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  • Fox News Omits Key Facts Regarding Unprecedented Arkansas Death Penalty Cases

    Blog ››› ››› NINA MAST

    During its reporting on the state of Arkansas’ unprecedented plan to execute eight inmates in 11 days, Fox News repeatedly omitted important details about the legal challenges to the plan, downplayed the extent of criticism to the plan, and misled its viewers on the reasons the executions have not yet been carried out.

    On the April 18 edition of Fox News’ Happening Now, host Jon Scott opened a panel discussion by asking, “The reasoning for this holdup has nothing to do with the lethal injection drugs that are currently in question, right?” In fact, one of the orders blocking the executions was issued for that exact reason. The Arkansas circuit judge temporarily blocked the state from using one of its drugs, vecuronium bromide, a paralytic used in prisons for lethal injections (and for other purposes elsewhere).This ruling came after McKesson, a distributor of pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, filed a complaint alleging that the Arkansas Department of Corrections (ADC) “intentionally sought to circumvent McKesson’s policies by claiming that the drug would only be used for medical reasons in a health facility.” The ADC has to date declined to answer questions about how it obtained the restricted drugs or whether it planned to return them.

    An hour before Scott’s show aired, correspondent Casey Stegall noted on Fox’s America’s Newsroom that “states have had a difficult time getting new supplies of this drug [midazolam] because many critics say it should not be used to kill people.” He was referring to another drug that Arkansas has in its possession but which will expire on April 30. Stegall, however, failed to mention that these “critics” include the drug makers themselves. West-Ward Pharmaceuticals, the company that makes midazolam, and Fresenius Kabi USA, manufacturer of potassium chloride, another drug used in executions, have also expressed opposition to the use of their drugs for lethal injection. In an amicus brief they filed with the district court, the companies wrote that using their medicines in executions “runs counter to the manufacturers’ mission to save and enhance patients’ lives.” Spokespersons for Fresenius Kabi and West-Ward told The Washington Post that they had “recently learned” that their medicines “might be used in Arkansas lethal injections.” The reporting on these drugs shows that all three drugs used in Arkansas’ lethal injection cocktail are implicated in legal battles. Thus for Fox to imply that the planned executions are opposed merely by “critics” is a gross understatement of the legal challenges ADC is facing.

    During his reporting, Stegall also failed to provide context for the shortage of the drugs in the first place. Since 2011, many European drug companies, in an alignment with the European Union’s objection to death penalty, have decided to cease shipment of their drugs to U.S. prisons that carry out executions via lethal injections. This has created a shortage that has led U.S. prisons to turn to dangerous experimentation, as was in the case in 2014, when Dennis McGuire, an Ohio inmate on death row, was injected with a never-before-used drug cocktail. McGuire’s execution lasted 25 minutes, the longest in Ohio’s history, and witnesses said he “gasped several times throughout” before dying.

    After criminal defense attorney Yodit Tewolde explained that “for Arkansas to try to rush executions for the sake of a drug expiring at the end of the month is disrespectful to the intent of justice in this case,” Scott ignored her point and flippantly remarked that it “seems odd” to characterize the response to a crime that happened in 1992 as a “rush to judgment.” His comment and Casey Stegall’s claim that the “expedited timeline” was initiated because “the state is up against this deadline” of expiring drugs ignores the legal implications of their expiration. Arkansas’ “rush” to use drugs before their expiration for purposes which are opposed by the companies that sell them is a potentially illegal contract violation, and given the state’s reported admission that it violated contracts with drug makers in an earlier case, this context is especially important.

    Arkansas hasn’t carried out any executions since 2005. The state’s aggressive and potentially unconstitutional plan to execute eight inmates in 11 days is unprecedented, hugely consequential, and has drawn national scrutiny at a time when Americans’ support for the death penalty is on the decline. Leaving out important details when reporting on such a high profile case is an inexcusable journalistic failure, especially given the American public’s lack of knowledge about capital punishment in the nation’s prisons.

    Image by Sarah Wasko.

  • Media Fall For And Reinforce Trump’s Spin On “Buy American, Hire American” Executive Order

    ››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS

    Multiple media outlets and figures uncritically reported on President Donald Trump’s planned executive order promoting policies that encourage the federal government to “buy American” and “hire American” wherever possible. These outlets and figures did not note that the executive order only calls for a review of current policy, and does not meaningfully change it, and some other outlets buried those crucial details in their reporting.

  • NRA Spokesperson Pushes Gun Group's Top Legislative Priority On Fox News Without Disclosure

    Blog ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS

    Fox News hosted National Rifle Association spokesperson Dana Loesch where she advocated for the organization's top legislative priority, the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017, though Fox failed to disclose her NRA ties and identified her only as a “syndicated radio host.”

    After spending over $30 million during the presidential election to support Trump, the NRA has made the concealed carry reciprocity bill its top legislative priority. Federal reciprocity legislation mandates that states recognize concealed carry permits issued by any other state.

    Loesch, who has worked as an NRA commentator, recently started working for the gun group as a spokesperson. On February 21, the NRA put out a press release which stated that Loesch “will serve as a major national spokesperson for the National Rifle Association.” She was also named special assistant to NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre “with direct attributable authority on NRA matters.” LaPierre “reiterated that Loesch now has full authority to represent the NRA on a broad range of issues” in the press release.

    During the April 17 edition of Fox News’ America’s Newsroom, host Bill Hemmer asked Loesch to “grade” President Donald Trump’s first 100 days, and gave the NRA spokesperson a platform to push for national concealed carry reciprocity without disclosing any of her ties. Loesch said she would give Trump “between a B++ and an A-,” but said she is “waiting for national reciprocity.” At the end of interview, she said that if Trump can push national reciprocity through, she’ll give him an “A with a sticker”:

    BILL HEMMER (HOST): So the clock is ticking down on President Trump’s first 100 days in office. Already the critics and the pundits are weighing in. Here to give him a grade, Dana Loesch, national syndicated radio talk show host with me now. [...] We found an editorial in the New York Post. Here is the headline, you ready? “Trump's first 100 days have been better than you think.” And then we found a headline in the New York Times and it said “100 days of horror.” So you go ahead and choose. Which would you like to address, Dana?

    [...]

    HEMMER: How would you grade what you have seen from this White House in the first three months , Dana?

    DANA LOESCH: I would say that I would give the grade of -- right now, I'm going between a B++ and an A- , only because I'm waiting for national reciprocity. I get that national reciprocity, the country gets that national reciprocity, I think that bumps right up. But I think the first 100 days, I think he has done incredibly well and I think that he has kept his promises. And I know the media wants to look at the healthcare reform. The healthcare reform failed ultimately because this was something that was rushed through. There wasn't a general consensus before they took it to the floor. I think a lot of this was -- have to put it down on Paul Ryan. I think congressman -- Speaker Ryan was really trying to push it out there and I think that they needed a little bit more time and they needed to look at some of the previous plans which passed including Jim Jordan's in 2015 which also allowed a two-year grace period to make sure that a market based plan could be implemented. The House Freedom Caucus which is the representation of the Tea Party, that same momentum that launched Trump into the White House I think held its ground and I think that it actually will serve Trump well and the Trump administration. So I think the failures that the media wants to put upon him really are media projections. And of course the media has been drip, drip, dripping, leak, leak, leak. We have to think about a Susan Rice using an apparatus that was designed to protect America from terrorism and using that same apparatus potentially to spy on free Americans over dissent. I think that that's incredibly huge and it's being buried by the very media like The New York Times, Bill.

    HEMMER: All interesting. I'll put you down for a B+ and you do know this White House --

    LOESCH: B++. I know they’re watching right now, if President Trump can put that national reciprocity, I’m happy to put an A with a sticker.

    One version of concealed carry reciprocity introduced in the House by Rep. Richard Hudson (R-NC) would “dramatically alter the way states regulate who can carry concealed firearms within their borders,” according to The Trace. States that do require concealed carry permits have varying standards, but under Hudson’s bill “states that set high bars for concealed carry would be compelled to welcome gun-toting visitors” from any state, regardless of carry requirements.

  • With Tax March Looming, Watch Fox’s Absurd Defense Of Trump Hiding His Tax Returns

    ››› ››› ALEX MORASH

    Donald Trump broke with decades of precedent in 2016 by refusing to release his tax returns in the midst of his presidential campaign, a stubborn refusal he has maintained since taking office in January. On April 15, the day tax filings are traditionally due, Americans will march in over 100 cities around the country to demand that the president fully disclose his tax and financial records. Before the Tax March, take a look at some attempts by Trump's team of Fox News sycophants to defend his unprecedented refusal to disclose his tax returns.

  • Punditry On Syrian Airstrikes Is Encouraging Trump To Escalate Tensions With North Korea

    Similar Media Support Helped Enable Iraq War

    ››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS

    After President Donald Trump launched airstrikes against Syria in retaliation for a chemical weapons attack in that country, media figures from across the political spectrum praised his “beautiful” attack, with many also linking the action to the growing threat that another country -- North Korea -- poses to the United States. Effusive media support of military conflict was a key precursor to the Iraq War; the danger of such uncritically hawkish commentary has multiplied under Trump, who sources policy ideas -- and defenses for his conduct -- directly from media.

  • Right-Wing Media Attempt To Absolve Trump Of Alleged Russia Ties After Strike On Syrian Regime Airbase

    ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ

    Right-wing media are dismissing possible ties between President Donald Trump and his associates and Russian officials after he ordered U.S. warships to launch a cruise missile strike on a Syrian airbase after a chemical weapons attack killed dozens of civilians, claiming the strike “may be undercutting allegations of his ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.” Right-wing media have also recently spun a report regarding a cybersecurity firm that “was the first to link last year’s hacks of Democratic Party computers to Russian actors,” in an attempt to discredit the intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia interfered in the 2016 election to aid Trump.

  • Media Praise Trump For Ordering Missile Attack On Syrian Airbase

    ››› ››› JARED HOLT

    Media figures and pundits celebrated President Donald Trump’s “swift, decisive” order to destroy a Syrian airbase in retaliation for what is believed to be a chemical warfare attack against Syrian rebels that killed dozens of people, including children. Pundits praised Trump’s “readiness to act on instinct” and declared that Trump “made Americans proud.”

  • Will Fox Continue Its CBO Smear Campaign With More White House Talking Points?

    Fox News Spent Days Attempting To Discredit The CBO In Advance Of Its Report Outlining That Millions Will Lose Health Insurance Under GOP Plan

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX MORASH

    Fox News pushed White House talking points attacking the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) in an attempt to discredit the nonpartisan scorekeeper before it released today’s report projecting the effects of the Republican plan to repeal Obamacare -- the American Health Care Act (AHCA). The report’s devastating findings -- that up to 24 million people would lose their health insurance coverage over the next decade under the GOP health care plan -- are now public. Will Fox News continue to borrow White House talking points to carry water for the disastrous plan?

    On March 13, the CBO reported that the number of Americans without health insurance would grow to a staggering 52 million people by 2026 under the GOP’s health care plan, AHCA, compared to an estimated 28 million who are projected to remain uninsured under current law. President Donald Trump’s administration and Republican leaders in Congress had tried to smear the CBO -- the nonpartisan research arm of Congress tasked with analysing the budgetary and economic impacts of legislative proposals -- in advance of the widely anticipated report, which many correctly predicted would find that the GOP plan will throw millions off their health insurance.

    White House officials began a campaign to discredit the CBO on March 8 when during a press briefing White House press secretary -- and renowned liar -- Sean Spicer questioned the work of the nonpartisan researchers at CBO, telling reporters that “if you're looking at the CBO for accuracy, you're looking in the wrong place.” This was an about-face from what the director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), Mick Mulvaney, stated on MSNBC’s Morning Joe earlier that day when he claimed “the only question” on the CBO scoring was whether it will it be “really good” or “great” for the Trump administration. Despite his initial optimism, Mulvaney too joined in on attacking the CBO on the March 12 edition of ABC’s This Week, downplaying the effectiveness of the office’s analysis and misleadingly claiming that the agency did not score the Affordable Care Act (ACA) -- also called Obamacare -- accurately. Secretary of Health and Human Services, Tom Price, also blasted the CBO on the March 12 edition of NBC’s Meet The Press.

    In the hours leading up to the CBO’s March 13 report release, Fox News figures attempted to discredit the organization with talking points straight from the Trump administration. Co-host Brian Kilmeade claimed on Fox and Friends that the CBO was tricked into scoring the ACA inaccurately because it did not score the mandate as a tax, adding that the CBO fell “hook, line, and sinker” for some sort of Democratic plan to bring about single-payer health care. On America’s Newsroom, Washington Examiner columnist Byron York claimed the Trump administration’s allegation that CBO had inaccurately scored the ACA years ago was “absolutely true.” On Outnumbered, co-host Melissa Francis claimed “the CBO does get everything wrong” and complained that the CBO underestimated the cost of Medicaid expansion under the ACA. On Fox Business’ Varney & Co., host Stuart Varney’s anti-CBO talking points were rebuffed by Harvard economist and former CBO director Douglas Elmendorf, who pointed out that the office correctly predicted that the number of uninsured would fall under ACA, it accurately projected premium increases under the law, and it actually overestimated the long-term cost of enacting Obamacare.

    As soon as the CBO’s devastating report on the short- and long-term effects of repealing Obamacare and enacting the AHCA was released this afternoon, Fox News turned to discredited New York Post columnist, former Trump economic adviser, and serial health care misinformer Betsy McCaughey to double down on its campaign against the CBO. McCaughey slammed the report as “implausible” for finding that tens of millions would lose health insurance coverage under the Republican health care plan, but happily accepted the same report’s finding of marginal deficit reductions stemming from the repeal of health insurance subsidies to low-income Americans. From the March 13 edition of Fox’s Your World with Neil Cavuto:

    According to an independent analysis of the CBO’s Affordable Care Act estimates from the Commonwealth Fund, the office’s health care policy analysis regarding the ACA actually “proved to be reasonably accurate” and was thrown off by Supreme Court decisions and GOP political obstruction that it had no way to forecast. Even James Capretta of the conservative American Enterprise Institute warned that it may “tempting for GOP leaders to say CBO is wrong” but it would be difficult to “make a credible case” that the repeal plan would not reduce the number of people with health insurance.

  • Conservative Media Split On Who To Blame For Trump's Attempt To Destroy Health Care

    ››› ››› MADELINE PELTZ

    Conservative media figures can’t decide who to blame for the disastrous American Health Care Act (AHCA), which seeks to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and will endanger the health insurance of millions of Americans. Despite President Donald Trump taking credit for this effort to roll back health care reform, right-wing media figures and outlets are grappling over whether they should fault the president for “Trumpcare” or absolve him of responsibility.