Fox News downplayed a recent report on questionable business dealings made by Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush after having ignored the story in the days after it broke.
On June 28, The Washington Post reported on Bush's business dealings in the years before and after he was governor of Florida and said Bush "often benefited from his family connections and repeatedly put himself in situations that raised questions about his judgment and exposed him to reputational risk." As The Post also noted:
Five of his business associates have been convicted of crimes; one remains an international fugitive on fraud charges. In each case, Bush said he had no knowledge of any wrongdoing and said some of the people he met as a businessman in Florida took advantage of his naiveté.
On the June 30 edition of Fox & Friends, correspondent Carl Cameron downplayed The Post's reporting, saying Bush, "like any kind of businessman," has had "some ups and some downs" and "some of the downs have been in the press lately." Cameron claimed Bush's decision to release 33 years of tax returns could be a response to reporting on his business dealings:
CAMERON: 33 years of tax returns, that's a lot.
STEVE DOOCY: I'm sure it's just a coincidence it's coming out today, not raining on anybody's parade, just a coincidence, right, Carl?
CAMERON: Wouldn't dream of it. And it's also worth noting, you know, that his business career, he made a lot of money, but, you know, like any kind of businessman, there were some ups and some downs, and some of the downs have been in the press lately, so this may be answering a little bit of that, but it's also sending a message to Chris Christie ... Look out, Hillary Clinton, when it comes to transparency.
Prior to Cameron's remarks, Fox had ignored The Post's reporting completely in its primetime coverage since the story broke.
Fox News hosts are rallying to defend Donald Trump after NBC severed business ties with the GOP presidential hopeful following his offensive campaign announcement speech in which he referred to Mexican immigrants as criminals and "rapists."
From the June 25 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
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Fox News turned to a fast food CEO notorious for his opposition to paying employees livable wages during a misleading segment alleging that social safety net programs trap low-income Americans in poverty.
On the June 24 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy invited CKE Restaurants (Hardee's, Carl's Jr.) CEO Andy Puzder to argue that low-income workers might be wary of higher paying jobs if the salary increase results in a loss of government benefits. Doocy referenced Puzder's June 22 op-ed in The Hill as evidence of the so-called "Welfare Cliff," where employees turn down promotions that could lead to $80,000 salaries because they "don't want to lose the free stuff from the government" (emphasis added):
PUZDER: The policy guys call it the "Welfare Cliff," because you get to a point where if you make a few more dollars you actually lose thousands of dollars in benefits. And, quite honestly, these benefits are essential for some people. They are how they pay their rent; they are how they feed their kids. So, what happens is, we have people who turn down promotions or, if minimum wage goes up, they want fewer hours. They want less hours because they are afraid they'll go over that cliff.
DOOCY: And, it's got to drive you nuts, because you're always looking for good people to run your stores. And, if they would just take the next step, take the next step up the ladder, next thing you know they could be a manager making $80,000, but they don't want to lose the free stuff from the government.
The term "Welfare Cliff" was popularized by Pennsylvania's Republican-appointed Secretary of Public Welfare in a July 2012 report, which claimed a "single mom" could nearly double her net income by taking full advantage of nine distinct anti-poverty programs, but the concept of a trade-off between welfare and work dates back to a flawed Cato Institute study from 1995. One thing all such studies have in common is the base calculation of benefits available to a hypothetical "single mom" with multiple dependent children. Most American workers aren't single moms, most recipients of government benefits don't enroll in every single available program, and the value of federal benefit programs like welfare is less now than it was in years past -- facts that are never acknowledged in right-wing media discussions of anti-poverty programs.
By Puzder's own admission, the company he runs does not pay anywhere near the amount he and Doocy claim is attainable if workers were willing to work their way off of welfare. According to a March 2014 op-ed by Puzder in The Wall Street Journal, employees at CKE-run restaurants can earn "a management-level salary starting around $36,000 and going as high as $65,000," with an average of "around $45,000" per year.
According to the most-recently available data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average food service employee nationwide makes just $19,110 annually, or roughly $9.19 per hour. According to a 2013 study from the National Employment Law Project (NELP), the overwhelming majority of fast food employees (89.1 percent) make less than $9 per hour and face significant "barriers to upward mobility" in the profession.
From the June 24 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
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Fox News has reduced President Obama's recent comments about the complex role of race in America to the question of whether or not it was appropriate for him to use the word "nigger" during that discussion, with one network contributor claiming this indicated Obama is the "rapper in chief."
Obama discussed the history of racism in America during an interview with the comedian Marc Maron for his WTF podcast, saying:
OBAMA: The legacy of slavery, Jim Crow, discrimination in almost every institution of our lives -- that casts a long shadow, and that's still part of our DNA that's passed on. We're not cured of it.
OBAMA: Racism. We are not cured of --
OBAMA: And it's not just a matter of it not being polite to say nigger in public. That's not the measure of whether racism still exists or not. It's not just a matter of overt discrimination. Societies don't overnight completely erase everything that happened two to 300 years prior.
Much of the media have highlighted Obama's use of "the n-word" in their reports on his comments. But Fox in particular has focused its discussion of the interview almost solely on the propriety of his use of the word.
During a segment on America's Newsroom, anchor Bill Hemmer asked if Obama's use of the word was "too blunt" and asked if it was "necessary." Contributor Deneen Borelli said Obama had "lowered the stature" of his office with his "insane, crazy comment" and termed him the "rapper in chief."
HEMMER: Touchy, touchy, touchy deal here. Was it necessary?
BORELLI: We're talking about the president of the United States using the "n-word," Bill. He has really dragged in the gutter speak of rap music. So now he is the first president of rap, of street? Come on, he has lowered the stature of the high office of the president of the United States and the question is why did he do this? ...
You see all of the people coming together in the streets of Charleston, South Carolina, black, white and otherwise, coming together, praying, supporting each other. And here you have the president make this insane, crazy comment of using the "n-word" to really distract. This is all a distraction, grand distraction to take away from the people uniting and then the president in chief, the rapper in chief, now further dividing our country. I find it outrageous.
Hemmer later declared, "As a white American, my entire life I know that that is an electric word and you stay away from it," adding, "this is something that we thought was entirely off limits and now you have the president using it."
Fox & Friends also fixated on Obama's language, with co-host Steve Doocy saying that "today people are going to be talking, Bret, about whether or not it is appropriate for the president to use the 'n-word' and whether or not it is beneath the dignity of his office."
Fox & Friends co-hosts Elisabeth Hasselbeck and Steve Doocy baselessly speculated that 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton would remain silent on South Carolina's Confederate flag out of deference to her husband's actions as governor of Arkansas. However, Clinton said in a 2007 interview with the Associated Press that South Carolina should remove the flag from its statehouse grounds.
On the June 22 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, Hasselbeck pointed out that while most of the GOP presidential field has weighed in on South Carolina's decision to continue flying the Confederate flag on its state house grounds in the wake of last week's mass shooting in a black, historically activist church in Charleston, Hillary Clinton has not yet made a statement. She speculated that Clinton's silence may be "because Bill Clinton, her husband, signed a law honoring the Confederacy in Arkansas and about the flag's design in 1987," while he was governor of Arkansas, going on to say, "She's just in a tough spot, to have to defend her husband's position back then, right now in light of what happened in South Carolina."
However, as the Clinton campaign pointed out to BuzzFeed, Clinton unequivocally told the Associated Press in 2007 that she would "like to see it removed from the Statehouse grounds," saying,"I think about how many South Carolinians have served in our military and who are serving today under our flag and I believe that we should have one flag that we all pay honor to, as I know that most people in South Carolina do every single day." Clinton was running for the Democratic presidential nomination at the time.
The Fox hosts also failed to note that while several of the 2016 GOP presidential candidates have made statements on the Confederate flag, none openly condemned it -- Scott Walker said the decision to fly the flag is a "state issue" and Marco Rubio said that "outsiders" should not tell South Carolina what to do.
Clinton has spoken about racism in the wake of the Charleston shooting, which claimed nine lives. Speaking on Saturday, she said, "Race remains a deep fault line in America ... Millions of people of color still experience racism in their everyday lives."
Meanwhile, most of Fox News' coverage of the shooting failed to take the shooter's allegedly racist motivations seriously. On June 18, Doocy said it was extraordinary that the shooting would be called a hate crime. And on his radio program, Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade wondered, "Is it about Christians? Is it about white-black? Is it about 'I hate South Carolina'?"
Like frantic shoppers running down a last-minute list, Fox News talkers last week desperately tried to cobble together a inventory of reasons why racist gunman Dylann Roof may not have been primarily motivated by racism.
As the conservative media anxiously and collectively searched for political cover, Fox News hosts and guests offered up an array of illogical explanations: Maybe the Charleston, S.C. church killing was an attack on Christians. Maybe it was an attack on South Carolina. Maybe political correctness was to blame. Or "diversity." Maybe pastors should be armed. (In any case, Fox Newsers agreed, President Obama was being very, very "divisive" regarding the matter.)
On and on, the alternative explanations were offered up in the face of overwhelming evidence that Roof had set out to kill as many black people as possible because he wanted to start a "race war." Period. And the way Roof chose to do that was to open fire, and then reload, in the basement of the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, killing the pastor and eight parishioners.
Like so many Americans, Fox News has been reeling in the wake of the massacre, except reeling in a different way. While Americans recoiled from the raw hate behind the gun rampage, Fox News wrestled with bouts of pathological denial.
Indeed, for Fox News and much of the conservative media, the horrific killings in South Carolina represented a political challenge because the act of mass murder revolved around two topics Fox News has long insisted don't really afflict America, or don't require pressing action: Racism and gun violence. That denial has made it nearly impossible for Fox to address the shooting in any coherent way.
Fox News' immediate response to the deadly shooting at a black Charleston church was to repeatedly push the prospect that the massacre was a religious hate crime, rather than a racially motivated one.
At around 9 p.m. on June 17, a white man named Dylann Roof entered a prayer service at the historic black Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C., and murdered nine black people with a gun. Roof is said to have left one witness alive, to "tell the story of what had happened," and reports soon surfaced that Roof told his victims, ranging in age from 26 to 87, that "you rape our women and are taking over our country, and you have to go." Charleston police chief Gregg Mullen was quick to describe the shooting as a hate crime, calling the crime "senseless" in a news conference that same evening.
The church was founded in 1816, and after a founding member of the church, Denmark Vesey, organized a slave revolt in 1822, the church was burned in retaliation. One of the shooting victims, state senator and pastor Clementa Pinckney, previously said, "This site, this area, has been tied to the history and life of African Americans since about the early 1800s."
On the morning after the shooting, Fox News' coverage scrambled to suggest the shooting may not have been racially-motivated, but was perhaps a religious hate crime.
Fox & Friends host Steve Doocy stated that it was extraordinary the massacre was being labeled a hate crime, positing, "It was a church, so maybe that's what they're talking about" and citing "hostility towards Christians." Guest Bishop E. W. Jackson agreed that "most people jump to conclusions about race," and that "we don't know why he went into a church, but he didn't choose a bar" or "basketballc ourt." Later, frequent Fox guest and former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani theorized that "we don't know the motivation of the person who did this," saying "maybe he hates Christian churches." And later that day on Fox News Radio, Brian Kilmeade speculated that maybe the shooter "hates Christian churches" or possibly just the state of South Carolina.
After Dylann Roof was arrested, he reportedly confessed to investigators that his motivation for the shooting was to "start a race war." Additional evidence emerged of his racist, white supremacist beliefs -- A Facebook photo showed Roof wearing a jacket with the flags of apartheid-era South Africa and the former nation of Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, which have been "adopted as emblems by modern-day white supremacists." And friend of Roof's said that he "was saying all this stuff about how the races should be segregated, that whites should be with whites," and that he wanted to "start a civil war."
Fox has a long history of concocting alternative explanations for events others see as examples of racism and its effects. When Eric Garner died at the hands of police in Staten Island last year, Fox hosts Sean Hannity and Greg Gutfeld blamed New York's high cigarette taxes for leading Eric Garner to sell black market cigarettes, the crime for which police were arresting him when he was killed; Hannity described it as the "root cause" of his death. Host Bill O'Reilly has attributed the disproportionate imprisonment of black people to "the culture" in "ghetto neighborhoods," while contributor Geraldo Rivera once said that Trayvon Martin's hoodie was "as much to blame" for his death as George Zimmerman was. And Fox host Eric Bolling has said he simply doesn't "think there's racism" in America, because we have a black president.
From the June 19 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
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Fox & Friends used a mass shooting at a South Carolina church to baselessly promote the carrying of guns as a solution to prevent such attacks -- even though research indicates that civilians are more likely to harm themselves or someone else than stop a criminal when they have a gun, and there is "no evidence" that arming civilians stops mass shootings.
On June 17, a gunman killed nine after opening fire at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston. Commenting on the massacre, "[t]he chief of police of Charleston, Greg Mullen, called the shooting a hate crime," according to The New York Times.
Discussing the tragedy on the June 18 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, the co-hosts repeatedly suggested that the massacre may have been prevented had the congregation been armed. After guest E. W. Jackson urged "pastors and men in these churches to prepare to defend themselves," host Brian Kilmeade asked if giving pastors a gun could help with "security." Later in the show, Steve Doocy similarly suggested, "If somebody was there, they would have had the opportunity to pull out their weapon and take [the shooter] out ... If somebody in there had a gun." Elisabeth Hasselbeck agreed, calling it a "great point."
But an analysis of 62 mass public shootings over a 30 year period by Mother Jones found no cases where an ordinary civilian with a gun stopped an attack, and instances where someone did try to intervene with a gun resulted in the death or injury of that person:
In the wake of the massacres this year at a Colorado movie theater, a Sikh temple in Wisconsin, and Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, we set out to track mass shootings in the United States over the last 30 years.We identified and analyzed 62 of them, and one striking pattern in the data is this: In not a single case was the killing stopped by a civilian using a gun. And in other recent (but less lethal) rampages in which armed civilians attempted to intervene, those civilians not only failed to stop the shooter but also were gravely wounded or killed.
While individuals with concealed carry permits have not stopped mass shootings, the Violence Policy Center (VPC) has identified 29 incidents since 2007 where someone with a permit shot and killed three or more people during a single shooting incident.
Newly released VPC research on the use of guns for self-defense also indicates why arming the congregation is unlikely to stop an attack. The group found that American gun owners are more likely to injure themselves or someone else with a gun than to use it to stop a criminal. The report, which relied on data from the FBI and the Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Statistics, found just 258 justifiable homicides involving civilian firearms in 2012 compared to 8,342 murders by gun -- a ratio of 32 criminal homicides for each justifiable homicide. The study noted that suicides by gun outpace justifiable homicides by an even greater extent.
Examining government data from 2007 to 2011, VPC found that just .8 percent of violent crimes were met with resistance from a gun. These findings are in line with a large body of research that indicates guns are used far more often to commit crimes than defend against crimes.
Conservative media have frequently promoted the myth that guns are primarily used for self-defense, despite guns rarely being used for that purpose, and have a long history of exploiting tragedies to push their own pro-gun agendas. Right-wing media frequently call for more guns in the immediate aftermath of high profile shooting events, including a May thwarted terrorist attack in Garland, Texas, the January massacre at the offices of French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, the 2014 mass shooting at Fort Hood, the 2014 shooting at a high school near Portland, Oregon, and the 2013 attack at Washington D.C.'s Navy Yard.
From the June 18 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
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From the June 18 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
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Fox News host Steve Doocy questioned why a gunman who attacked Dallas police headquarters was able to legally purchase an armored van but ignored questions about how the gunman acquired an arsenal of firearms and bombs.
Authorities say James Boulware attacked police headquarters in Dallas in the early hours of June 13. The New York Times reported that "officers narrowly escaped injury and death as they dodged bullets" when Boulware opened fire on the headquarters building and vehicles in the parking lot. Boulware also placed pipe bombs outside of the building, at least one of which exploded. Boulware fled in an armored van he had recently purchased online, and following a chase and a standoff, he was killed by a police sniper.
But on the June 15 broadcast of Fox & Friends, the focus was on Boulware's van -- a modified 1995 Ford he bought in Georgia that was advertised online as a "full armored zombie busting vehicle." Doocy asked, "Just how did that Dallas police shooter over the weekend get his hands on an armored car that gave him enough protection when he opened fire on cops?" (Reports say Boulware was actually "on foot" when he initially attacked the headquarters.)
Doocy also said, "You would think that selling an armored car just to anybody is not safe," and, "The question is whether or not this stuff, once it's military surplus, should wind up in the hands of private individuals, because we saw over the weekend that can turn out bad."
No mention was made of questions surrounding how Boulware acquired the firearms he used in the attack or whether he was legally allowed to possess them. Boulware, who reportedly acted out of anger over a court decision in a custody dispute, was subject to "numerous temporary restraining orders granted to his son's mother," according to court documents viewed by Crooks & Liars.
Fox News host Steve Doocy claimed that the College Board has "all but dismissed" seminal works in American history for use in advanced placement courses -- including the Mayflower Compact, the Gettysburg Address, and Martin Luther King Jr.'s 'I Have A Dream' speech -- to raise fears that "U.S. history may be history" in American schools.
Fox News has spent the week hyping an open letter published by the National Association of Scholars (NAS), a conservative group critical of the Advanced Placement (AP) U.S. History Course framework that the College Board released last year. Fifty-five scholars signed the letter, which claims the revised guidelines focus on "the conflict between social groups" rather than "sources of national unity and cohesion." An NAS press release about the letter says the new framework "ignores American exceptionalism."
In a "Trouble with Schools" segment on June 12, Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy claimed that "seminal works in the canon of American history have been all but dismissed by the new guidelines for the AP History issued by the College Board." Guest Whitney Neal, of the Bill of Rights Institute, said the College Board changed the guidelines "because they have an agenda to push."
While Doocy's main concern was his belief that the College Board has eliminated "seminal works," including the Gettysburg Address, the Mayflower Compact, and Rev. King's 'I Have A Dream' speech, Neal claimed that the biggest change has to do with how the board addressed the founding of America, arguing they ignored the role of religion. However, when an incredulous-sounding Doocy asked, "So they've left the religion part out?" Neal conceded, "It's there ... almost like as an afterthought, right? It's kind of like down the page a couple."
There are several problems with Doocy and Neal's claims. One of the biggest is that they are attacking a set of guidelines, not a strict formula for how to teach AP U.S. History, which has always been up to individual schools and teachers. The College Board has responded to similar criticism before by pointing out that "a framework doesn't dictate curriculum, it only guides it. And it is absurd to conclude that teachers wouldn't teach such important issues as part of American history."
Second, even though College Board doesn't decide which primary sources or "seminal works" are used in each classroom, the primary sources that they recommend haven't changed since 2006, and still include all of the works Doocy claimed have been "dismissed."
Finally, Neal's claim that the guidelines only mention religion and religious freedom as an afterthought ignores one of the new guideline's learning objectives. "Peopling" directly addresses the role of religion in U.S. history, and the guidelines for "Period 3: 1754-1800" make several references to religion's role in America's founding.