Unbalanced: Fox News' conspiracy theory obsession

››› ››› OLIVER WILLIS

Fox News and its employees have played a role in hosting, promoting and repeating conspiracy theories -- including claims that President Obama isn't a U.S. citizen, 9-11 conspiracy theories, suggestions that Obama is a Muslim, and conspiracies involving the Gulf oil spill.

Fox's 9/11 Truther

Fox host Andrew Napolitano is a 9/11 truther. In an interview with conspiracy theorist and "9/11 truth" movement leader Alex Jones, Fox host Andrew Napolitano said that it's "hard for me to believe that" World Trade Center building 7 "came down by itself" -- a central tenet of 9-11 conspiracy theories -- and claimed that "twenty years from now, people will look at 9-11 the way we look at the assassination of JFK today. It couldn't possibly have been done the way the government told us."

The Fox Birther Network

Fox & Friends hosted John LeBoutillier, who promoted discredited birther conspiracies. On the November 29 edition of Fox & Friends, John LeBoutillier -- former Republican congressman and current columnist for the right-wing website Newsmax -- promoted his new novel, which purports to be factually based. Among the stories in the book, according to LeBoutillier, is that "Obama's grandmother, living in Kenya, we have her in the book, it's fiction, but in reality she has claimed consistently that he was born in Mombasa, Kenya. She said this, adamantly, on the record. So we used that in the book." That claim has long been discredited.

Fox hired birther promoter Lou Dobbs to host Fox Business Show. Fox hired former CNN host Lou Dobbs to host a show on Fox Business. On his CNN show, Dobbs claimed that the birth certificate for President Obama hosted on FactCheck.org wasn't "the real document," and on his radio show said the document was not "the real deal."

Fox analyst Thomas McInerney said there were "widespread and legitimate concerns that the President is constitutionally ineligible to hold office." Retired Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney, a Fox News military analyst, filed an affidavit (reported by pro-birther site WorldNetDaily) claiming there are "widespread and legitimate concerns that the President is constitutionally ineligible to hold office." McInerney also expressed support for an Army officer facing court-martial who refused to obey orders "until the president produces his original birth certificate."

Fox host Sean Hannity on birthers: "[A]ll they wanted to do was say, 'Where's the birth certificate?' That's all they were asking." On the August 12, 2009, edition of his radio show, Hannity said, "This huge birther thing is another huge distraction. To try and portray conservatives as a bunch of right-wing nutjob kooks when people all they wanted to do was say, 'where's the birth certificate?' That's all they were asking. 'Show us the birth certificate.' "

Fox Nation promoted false "home country" video. On April 5, Fox Nation promoted a video created by birthers that purported to show Michelle Obama claiming Kenya as President Obama's "home country." In fact, the two-year-old video was a reference by Mrs. Obama to thepresident's ancestors, who come from Kenya.

Fox repeatedly hosted birther Jerome Corsi. On his September 2 show, Hannity hosted Jerome Corsi on the "Great American Panel."Corsi also appeared on the November 23 edition of Fox Business' Freedom Watch. Corsi has written many articles that promote birther claims for WorldNetDaily, including the following: "Doubts persist about Obama birth certificate, Considerable evidence still points to candidate's birth in Kenya"; "New doubts revealed in Obama's nativity story"; and "Just who delivered baby Barack Obama?"

Fox Nation repeatedly promoted birther stories using picture of Obama in Somali clothes. On July 14, 2009, The Fox Nation featured these stories and images:

On July 20, 2009, The Fox Nation featured this story and image:

Fox Nation promoted WorldNetDaily birther article. On July 16, 2009, The Fox Nation featured the following image, linked to a WorldNetDaily article promoting a birther's challenge to President Obama.

Fox promotes falsehoods about Obama's faith

Fox & Friends had to "clarify" after pushing false smear Obama attended a "madrassa." On the January 19, 2007, editions of Fox & Friends First and Fox & Friends, co-hosts Brian Kilmeade, Steve Doocy, and Gretchen Carlson spent several segments advancing a false report that then-Sen. Barack Obama was raised a Muslim and attended a madrassa, or Islamic school, as a child in Indonesia. At one point, Doocy asked: "When people find out this stuff, they're going to go, 'Why didn't anybody ever mention that that man right there was raised as -- spent the first decade of his life raised by his Muslim father as a Muslim and was educated in a madrassa?' " Kilmeade responded, "Yeah, is that a problem?" He added: "Evidently, when he was a little kid, he went over to Indonesia and went to a madrassa. He -- in his two best-selling books, he doesn't really mention this in detail."

On the January 22, 2007, edition of Fox & Friends First, Doocy said he had to "clarify" the show's reporting on the fabricated madrassa story,stating that "Mr. Obama's people called and they said that that is absolutely false. They said the idea that Barack Obama went to a radical Muslim school is completely ridiculous."

Nearly three years later, Coulter claimed Obama "attended madrassas." On the December 28, 2009, edition of The O'Reilly Factor, conservative columnist Ann Coulter said, "Andrew Sullivan pointed out, you know, what are these radical Islamists going to do when they look and see the president of the great Satan. And you know, he has brown skin. And he attended madrassas. And he talks about how he's so moved by the call to prayer five times a day. He used to hear in Indonesia. If anyone can say we're going to look for radical Islamists, it ought to be President Obama." Guest host Eric Bolling did not correct Coulter's falsehood that Obama "attended madrassas."

Coulter: Obama went "to madrassas as a child." On the December 30, 2009, edition of Glenn Beck, Coulter said: "And like I say, Obama can be doing more than Bush. He is specially situated that way, as having gone to madrassas as a child, not being a white male, which is, you know, the height of political incorrectness, but just the contrary, we're moving in exactly doing the -- making -- repeating the worst mistakes of the Bush administration."

Fox News' Special Report asks of Obama: "Islam or Isn't He?" During a June 4, 2009,segment, Fox News' Special Report aired a quote by Obama national security official Denis McDonough, in which he talked about how Obama "experienced Islam on three continents" and grew up in Indonesia with a Muslim father, and asked: "Islam or Isn't He?"

Fox & Friends sees "Muslim image" in logo for Nuclear Security Summit. On the April 14 edition of Fox & Friends, co-hosts Brian Kilmeade and Gretchen Carlson promoted the story that the logo of the Nuclear Security Summit contained a "Muslim image." In fact, the logo was designed to mimic the Rutherford-Bohr Model of an atom.

Hume claimed Jerusalem Post story quoted Obama's half brother about "Muslim background." On the June 18, 2008, edition ofSpecial Report, Brit Hume stated that Malik Obama, Barack Obama's half-brother, "tells The Jerusalem Post that 'if elected his brother will be a good president for the Jewish people, despite his Muslim background.' " In fact, Obama's half brother did not speak to The Jerusalem Postfor the article cited by Hume (he spoke to Israel's Army Radio), and subsequent audio of the interview indicated that Malik Obama did not refer to Barack Obama as having a Muslim background. Hume later issued an on-air correction for the false claim that Malik Obama had said Barack Obama has such a background.

Fox promoted oil spill conspiracy theories

Michael Brown on Fox News: Obama wanted oil spill so he could "shut down" offshore drilling.On the May 3 edition of Your World with Neil Cavuto, former FEMA chief Michael Brown repeatedly suggested that the Obama administration deliberately chose to let the BP oil spill "get really bad" so it would have an "excuse" to "shut down offshore drilling."

Perino: "[W]as this deliberate?" On the May 3 edition of Fox & Friends, Fox News contributor Dana Perino said of the spill: "I'm not trying to introduce a conspiracy theory, but was this deliberate? You have to wonder... if there was sabotage involved."

Bolling falsely claimed it was "nine days before" the leak "was even addressed" and asked, "Did they let this thing leak? ... if they're going to try and pull drilling, that may be the way they do it." On the same broadcast of Fox & Friends, Fox Business Network host Eric Bolling said: "The question is ... why the delay in the response? You guys were pointing out, nine days before it was even addressed, 12 days before he made a formal comment. The question is, did they let this thing leak? I mean, BP said maybe a thousand barrels a day, it went to five thousand. Did they let it leak a little bit and say, boy I don't know. The conspiracy theorists would say, 'maybe they'd let it leak for a while, and then they addressed the issue.'" Bolling added: "That would be a humongous accusation and probably the net result would be no different, but if they're going to try and pull drilling, that may be the way they do it."

Beck claimed Obama refused international help with spill in order to pass cap and trade. On the June 30 edition of his Fox News show, Glenn Beck falsely claimed that President Obama refused international help with the oil spill for 71 days in order to create an "emergency" to help getting cap and trade legislation passed. In fact, international relief was accepted early into the incident.

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