The conservative National Review Online (NRO) released a comprehensive feature of conservatives attacking current GOP front runner Donald Trump, highlighting the divisive 2016 Republican primary season. National Review editors and right-wing personalities such as Glenn Beck, Bill Kristol, and Erick Erickson criticized Trump as a "philosophically unmoored political opportunist" and "the very epitome of vulgarity."
Fox News' Oliver North suggested that the Obama administration's State Department is holding "secret auction[s] to the high bidder" for countries willing to take Guantanamo Bay detainees.
On the January 21 edition of On The Record with Greta Van Susteren, Oliver North speculated that the Obama administration and Secretary of State John Kerry engaged in a "quid pro quo" scheme with the country of Oman, who he claimed agreed to take Guantanamo Bay detainees in exchange for weapons:
OLIVER NORTH: Unfortunately, this president in his campaign promise way back in 2008, he made the campaign promise that he was going to close Gitmo within a year of taking office. Well, that didn't happen for very good reasons. Even his own investigation sent down there to go to Camp Delta there were no people there that were harmless goat herders, these were terrorists. These were bad people who tried to kill Americans and in some cases succeeded. Think about this. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the 9/11/01 attack on the United States, and with four airliners fly into buildings and killed nearly 3,000 people. He is one of the last to go. Where will he go? Think about what just happened with Oman. Ten detainees here are released to Oman and a week later Oman gets --
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN (HOST): A weapons deal.
NORTH: Yes, a $51 million weapons deal that they've been asking for, for years.
VAN SUSTEREN: It's incredible. Said it's a coincidence. Obama administration says it's a coincidence. We're not that stupid.
NORTH: Think about this. Is the Kerry State Department holding a secret auction to the high bidder, secret sealed bids on who will take Khalid Sheikh Mohammed? Think about it. I mean, if you look at what's happening with this administration, there is no concern for the safety of American troops or American citizens. This administration ought to be held accountable.
NORTH: I'll give you a prediction. Within six months of the new administration in Washington there will be an investigation that finds quid pro quo and things were provided to these governments for taking these incredibly bad people.
Van Susteren invited North to push his baseless conspiracy theory without disclosing North's own relationship with illegally selling weapons in the Iran-Contra affair in 1985. North, then a Lieutenant Colonel, was fired after it was discovered that he" had been diverting funds from the arms sales [with Iran] to the Contras," anti-communist rebels in Nicaragua.
In 1985, while Iran and Iraq were at war, Iran made a secret request to buy weapons from the United States. McFarlane sought Reagan's approval, in spite of the embargo against selling arms to Iran.
With the backing of the president, the plan progressed. By the time the sales were discovered, more than 1,500 missiles had been shipped to Iran. Three hostages had been released, only to be replaced with three more, in what Secretary of State George Shultz called "a hostage bazaar."
While probing the question of the arms-for-hostages deal, Attorney General Edwin Meese discovered that only $12 million of the $30 million the Iranians reportedly paid had reached government coffers. Then-unknown Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North of the National Security Council explained the discrepancy: he had been diverting funds from the arms sales to the Contras, with the full knowledge of National Security Adviser Admiral John Poindexter and with the unspoken blessing, he assumed, of President Reagan.
Poindexter resigned, and North was fired.
Fox News host Neil Cavuto told Chairman of the House Select Committee on Benghazi Trey Gowdy (R-SC), that his on-going investigation into the attacks will only "carry currency" if the FBI acts against Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton or "recommends taking actions with the Justice Department."
Following the January 14 Republican presidential debate on the Fox Business Network, Neil Cavuto suggested to Gowdy that the only way for the Benghazi Select Committee to "carry currency" is "if the FBI acts on this or recommends taking actions with the Justice Department." Gowdy responded by suggesting that the committee's findings were a forgone conclusion, claiming "the smoking gun is the fact that she had her own unique server arrangement," but noted "whether or not there's any criminality ... the voters can judge that:
NEIL CAVUTO (HOST): At the Benghazi hearings a lot of people were saying, alright, Gowdy's got to deliver a knockout blow here. And after all those hours, [people are] amazed by your legal skills and ability to parlay this and go after her, maybe the mainstream media attention, all that they said in the end they didn't lay a glove on her. What do you make of that?
TREY GOWDY: I think the smoking gun is the fact that she had her own unique server arrangement.
CAVUTO: And that ironically could be her real Achilles heel.
GOWDY: But you know the world we live in Neil, once people know that she had her own server, that's no longer the smoking gun. But go back two years ago. If you were told that a Benghazi committee would find her emails that nobody else found, Chris Stevens' emails that nobody else found, and Patrick Kennedy, Susan Rice, you would say "they did a great job." Those are all home runs.
CAVUTO: But it's like people almost want to say, this will only carry currency I think, and I think you raise a number of great issues to your point, if the FBI acts on this or recommends taking actions with the Justice Department. What do you think happens if that happens, Congressman, but the Justice Department doesn't act?
Gowdy: There's one jury that our framers gave us every four years in November and the fact that DOJ may or may not do something, the voters can certainly mete out their own discipline and to Senator Rubio's point the mishandling of information, the decision to have your own server, whether or not there's any criminality, the jury can judge that. The voters can judge that.
The latest admission by Cavuto and Gowdy that the goal of the select committee is to "deliver a knockout blow" to Hillary Clinton comes after months of allegations that the committee abandoned conducting a comprehensive investigation into the attacks, turning its mission instead into a political "sham" meant to damage Clinton.
In October 2015, The New York Times reported that Bradley Podliska, a former investigator on the Republican-led Benghazi committee, accused the committee of becoming "preoccupied with the State Department's role in the controversy surrounding the Benghazi attack and less interested in a comprehensive investigation."
A month earlier, in September 2015, Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), came under fire for comments he made on Fox News' Hannity in which he boasted that the Benghazi committee was damaging Hillary Clinton's poll numbers. McCarthy's comments led to a repudiation from House Republicans with Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) calling on McCarthy to apologize.
Fox News host Neil Cavuto invited Republican pollster Frank Luntz on his show to offer praise for GOP presidential candidate Marco Rubio (R-FL) without disclosing Luntz' past ties to Rubio.
During a January 7, appearance on Your World with Neil Cavuto, host Neil Cavuto discussed recent turmoil in the stock market and asked Luntz to respond to how he believed the economy could affect the presidential race. Luntz responded that Marco Rubio would be the best political candidate for the economy claiming that he "is the most optimistic, the most focused on the American dream of any of the candidates" and "what the public needs right now":
FRANK LUNTZ: Marco Rubio is the most optimistic, the most focused on the American dream of any of the candidates, and Rubio's intense passion about making America great again, to use Trump's slogan, it really applies to Marco Rubio because he is the one who talks about how his father and mother came from Cuba with very limited means and now look at what's happened to him. The guy is a United States senator, leading presidential candidate.
Rubio's message is the most optimistic, the most forward thinking of them all and that's what the public needs right now when they have the greatest concern, the greatest anxiety, based on what's happening on the Wall Street and the markets across the globe.
A January 2012 Wall Street Journal article reported that Rubio hired Luntz to assist in writing his "100 Innovative Ideas for Florida's Future," which Cavuto failed to disclose.
This is not the first time news networks have failed to disclose Luntz' ties with Republican politicians when asking him on for political commentary. In June 2014, CBS came under fire from veteran ethicists and observers for failing to disclose Luntz had received more than $15,000 in consulting fees from Rep. Eric Cantor's (R-VA) congressional campaign. In March 2013 on Fox's Fox & Friends Luntz praised his former clients Marco Rubio and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) without disclosing his past work for the politicians, and during an October 2015 appearance on CBS in which Luntz pushed Ryan for the role of Speaker of the House, Luntz and CBS failed to disclose the $100,000 he had received from Ryan since 2012.
CBS News, currently under fire for airing a dubious 60 Minutes report that relied on discredited source Dylan Davies, aired a report on the Affordable Care Act based entirely off selectively leaked partial transcripts from ACA opponent, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA).
On the November 11 edition of CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley, correspondent Sharyl Attkisson reported on supposed "security risks" surrounding the law's exchange website, HealthCare.gov. Host Scott Pelley alleged that the project manager in charge of building the site "was apparently kept in the dark about serious failures in the website's security." Pelley speculated that this could eventually lead to "identity theft among people buying insurance.":
The basis for this report was a "partial transcript" obtained by CBS correspondent Attkisson and provided to her by House Oversight Chairman Rep. Issa.
As MSNBC's Steve Benen pointed out, the CBS report leaves out "pretty much every relevant detail that points in a more accurate direction," most importantly that the supposed security risk relates to a part of the website that won't be active until Spring 2014 and has nothing to do with the parts of the website that are currently in use. The Hill reported:
A Democratic Oversight committee staffer said the security issue relates to a function of the website that isn't currently active and won't be until early next year.
"It's hard to understand why anyone would trust the accuracy of Chairman Issa's press releases when they consistently distort and manipulate the truth," the staffer said. "The chairman's staff basically sandbagged this witness with a document he had never seen before and then failed to inform him that it has nothing to do with parts of the website that launched on Oct. 1."
"Rather than seeking out the truth, this press release tries to scare the public by capitalizing on confusion caused by the chairman's own staff," the staffer added.
Problematic for CBS is that Issa has earned a reputation for leaking misleading and partial transcripts in order to attack the Obama administration. On November 8, ThinkProgress reported Rep. Elijah Cumming's (D-MD) characterization of Issa leaks to the press regarding HealthCare.gov's capacity to handle only 1,100 users as "reckless and highly irresponsible." Cummings concluded that these were "unsubstantiated public allegations" and that Issa was "taking information out of context."
The use of a dubious source with a history of telling partisan falsehoods in order to spread right wing smears is even more troublesome given the context of the terrible week CBS just experienced for using a dishonest source. Following the airing of an October 27 60 Minutes report on Benghazi in which the main source of the report was proven to be unreliable, CBS received widespread criticism , was forced to retract the story, and apologized on air.
CNN and Fox News repeatedly aired Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC)'s threat to hold up presidential nominations unless witnesses to the 2012 Benghazi attacks are made available for questioning. The senator's implication -- that no witnesses have yet been questioned -- went unchallenged until CNN's Wolf Blitzer finally got Graham to admit that survivors of the attacks were in fact questioned by Congress earlier this month.
On October 28, Graham announced that he would block all executive branch nominees until survivors of the 2012 attacks on a U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya have been questioned by Congress. Graham appeared on Fox's Fox & Friends Monday morning, claiming:
GRAHAM: Fourteen months later, the people who survived the attack in Benghazi have not been made available to the U.S. Congress for oversight purposes.
Fox News continued to amplify Graham's rhetoric on Greta van Susteren's On The Record. Van Susteren noted on the October 28 edition of her show that Graham is "threatening to hold up all nominations for federal government positions ... until survivors of the Benghazi attack appear before Congress."
CNN briefly followed suit. The October 29 edition of CNN's New Day featured a report on Graham's threats from John King, who said that Graham "is saying, 'fine, you don't want to send them up to testify, I'm going to block almost every nomination if not every nomination going through the Senate."
But when Graham appeared on CNN's The Situation Room later that day, host Wolf Blitzer finally asked Graham if he was aware of any Benghazi witnesses who had been questioned by Congress. Graham responded, "It's my understanding that the survivors, the State Department personnel who survived the consulate attack, one of that group has been interviewed by the House, and the CIA agents at the annex have not been interviewed by the Intelligence Committee of the House and the Senate."
Fox News' Sean Hannity promised to throw a tea party event for Republican Senator Mike Lee (UT), a founding member of the Tea Party Caucus who was instrumental in the Republican-led government shutdown. Hannity and Fox News have a long history of questionable ethics when it comes to supporting tea party causes and candidates.
Lee was an instrumental player in the effort to shut down the government. Indeed, Time magazine dubbed him "The Man Behind The Shutdown Curtain":
On July 17, three months before Sens. Mitch McConnell and Reid forged a deal to open the government and avert default, Lee welcomed the conservative leaders of national grassroots organizations into his office after-hours to discuss tying government funding to the Obamacare battles. Sens. Cruz, Mike Enzi, Jeff Flake, Jim Inhofe, Ron Johnson, Jim Risch, Marco Rubio, and Pat Toomey were in attendance, as well as representatives of Tea Party Patriots, FreedomWorks, and other conservative groups. The room was "packed," said Jenny Beth Martin, President of Tea Party Patriots. Lee spoke first, led the discussion, and asked for support.
"That was the moment that brought everyone together," said L. Brent Bozell III, the founder of the Media Research Center and a participant in the meeting. Bozell said that every outside group agreed with the strategy, and only one senator openly questioned the shutdown or defund tactic. "Mike Lee is the intellectual powerhouse of this entire movement," added Bozell.
Lee has a natural ally in Hannity. The Fox News host cheered the shutdown strategy, urging Republicans as far back as March to shut down the government over the Affordable Care Act:
HANNITY: Republicans right now, if they really want to -- not just symbolically -- if they want to repeal health care, Dr. [Ben] Carson, Obamacare, they've got to shut the government down and be labeled 'the full faith and credit of the United States is in jeopardy.' Which is not true. But if they really want to do that, that's what it will take. I want them to do it.
On the October 23 edition of his Fox News show, Hannity hosted Lee to discuss the Affordable Care Act and the government shutdown. At the end of the interview, Hannity told Lee, "I promise I'll do everything I can do -- we'll go out to Utah, we'll have a big tea party out there, and we'll remind them why you were elected":
This is not the first instance in which a Fox personality has seemingly crossed the ethical line. In April 2010 Hannity caused a controversy by planning to host his Fox show from a tea party rally in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Los Angeles Times reported:
CBS News political correspondent Jan Crawford claimed that CBS couldn't "find anyone who's enrolled" in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) since the exchanges went online, proving not that Americans haven't signed up for the exchanges, but that CBS did not look very hard for examples.
On the October 16 edition of CBS This Morning, Crawford described the exchanges as a "complete disaster" and quoted from a Miami Herald article describing ACA enrollees as an "urban legend":
Contrary to Crawford's claim, reports of individuals who have successfully signed up for health insurance exchanges are readily available:
In addition, directly in the Miami Herald article Crawford quoted as describing enrollees as an "urban legend," there are several examples of citizens who have successfully signed up for the exchanges:
Florida CHAIN, a statewide consumer health advocacy group, has highlighted the story of Vincent Mutia, a 24-year-old political science student at the University of Central Florida.
Mutia said he tried to enroll on the first day but ran into problems that kept him from shopping the available plans, applying for a subsidy and making a purchase.
"In the last few days,'' Mutia told the Herald on Friday, "the experience became more fluid. I was able to put in all my information. After the security questions, I created an account."
Last week, the Orlando Sentinel reported the story of one man who succeeded in buying a plan -- after starting at 6 a.m. on the day the exchange launched.
Daniel McNaughton, a 22-year-old computer science student at Valencia College in Orlando, told the newspaper he purchased a Florida Blue plan that will cost him $70 a month after the federal subsidy.
Crawford's accusation ignored even her own reporting -- Later in the segment, she claimed that October 15 was the first time White House Press Secretary Jay Carney "managed to identify" individuals who had signed up for the exchanges. Yet Crawford overlooks an October 4 press briefing where Carney identified Alabama's Pittman and Butch Matthews, a small business owner from Arkansas, as successful enrollees:
CARNEY: Joshua Pittman is a 31-year-old, self-employed videographer from Alabama -- a libertarian Republican who voted for Ron Paul in 2012, and believes that Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, is the future of the GOP -- successfully enrolled in a bronze-level Obamacare health insurance plan yesterday.
Butch Matthews is a 61-year-old former small business owner from Little Rock, Arkansas, who used to wake up every morning at 4:00 a.m. to deliver canned beverages to retailers before retiring in 2010. A lifelong Republican, he was heavily skeptical of the Affordable Care Act when it first passed. "I did not think that Obamacare was going to be a good plan. I did not think that it was going to help me at all. I am still a very strong Republican, but this -- I'm so happy that this came along." It saves him $13,000 per year.
Reports of Americans successfully signing up for the exchanges are readily available. In Kentucky alone, 240 small businesses have enrolled in order to provide their staffs with healthcare. MSNBC reported that as of October 12 the state was averaging 1,000 individual enrollees per day. Furthermore, in California 28,000 have signed up, and in New York 40,000 have signed up.
Fox News criticized an upcoming NBC special intended to educate viewers about the Affordable Care Act (ACA) as "propaganda," despite hyping Fox Business' week-long ACA special as a way to educate viewers about the "hideously complicated law."
On September 30, NBC News will begin airing a week-long series titled "Ready or Not, the New Healthcare Law," which NBC described in a press release as a way to "help Americans get the most out of the Affordable Care Act." The announcement comes as the ACA's health insurance exchanges are set to begin operations on October 1, and as significant confusion over the law remains.
On the September 30 edition of Happening Now, host Jon Scott opened a segment on the NBC special by stating: "A major news network accused of crossing the line from objective reporting to cheerleading when it comes to Obamacare." Scott concluded: "If Obamacare does not prove to be very workable, are you going to see that story covered on NBC?":
But while Scott ridiculed NBC's effort to educate their viewers on the Affordable Care Act as "cheerleading," and Fox News' website Fox Nation described the NBC special as "propaganda," hours earlier Fox & Friends praised a week-long special scheduled to air on Fox Business' The Willis Report. Host Elisabeth Hasselbeck opened the segment by praising the special, titled "A User's Guide To Obamacare," saying, "According to the most recent surveys, as many as 51 percent of Americans don't have enough information about the Affordable Care, so each day of this week we're going to help." Hasselbeck added, "Next week it's your week-long series, 'A User's Guide To Obamacare' -- thankfully, because we need it." At the conclusion of the segment, Gerri Willis, the host of the special, described the Affordable Care Act as a "hideously complicated law."
While Fox is accusing NBC of airing "propaganda" even before the special has appeared, Fox News and others in the right-wing media have spent the last three years spreading misinformation and propaganda about the health care law. Fox figures have ramped up the misleading attacks in the weeks leading up to the opening of insurance exchanges, and have also pressured Republican politicians to defund or repeal the law, even at the expense of shutting down the federal government.
Fox News Sunday perpetuated the myth that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was causing a rise in part-time jobs at the expense of full-time jobs, despite evidence that shows that 90% of all jobs created since the passage of the ACA have been full-time.
On the September 29 edition of Fox News Sunday, host Chris Wallace used anecdotal evidence to make the case that the ACA was hurting employment and jobs. Wallace pointed to an Investor's Business Daily study claiming that 313 companies are cutting work hours due to the ACA employer mandate:
But the accusation that the ACA has hurt job full-time job growth has been debunked by economists as well as actual employment data.
In September, Moody Analytics Chief Economist Mark Zandi disagreed that the ACA had hurt full-time employment on a CNBC panel, saying, "I don't see it in the data." Previously, Zandi had debunked this claim in comments to USA Today:
As more data come in, the law's impact can't be seen in hiring statistics, says Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody's Analytics.
"I was expecting to see it. I was looking for it, and it's not there,'' says Zandi, whose firm manages ADP's surveys of overall private-sector job creation. If the Affordable Care Act "were causing a drop, you would see meaningful slowing."
Additionally, Fox News Sunday hosted House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) to discuss the Republican plan to shut down the government unless the demand to delay or defund the ACA was met by the Senate and signed into law by President Obama. During the discussion, McCarthy claimed that "when you look at what has transpired since Obamacare has moved forward, we have created more than 840,000 jobs in this country. More than 90% of them have been part-time because of Obamacare." McCarthy did not offer any citations for his claim, but the reality is different.
In August, the non-partisan fact-checking website Politifact analyzed a claim by Alan Krueger, the chairman of the president's Council of Economic Advisers. Krueger had asserted that "Since the Affordable Care Act passed, 90 percent of job growth has been in full-time positions." Politifact agreed, concluding:
Krueger said that "since the Affordable Care Act passed, 90 percent of job growth has been in full-time positions." The statistics show that 87 percent of the increase in jobs between March 2010 and July 2013 consisted of full-time jobs. A shorter time frame would show the opposite pattern, but on the numbers, Krueger is right. We rate the claim True.