votes to confirm Sotomayor to the Supreme Court in 2009. Days later, the executive director of the NRA's Institute for Legislative Action explained the group's opposition in an op-ed in The Washington Post, regurgitating JCN's dishonest claims about Garland's 2007 en banc vote in the Parker case to fearmonger about the moderate judge.

    The NRA's opposition to Garland helped elevate JCN's long-debunked talking points on Garland all the way to Senate Republicans leading the obstruction efforts. In a March 20 appearance on Fox News Sunday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) explicitly cited the NRA's opposition to Garland as a sticking point for ongoing Senate obstruction, explaining that he "can't imagine that a Republican majority in the United States Senate would want to confirm, in a lame duck session, a nominee opposed by the National Rifle Association."

  • Media Echo Inaccurate GOP Talking Points To Blame Obama And Biden For Republican SCOTUS Obstructionism

    ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ

    Media inaccurately equated President Obama's 2006 Senate filibuster vote of then-Judge Samuel Alito and Vice President Biden's 1992 comments on the Senate floor about a Supreme Court nomination in an election year to Senate Republicans' unprecedented attempts to block the president's nomination of Chief Judge Merrick Garland.

  • Fox Host Bret Baier Pushes Judicial Crisis Network Falsehoods To Criticize Supreme Court Nominee

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Fox News' Bret Baier pushed falsehoods about Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland's record on the Second Amendment, claiming that "he opposed Justice Scalia's take on the Second Amendment."

    During the March 16 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier, host Bret Baier falsely claimed that Garland "opposed Justice Scalia's take on the Second Amendment in the Heller case" when asking White House press secretary Josh Earnest about Garland's nomination.

    Baier's claim is erroneous and impossible. Justice Scalia delivered the majority opinion in Heller in June 2008, striking down Washington D.C.'s ban on handgun ownership as unconstitutional. Scalia's participation in the case came only after it passed through the D.C. Circuit, where Garland is chief judge.

    When the case, then known as Parker v. District of Columbia, passed through the D.C. Circuit in 2007, Garland did not participate in the courts 2-1 decision. After that decision, the D.C. Circuit voted 6-4 to not rehear the case before the full court in an en banc hearing. Garland was one of four judges to vote to rehear the case. 

    Voting to rehear a case does not mean that a judge is committing to deciding it one way or the other, nor is it conclusive of how Garland felt about Scalia's subsequent opinion in Heller.

    In his report, Baier also failed to mention that Garland was joined in his vote to rehear the case en banc by the very conservative Judge A. Raymond Randolph.

    Randolph was appointed by President George H.W. Bush and has been described as "one of the most outspoken and agenda-driven conservatives on the entire federal bench."

    Baier's characterization of Garland's record on the Parker case directly echoes falsehoods pushed about Garland by Judicial Crisis Network, a discredited right-wing group that plans to spend millions of dollars opposing Obama's nominee.

    From the March 16 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier:

    BRET BAIER (HOST): Well let's talk about Judge Garland here. He obviously has received a lot of praise from Republicans in the past and Democrats as well. But there are some issues that raise eyebrows for Republicans. One is on the Second Amendment. He opposed Justice Scalia's take on the Second Amendment in the Heller case. How would you respond to conservative concerns that Garland would be the court's -- change the court's direction in limiting Second Amendment rights?

    JOSH EARNEST: Yeah. Well listen, I think first of all this is a good reason for the Senate Judiciary Committee to actually move forward with hearings so we can actually hear directly from the nominee himself how he would approach these questions before the Supreme Court. There's a 19-year track record for us to examine. That's how long that Chief Judge Garland has been on the D.C. Circuit Court, often referred to as "the second highest court in the land." He is somebody who is eminently qualified, and there's an opportunity for us to take a close look at his track record. We would welcome people doing that.

    BAIER: But I'm just asking you, I mean it's kind of bold to put forward somebody who has in the past, according to his record, been for restrictions on guns to fill the seat of Justice Antonin Scalia, who obviously was the biggest gun rights advocate on the court.

    EARNEST: Well I'm not going to speak for Chief Judge Garland in terms of describing his record. I'm merely suggesting that Senate Republicans, if they had this concern, have ample opportunity to question him about that. That would be entirely appropriate for them to do.

  • Myths And Facts On The Nomination Of Judge Merrick Garland To The Supreme Court

    ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT, TIMOTHY JOHNSON & PAM VOGEL

    Since the lead-up to President Obama's March 16 nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court, the judge has faced misleading and false attacks, as well as a concerted push for continued obstruction of any Supreme Court nominee chosen by Obama. Here are the facts about the nominee, previous lines of right-wing attack, and information on the nomination and confirmation processes going forward.

  • Fox's Bret Baier Grossly Distorts "Exxon Knew" Climate Change Scandal

    Blog ››› ››› ANDREW SEIFTER

    Bret Baier climate

    Fox News' Bret Baier badly misrepresented the "Exxon Knew" scandal, falsely claiming that Exxon and other oil companies could be punished by the federal government simply because they "do not believe man is responsible for global warming." In fact, the reason Exxon could face a federal Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation is because of evidence that the company intentionally "misled the public regarding the role of fossil fuels in climate change," as Fox News reporter James Rosen explained later in the same segment.

    On the March 10 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier, Baier introduced Rosen's report by alleging that the government could target oil companies because of their "politically incorrect thinking" on climate change:

    BAIER: Some of the millions of people around the world who do not believe man is responsible for global warming could soon be facing more than just mockery from the left. President Obama's top lawyer admits the government is considering much more forceful action. Chief Washington correspondent James Rosen tonight, on the growing campaign against politically incorrect thinking.

    But a potential DOJ investigation of Exxon and other oil companies would occur not because of what Exxon "believe[s]" or because Exxon's position is "politically incorrect"; the federal investigation, like ongoing or possible investigations by attorneys general in New York, California, and Maryland, would focus on whether oil companies violated the law by purposely withholding truthful information about climate change from shareholders and deceiving the public at large. Last year, InsideClimate News and the Los Angeles Times each reported on a series of documents showing that Exxon deceived the public for decades about the science of climate change, and InsideClimate News detailed further evidence that other oil companies -- including Shell and Texaco -- also knew as far back as the 1970s about the dangers fossil fuel pollution poses for the climate.

    Climate scientists and members of Congress have called for the DOJ to investigate Exxon and Shell under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), which would apply only to those that purposely misled the public about climate change. The DOJ previously filed a civil RICO lawsuit against big tobacco companies, and a federal judge ruled that the tobacco companies had violated RICO by lying about the health risks associated with smoking.

    Later in the Special Report segment, Rosen directly contradicted Baier's claim that Exxon could be punished over an honest disagreement about whether humans are responsible for climate change, pointing out that the investigation would be about whether Exxon "misled the public." Rosen explained: "It was Democratic Congressman Ted Lieu of California who first asked the Justice Department to investigate, specifically whether ExxonMobil has misled the public regarding the role of fossil fuels in climate change."

    Baier's false description of the "Exxon Knew" scandal recalls equally incorrect comments about the issue by other conservative media figures, who have alleged that those seeking investigations of Exxon's climate deception are trying to "shut down free speech."

    From the March 10 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier:

  • Fox News' Abortion Questions During Democratic Town Hall Ignored Legal Rights For Women

    Blog ››› ››› KATE SARNA

    During the March 7 Democratic Town Hall on Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier, host Bret Baier framed questions on reproductive rights around whether presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton supported restrictions on reproductive choice while ignoring the recent legal restrictions on facilities that provide abortion services.

    In Baier's first round of questions to Sen. Sanders (D-VT), Baier asked the candidate if he could name a "single circumstance at any point in a pregnancy at which point [Sanders] would be okay with abortion being illegal," before Baier distinguished Sanders from "some Democrats" who advocate for exceptions "after five months, with the exception of the life of the mother or the health of the baby."

    Baier's question to Clinton on reproductive choice was equally problematic, asking her if "a child should have any legal rights or protections before it's born":

    Baier's questioning on "medically unnecessary" abortion restrictions come as reproductive rights have come under attack in many states by the Republican lead Congress.  Baier's framing of the issue is even more problematic given the lack of time dedicated to the subject in the Democratic presidential primary thus far. As NARAL Pro-Choice America points out, through 7 Democratic primary debates not a single question about abortion had been asked.