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.
Fox News' Trace Gallagher cited a poll showing 54 percent of Americans don't like Obamacare as a reason to back the Republican plan to shut down the federal government if the law is not defunded. Gallagher's analysis is at odds with multiple polls cited earlier the same day by his Fox colleague Gregg Jarrett that showed a majority of Americans do not support Republican defunding efforts.
On September 20, House Republicans passed a continuing resolution that would defund the Affordable Care Act (ACA) but continue to fund the government. Senate Republicans have criticized the plan, with Richard Burr of North Carolina describing it as "the dumbest idea I've ever heard of."
On the September 20 edition of Studio B with Shepard Smith, guest host Trace Gallagher said during an interview with The Hill's managing editor, Bob Cusack, "[T]hey're not just a bunch of nutty House members up there voting for this thing. I mean look, 54 percent, the latest polls show 54 percent of Americans are against Obamacare, so the House is at least fighting for the majority of Americans."
But Gallagher ignored polls showing that a majority of Americans oppose the Republican effort to defund Obamacare -- a fact made clear during an earlier Fox News segment. During that segment, Fox News host Gregg Jarrett advised Monica Crowley that he had "looked at three different polls today. They all say the same thing. That is, as unpopular -- and it is -- as Obamacare is, they don't want the government shut down because of a defunding effort."
An August poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 57 percent of Americans disapprove of cutting off funding "as a way to stop the law from being implemented, a finding that has been consistent in Kaiser Health Tracking Polls since January 2011."
[E]ven this push poll that dramatically oversamples Republicans (more on that in a minute) finds respondents are more likely to say that the Affordable Care Act should be kept than scrapped -- and that a plurality would blame Republicans if the government were to shut down.
Only 44.5 percent "oppose the health care law and think it should be repealed," while 52 percent either support the law as is or have some concerns, but say they think implementation should move forward. And asked whom they would blame if "there was an impasse between president Obama and Congress on whether to continue to fund the health care law, and that impasse resulted in a partial government shutdown," the top response (28 percent) was Republicans in Congress. The next option, Obama, got 21 percent of respondents.
Gallagher's dishonest reading of the American public's attitude toward defunding the Affordable Care Act is the latest example of Fox's dishonest characterization of the House vote to defund the law, which FoxNews.com recently described as a vote "to keep government open."
Following a months-long campaign from Fox News to demonize food stamp recipients, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to cut $39 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The cuts would result in nearly 4 million Americans -- mostly elderly, children, and the disabled -- losing or seeing a reduction in their benefits.
While Fox News has denigrated SNAP recipients for years, its campaign came to a head in August when the network aired a misleading special titled, "The Great Food Stamp Binge." Their shoddy report focused on a clownish man named Jason Greenslate, "a blissfully jobless California surfer" who has taken advantage of SNAP benefits.
The special labeled Greenslate "the new face of food stamps," devoting two full segments to the unlikable freeloader while following him along in his day to day activities. But labeling Greenslate a representative of SNAP recipients flies in the face of readily available data, which shows that the fraud and waste rate in the SNAP program is less than 1 percent and that 41 percent of food stamp recipients live "in a household with earnings."
In early September, Politico reported that Fox distributed copies of the special to members of the House in anticipation of the upcoming vote:
[O]ver the August recess, Fox News aired a sympathetic report entitled "The Great Food Stamp Binge" -- videos of which are now being distributed by Fox staff to House members.
POLITICO inquiries to Fox News regarding the videos have gone unanswered since Saturday. But both Republican and Democratic offices confirmed that copies have been dropped off unsolicited in recent days, and the broadcast has already provided colorful fodder in promoting the Cantor package.
In remarks on the House floor, Congressman David Price (D-NC) said that "Fox News is trying to help the Republicans pushing this mean-spirited legislation by focusing on a California surfer who abuses the SNAP system." A September 16 article from Roll Call also detailed Greenslate's role in a memo distributed by House Republican leadership that outlined SNAP talking points:
The surfer, unnamed in a memo Cantor circulated to GOP lawmakers earlier this month, is Jason Greenslate, 29. A Fox News report in August highlighted Greenslate, an unemployed musician perpetually in a cap and sunglasses, buying lobster rolls with $200-a-month benefits and laughing at the idea of a 9-to-5 job.
Conservative bloggers quickly cited Greenslate as a prime example of a flawed government program. But Democrats will counter that Greenslate is atypical of SNAP recipients, and they are expected to highlight more sympathetic beneficiaries.
Fox's effort may well have influenced the House Republicans' vote to cut $40 billion from the SNAP program. As USA Today reported:The bill would cause 3 million people to lose benefits while another 850,000 would see their benefits cut, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office.
President Obama has promised to veto the bill if it passes the U.S. Senate.
Economist Mark Zandi debunked the myth that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has been responsible for a shift away from full-time jobs to part-time work. Zandi's analysis flies in the face of the popular right-wing talking point that the ACA has been responsible for a rise in part-time employment at the expense of full-time jobs.
Fox has consistently ignored data to make the false claim that the ACA has caused a shift from full-time work toward part-time work, often using dishonest anecdotes and analysis from the likes of Karl Rove to make its point.
On CNBC's Squawk Box, Zandi, the chief economist at Moody's Analytics, pushed back on the panel's speculation that the ACA has been responsible for a rise in part-time employment. When asked if Rove was correct in claiming that ACA has led to a rise in part-time employment, Zandi responded with a "no." Zandi later said of the part-time work claim: "I don't see it in the data."
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.
Zandi is joined by other economists in his analysis. Economists Jared Bernstein and Paul Van de Water of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities noted that the share of involuntary part-time workers "is down about one percentage point off of its peak." Helene Jorgensen and Dean Baker of the Center for Economic and Policy Research found that the number of workers working below the 30 hour cutoff in the range of 26-29 hours per week is actually lower in 2013 than in 2012, and concluded: "This suggests that employers do not appear to be changing hours in large numbers in response to the sanctions in the ACA."
The evidence is overwhelming that the Affordable Care Act has had little to no impact on full-time versus part-time job growth, and as Fox News personalities continue to push the myth, they find themselves in direct contradiction with analysis put forth by actual economists.
Rush Limbaugh's ignorance over the civil rights movement was on full display as he claimed that the movement was "about one thing - and that was integration."
On his radio program, Limbaugh attempted to draw distinctions between the 1963 March on Washington and the event's 50th anniversary. Limbaugh claimed he intended to ignore the anniversary celebrations but said "if you want to sum up what's really wrong with all this, Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights coalition of his era was about one thing - and that was integration":
Limbaugh's analysis of the civil rights movement shows a shocking disinterest in the breadth of what the activists of that era were fighting for.
The title of the 1963 march was the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. The final manual for the march included a list of demands which included topics not limited to integration. Topics such as an increase in the minimum wage, a broadened Fair Labor Standards Act, and a federal Fair Employment Practices Act to bar discrimination by employers, both public and private, were listed among the demands of the marchers: