Fox News continued its crusade against the Reagan-era affordable telephone service program for low-income Americans, which the network derisively refers to as "Obamaphones," with a misleading segment suggesting that the program has "runaway costs" and traps low-income Americans in poverty.
On May 28, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman Tom Wheeler published a proposal to amend and modernize the Lifeline program, which currently provides landline and cellular phone subsidies to qualifying low-income Americans. Wheeler's proposal would expand the user-funded program to include broadband internet services, which he called "essential communications services in the 21st Century."
On the May 29 edition of Fox & Friends, co-host Tucker Carlson and Fox Business host Charles Payne attacked the broadband proposal and claimed that the Lifeline telephone service system was "radically expanded" during the Obama administration leading to so-called "runaway costs" and fraud.
Payne, who tweeted prior to his appearance that the Lifeline program was tantamount to "further enslavement of the 'poor'," complained on-air that the subsidy was "yet another program that's going to make it really hard for people to get off the sofa" through "the transfer of wealth from the middle class to people of a little bit lower class." Finally, Payne insisted that the expansion of broadband access to low-income Americans delivers the message to "the people who are on the lower levels of the economic rung, we are actually saying to them 'you can't make it but we'll feather the nest a little bit more'":
PAYNE: I think the moral aspect of this is when we're trying to get people into society, you know, out of wherever they live and into the sort of economic spirit, the economic ladder if you will, it's tough. You take a pay cut.
PAYNE: You have all of these benefits and if you add them all up. All of them are at 150 percent above poverty, 130 percent above poverty. Obamacare subsidies, 400 percent above poverty! That keeps a lot of people insulated. So here's the thing. Are you really helping someone by making it more difficult for them to go into the workforce? Are you incentivizing them or disincentivizing them? It's pretty clear what's happening here.
Fox & Friends cried reverse racism when St. Louis University relocated what students and faculty considered a racially and culturally insensitive statue of Native Americans kneeling in front of a white missionary.
Following student and faculty complaints, St. Louis University relocated a statue depicting Native Americans being converted by Belgian missionary Fr. Pierre DeSmet, S.J. According to St. Louis Magazine, university officials pointed to concerns of cultural insensitivity and "white supremacy" in explaining the decision to move the statue inside the university's art museum:
Clayton Berry, SLU's assistant vice president for communications, tells SLM that the statue was moved to the university's art museum after staff voiced concerns.
"In more recent years, there have been some faculty and staff who have raised questions about whether the sculpture is culturally sensitive," Berry says. "Hearing that feedback, the decision was made to place the piece within the historical context of a collection that's on permanent display in our SLU Museum of Art."
University staff weren't alone in finding the statue of two Indian men submitting to a white man troubling. Two years before its removal, the student newspaper called it "the most controversial and misunderstood of all the artwork on the Saint Louis University campus." During Occupy SLU, the six-day student protest against racial inequality sparked by the Ferguson protests, Twitter user @EmmaculateJones shared photos of the statue, calling it a visual representation of "white supremacy on SLU campus."
However, Fox contributor Tucker Carlson called the relocation an "act of racism" on the May 29 edition of Fox & Friends, insisting to co-hosts that the statue's detractors were likely "wholly ignorant" of DeSmet's good works:
KILMEADE: It's a statue of Father Pierre Jean DeSmet ... And right there he is blessing American Indians back in his day. You know why? He was a Belgian Catholic priest who was able to convert countless members of American [[-]] Indians back in that day, and the American Indian community embraced him and his legacy. And among his good friends was actually Sitting Bull.
CARLSON: Despite those facts, of which I think the student body is likely wholly ignorant, the statue has beenremoved and shuttled off to a museum where it will be shown with the appropriate cultural context. Why? Because he was a white supremacist? No. Because he was white. His skin color is itself considered so offensive by the school that this statue can no longer be on display.
KILMEADE: Did anyone even Google this?
HASSELBECK: I mean, just do your homework! He was a friend to that community, reached out, and because of him a major treaty was signed. And after he died, only then did things get even more violent. He was the peacekeeper between the two groups.
From the May 27 edition of Fox News' Special Report:
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During a bizarre appearance on The Alex Jones Show, Fox News host Tucker Carlson suggested the Obama administration is engaging in "Nazi stuff" by using ethnic politics, and wants to confiscate all the country's firearms and put people "in jail for even having them."
Jones, America's leading conspiracy theorist, believes the government perpetrated mass catastrophes like the September 11 attacks, the Oklahoma City bombing, the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster, the Boston Marathon bombing, and several mass shootings. Jones has recently been pushing the conspiracy theory that a military training exercise, Jade Helm, is an attempt to create martial law in the United States (it isn't). Jones is an ally of Republican presidential candidate Rand Paul and helped launch his political career.
Fox News executive vice president Bill Shine has dismissed Jones, saying he "wishes he had a platform on Fox News ... That's not going to happen, so he should stick with trying to locate the black helicopters." Some of Carlson's colleagues have dismissed Jones as a "nut job radio guy" who owns a "radical far-right Web site."
Carlson, who is also the founder and editor in chief of The Daily Caller, claimed during the appearance that progressives use ethnic politics and identity politics to divert attention from their "policy failures." He said the strategy is "really dangerous," comparing it to countries where there is a violent ethnic divide. He said of the Obama administration: "They categorize people by race in a way that, you know, you can't even imagine -- 30 years ago you would have said, 'Wait a second, that's like Nazi stuff.'"
From the May 12 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom:
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From the April 17 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom:
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From the April 9 edition of CSPAN's Washington Journal:
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After spending over a week denying that Indiana's "religious freedom" law could be used for anti-gay discrimination, Fox News is now contradicting itself by arguing that the law has been "gutted" by new language that prohibits business owners from using it to discriminate.
On March 26, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) signed the state's Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) into law. The measure initially provided a legal defense for those who refused to serve gay customers on religious grounds and sparked a widespread and bipartisan backlash across the country. Criticism of the measure eventually forced Pence and Indiana Republicans to agree to change the law. On April 2, Indiana's RFRA was amended to prohibit its use for individuals and business owners who discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
Fox News did not respond happily to the change.
On the April 3 edition of Fox & Friends, hosts Elisabeth Hasselbeck, Brian Kilmeade, and Tucker Carlson dedicated two segments to criticizing the law's amendment, decrying the lack of "moral courage" on the part of Pence and claiming the bill had been "gutted" by adding anti-discrimination protections for LGBT people. Carlson stated that he couldn't "make any sense of [the amendment] at all, it seems like the law has been completely gutted. It says specifically you can't use this law in court as a defense against denying service on the basis of your religious faith. So like, what's the point of the law in the first place?"
Fox News host and Daily Caller editor-in-chief Tucker Carlson acknowledged he instructs his employees that "you can't go after Fox ... because I work there." Carlson added that the rule is a "conflict" and "Is that unfair? Yes, it is. But that's what it is."
Carlson's policy surfaced after blogger Mickey Kaus quit the Caller when a piece critical of Fox News was yanked from the website. Kaus said Carlson told him he took down the post because "We can't trash Fox on the site. I work there."
Carlson acknowledged his rule prohibiting criticism of Fox News during a Real Clear Politics interview posted on April 2:
CARLSON: I have two rules. One is you can't criticize the families of the people who work here. And the other rule is you can't go after Fox. Only for one reason. Not because they're conservative or we agree them; because they're doing the Lord's work. Nothing like that. It's because I work there. I'm an anchor on Fox. And so I had a couple of my employees say, "Well, isn't that a conflict?" To which I said, "yes, it's a conflict. For sure." It's a conflict that I am the owner of The Daily Caller -- my business partner and I own it. And I'm an employee of Fox. That's a conflicted situation, but I don't know what to do about it.
Carlson added: "You don't criticize your employer. I mean that's just kind of 101 ... Is that unfair? Yes, it is. But that's what it is." Prior to being hired by Fox in 2009, Carlson was one of Fox's fiercest critics, calling the network "a mean, sick group of people" and The O'Reilly Factor a "shit" show hosted by "a thin-skinned blowhard."
In a 2010 interview, Carlson claimed that his then-new site was "not going to suck up to people," stating: "Our goal is not to get Republicans elected. Our goal is to explain what your government is doing. We're not going to suck up to people in power, the way so many have. There's been an enormous amount of throne-sniffing ... It's disgusting."
Though The Daily Caller won't allow criticism of Fox, there are a lot of things they'll still permit. This includes employing blatant sexists and producing sexist content; heckling the president during a Rose Garden address; publishing anti-science "reporting" denying the existence of depression; selling out readers to a firm they previously said is headed by a fraudster; and failing to adequately correct errors, among many other issues.
Washington Examiner correspondent Eddie Scarry tweeted in response to Carlson's admission that Glenn Beck's The Blaze enacted a similar policy against criticizing Fox News. Scarry, who worked for the conservative website from 2011-2014, wrote: "100% true: I was told at TheBlaze not to write about Fox News. But no editor there would have admitted that in public." He added that the rule "was because they didn't want to upset Fox, which has heavy clout with cable providers. Blaze really wants to be on Comcast."
UPDATE: Mickey Kaus tweeted the following in response to Tucker's admission (h/t Erik Wemple):
Tucker admirably honest about his No-Trash Fox rule. Except he didn't tell me about it when he signed me up (or ever) http://t.co/XeHxghMUtP-- Mickey Kaus (@kausmickey) April 2, 2015
Kaus expanded in a post on his website, writing that "The Rule is not sustainable. We're about to enter a media driven Republican presidential primary in which Fox is accused, not without basis, of favoring Jeb Bush" and "that means everything Daily Caller writes about Fox is suspect (of being BS) since they are presumably leaving out any bad parts, even if true" (emphasis in original).
From the April 2 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
From the March 31 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier:
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Tucker Carlson lauded Wyoming Catholic College's decision to reject federal funding and continue its discriminatory practices in the college's admissions and hiring processes.
The school recently chose to not participate in federal student aid programs, citing a desire to distance itself from the federal government's "influence and control." On the March 29 edition of Fox & Friends Sunday, host Tucker Carlson interviewed the school's president to discuss his institution's decision. President Kevin Roberts explained that the college was avoiding federal provisions that would require the educational establishment to respect basic protections for the LGBT community in the admissions and hiring processes.
Carlson: What are you concerned that the federal government would force you to do against your faith if you continue to take money?
Roberts: Well, as I said, we're a faithful Catholic college, which means that while we love all people and we have charity toward all, we would have problems with admissions and with employment with a transgendered person or someone with a same sex attraction who wanted to be active and an activist with that. And so, in spite of what people think the church may be changing in terms of the beliefs, we believe that in order to maintain church teaching on those principles that we ought not have strings attached to that federal money.
Carlson went on to ask Roberts if the school's move meant the institution could then set its own standards for hiring. Roberts responded saying Wyoming Catholic College would only selectively discriminate in its hiring and admissions processes:
Carlson: So, does this mean, because you're not going to be taking federal money, that you can have any employment standards that you wish?
Roberts: Well, within reason, right? We're not going to discriminate in other ways, but church teaching is very clear that if we were to have, say, a transgendered student want to apply it's not in line with church teaching. It does not mean we hate that person at all. We love them. But it simply doesn't square with the college we have founded in Wyoming.
From the March 25 edition of MSNBC's All In with Chris Hayes:
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The Daily Caller's founder and Editor-in-Chief Tucker Carlson dismissed questions about a controversial email revealing that his brother called New York City Major Bill de Blasio's female spokesperson a "self-righteous bitch" with "dick-fright" in response to her request for a correction in an article. Carlson responded that the comments were meant in the "nicest way."
On March 25, BuzzFeed reported that a spokesperson for de Blasio, Amy Spitalnick, contacted the Daily Caller to request a correction on a story regarding comments made by de Blasio on public transportation funding. After an exchange of emails with senior editor Christopher Bedford, who called her whiny and annoying, Spitalnick contacted Tucker Carlson to complain about Bedford's "appalling" and dismissive response. Carlson replied Spitalnick that agreed that her tone was "whiny and annoying," which he said was meant "in the spirit of helpful correction rather than criticism."
Carlson's brother, Buckley Carlson and "political strategist" for the site, replied to Tucker's response in an email that accidentally copied Spitalnick. The email contained several sexist comments: describing her as a whiny "little self-righteous bitch," with "extreme dick-fright," and called her "LabiaFace":
From: Buckley Carlson
Sent: Wednesday, March 25, 2015 3:18 PM
To: Tucker Carlson; Spitalnick, Amy (OMB)
Subject: Re: Correction Needed
Great response. Whiny little self-righteous bitch. "Appalling?"
And with such an ironic name, too...Spitalnick? Ironic because you just know she has extreme dick-fright; no chance has this girl ever had a pearl necklace. Spoogeneck? I don't think so. More like LabiaFace.
The full exchange is available at BuzzFeed.
The Daily Caller and its staff have a long and troubling history of sexist content. Tucker Carlson has downplayed sexual harassment and statutory rape of men as "whiny." And reporter Patrick Howley has a history of pushing misogynistic rhetoric and once claimed that looking "looking at a woman's chest will legally be a 'hate' crime instead of a love crime."
Daily Caller editor-in-chief Tucker Carlson reportedly won't allow criticism of his employer Fox News on his website. But prior to being hired as a contributor, he was one the network's biggest critics, calling Fox News "a mean, sick group of people" and The O'Reilly Factor a "shit" show hosted by "a thin-skinned blowhard."
Blogger Mickey Kaus quit his job at the Caller after Carlson removed a column criticizing Fox News for purportedly "not being the opposition on immigration and amnesty." (The conservative network has repeatedly attacked Obama's immigration reform plans, pushed falsehoods about immigration reform, and used anti-immigrant rhetoric.)
Kaus told Politico that Carlson told him he took down the post because "We can't trash Fox on the site. I work there." Kaus added that "he told Carlson he needed to be able to write about Fox" and "Carlson told him it was a hard-and-fast rule, and non-negotiable."
The blogger noted to Politico that Fox News has major influence on conservatives, stating: "It's a larger problem on the right: Everybody is scared of Fox ... Fox is their route to a high-profile public image and in some cases stardom. Just to be on a Fox show is a big deal."
Carlson is an example of how landing on the Fox News payroll stifles conservative criticism of the network. The former CNN, MSNBC, and PBS anchor hosts the weekend edition of Fox & Friends. But prior to joining Fox as a contributor in 2009, he was one of Fox's fiercest critics.