Military Personnel & Veterans

Issues ››› Military Personnel & Veterans
  • Fox News Caught Lying: Sweden Reinstated Draft Because Of Russia, Not Refugees

    Fox News Continues To Lie About Sweden And Refugees

    Blog ››› ››› THOMAS BISHOP

    Fox News’ Fox & Friends falsely claimed that Sweden’s reintroduction of the draft was due to violence in the country precipitated by refugees, when in fact the draft is being reintroduced to counter Russian aggression in the region.

    Despite Fox’s assertion, Sweden’s government is reintroducing the draft for men and women in the country “because of what its defense minister called a deteriorating security environment in Europe and around Sweden” according to a March 2 report from the Washington Post. Sweden ended the draft in 2010, but is reactivating conscription due to “increasing pressure” by Russia on the Baltic region. From the Washington Post:

    Sweden’s left-leaning government instituted a military draft for both men and women Thursday because of what its defense minister called a deteriorating security environment in Europe and around Sweden.

    [...]

    In September, non-NATO-member Sweden stationed permanent troops on the Baltic Sea island of Gotland. Defense Minister Peter Hultqvist described the move as sending a signal after Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea and its “increasing pressure” on the neighboring Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

    There have also been reports of airspace violations by Russia’s military aircraft in the Baltics and a military buildup in the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad, which sits across the Baltic Sea from Sweden.

    Fox News, which has demonized and criticized western countries accepting Muslims, reported the Swedish draft was a response to the violence in the country allegedly perpetrated by refugees. During a March 3 segment on Fox & Friends, anchor Heather Nauert said the draft was a “sign that President Trump may be right about Sweden,” claiming that the move is “to combat the brewing terrorism problem in Europe”:

    Since Trump’s statement claiming Muslim refugees have sparked violence in Sweden, Fox News has attempted to cover for his false claim by launching a campaign of misinformation which has included defending Trump by pushing anti-Muslim myths and using deceptive practices to fabricate claims that the Swedish government is downplaying refugee violence in the country. Host Bill O’Reilly was forced to admit on his show that he lied about a guest he claimed to be a “Swedish Defense advisor,” when in fact the man had no affiliation with the Swedish government, and didn’t even live in the country.

  • Fox News Is Where Hopefuls Are Auditioning For Trump's Cabinet

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN

    Fox News gave its contributors Pete Hegseth and Scott Brown platforms to publicly audition to be President-elect Donald Trump’s secretary of veterans affairs, a position for which they are both reportedly being considered.

    On the December 16 edition of Fox & Friends, Hegseth answered viewers' questions about veterans' issues and explained his vision for the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA). The hosts openly acknowledged Hegseth’s possible pick as VA secretary, and he acted as if the segment were an audition for the role, answering questions sent to the show, such as, “How will the VA combat corruption and avoid awarding bonuses to executives who do not meet targeted objectives?” and, “What will you do about the corrupt unions that continue to play politics and use intimidation tactics to keep all corruption issues quiet?” In addition to pushing for firing certain VA officials and allowing the use of private doctors, he bragged that the VA union disliked him because “we've been taking them on for years.” Hegseth discussed his meetings with Trump and lauded the president-elect for being “willing to fight back” and said he will be “an amazing president.”

    The same day, Brown appeared on America’s Newsroom, where he also acknowledged he was “in the mix” for the VA position and was asked by co-host Bill Hemmer “what [his] big sales point” was to Trump about why he deserved the position. Brown said he had “political” and “media experience” and pushed for fixing “mismanagement” at the VA. He also praised Trump’s “plain talk” and his “positive” message.

    Hegseth and Brown are reportedly top contenders to be Trump’s VA secretary, and have met with Trump multiple times to discuss the position. According to The New York Times, veterans groups have strongly opposed Hegseth and Brown. The groups told the Times that their opposition to Hegseth stems from his work with “Republican-funded activist groups and think tanks that have portrayed veterans health care as feckless and corrupt,” including the right-wing group Concerned Veterans for America (CVA) where he served as CEO. The group, which is backed by the Koch brothers and supports the privatization of the VA, has been criticized for its “partisan attacks” against Democrats. Hegseth was also criticized by veterans groups for his position that veterans should have “the choice to seek care in the private sector,” which those groups said could “siphon billions of dollars away from veterans hospitals, causing the system to collapse.”

    Joe Chenelly, the executive director of the advocacy group Amvets, told the Times that Brown “lacks the experience to run a nationwide health care and benefits system with 350,000 employees.” Brown, a former Republican senator, has used Fox multiple times previously as a platform to criticize the VA and the Obama administration’s promise to help veterans.

    If picked to head the VA, Hegseth or Brown would join the multiple Fox personalities who have joined or are being considered for the incoming Trump administration.

  • VA Reiterates That NRA Violated Ban On “Partisan Activities” By Filming Political Ad At Military Cemetery

    VA’s National Cemetery Administration: Political Ads Filmed At Cemeteries “Are Not Compatible With Preserving The Dignity And Tranquility Of The National Cemeteries”

    Blog ››› ››› JOE STRUPP & TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    As the National Rifle Association continues to use footage it filmed at a national cemetery in political attack ads, the Department of Veterans Affairs’ National Cemetery Administration (NCA) reiterated to Media Matters that had the NRA asked permission to film, the request would have been denied.

    So far, the NRA has used footage it filmed at Alexandria National Cemetery in political ads targeting Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and Florida Democratic Senate candidate Patrick Murphy. In the ad targeting Clinton, which was released in June, Mark Geist, a survivor of the 2012 Benghazi, Libya, terror attacks, criticized Clinton’s handling of the attacks while walking next to gravestones. Footage from the same cemetery again appeared in a September Benghazi-themed ad targeting Murphy that the NRA is spending nearly $900,000 to air.

    Asked about the NRA’s continued use of the footage, NCA spokesperson Jessica Schiefer told Media Matters, “NCA did not receive a request from the NRA to film the subject advertisement. If we had received such a request, we would have denied it based on the partisan content. Partisan activities are prohibited on national cemetery grounds as they are not compatible with preserving the dignity and tranquility of the national cemeteries as national shrines.”

    As Schiefer explained, “As always, our Veterans, their families and survivors are our top priority. To maintain the sanctity and decorum of VA National Cemeteries as national shrines, our filming policy states that filming may not be used for the expression of partisan or political viewpoints, or for uses that are (or may be interpreted as) an endorsement of a commercial entity.”

    According to NCA filming rules, “Political activities, including filming of campaign ads, are not permitted on cemetery grounds.”

    VoteVets.org also criticized the NRA’s continued use of the footage, telling Media Matters that “the NRA is doubling down” on “this despicable approach to campaigning.” In its full statement, VoteVets.org encouraged people to sign its petition asking for the NRA to pull its ad:

    Earlier this year, the National Rifle Association ran a television ad attacking Hillary Clinton that was filmed inside of a veterans' cemetery.

    It was a disgrace. The Veterans of Foreign Wars even took steps to condemn the ad by saying they "don't want any candidate using our dead to score political points."

    But the NRA is doubling down, and this week they released a second ad in Florida featuring military graves, but this time in addition to attacking Hillary Clinton, the spot also trains its sights on Democrat Patrick Murphy's U.S. Senate campaign.

    This is deplorable, and we hope that if we can bring light to this despicable approach to campaigning we can get the NRA to pull the spot.

    Sign VoteVets' petition calling on the National Rifle Association to apologize for their ads featuring military graves, and to pull them from wherever they're running on television and the internet.

    When John McCain's ad team did the same in 1999, the Senator admitted wrongdoing and removed the footage. Further, the spots violate Veterans Affairs policies. Hopefully by making our voices heard, the NRA will pull the spots from the air.

    Reached for comment, a spokesperson for Veterans of Foreign Wars repeated its past criticism of the NRA for filming in military cemeteries, which stated, “Don’t use our dead to score political points. We fought for everybody’s First Amendment rights and everything, but we don’t want any candidate using our dead to score political points.”

  • Cable Networks Were "Played Like A Fiddle" By Donald Trump’s “20-Second” Birther Statement

    ››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS

    A slew of media critics and commentators shamed cable news networks for being “played” into providing free live coverage of a campaign event for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. After Trump teased a “major announcement,” cable news networks provided wall-to-wall coverage in anticipation that Trump would address criticism over his role in pushing conspiracy theories that President Obama was not born in the U.S. Trump’s mere seconds-long statement “came only after a lengthy campaign event featuring military officers and award winners who have endorsed him,” turning it into “a de facto commercial for the GOP candidate.”

  • Reporters Castigate NBC's Matt Lauer For Letting Trump Lie About Opposing Iraq War

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Reporters slammed NBC's Matt Lauer for allowing Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump to lie about his purported opposition to the Iraq War. 

    Trump regularly claims in interviews and on the stump that he opposed the war from the beginning, and repeated that claim during NBC's September 7 Commander-in-Chief Forum. There is no evidence to support this claim and February reporting from BuzzFeed News showed Trump voiced support “for invading Iraq” in 2002 and termed it a "tremendous success" after the invasion began.

    When Lauer allowed Trump to repeat the lie, journalists across the spectrum highlighted the falsehood and ripped into him for failing to follow up.