Fox News opened a discussion on potential defense budget cuts with a graph which tracked changes in the United States' defense spending, pushing the distortion that the U.S. is lagging behind China and Russia. But Fox neglected to acknowledge the actual amount these countries expend on defense; in reality, U.S. defense spending is greater than the next 12 top-spending countries combined.
On the February 12 edition of America's Newsroom, host Bill Hemmer displayed a graph comparing the growth in the defense budgets of China, Russia, and the United States from 2007 - 2011. The chart, which assumed that sequester cuts to the U.S.'s defense budget will take effect, projected the change in these countries' defense budgets through 2015.
Hemmer explained that, "We just wanted to give viewers at home an idea about what countries are doing over the past four years and the coming four years from here," and that for the current year on defense spending, "China goes up, Russia goes up, and the U.S. remains flat when compared to these other two countries." In the next four years, Hemmer claimed, "on the percentage they will contribute on their defense budget, China is about 300 percent increase, Russia's not too far behind, [and] the United States is not only flat, but it's trailing now as we move toward the year 2015." The graph segued into a discussion with Fox military analyst Major General Robert Scales on how cuts to the U.S. defense budget will harm our military capacity.
Fox's chart, focused exclusively on growth in defense spending across a specific period of time compared to 2004 budgets, suggests China and Russia are far out-scaling the U.S. on defense spending. But date constraints and percentage change in budgets are meaningless outside the context of actual expenditure. Hemmer conveniently disregarded the actual dollar amount the U.S. spends on defense compared to China and Russia.
The U.S. spends more on defense than the next 12 top-spending countries combined. PolitiFact examined data by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) and the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), both "considered to be leading authorities on worldwide military spending numbers," and determined that, "In 2011 -- the most recent year available -- the United States led the world in military spending at $711 billion ... The next top 12 spending nations accounted for a combined total of $670.9 billion." IISS data discovered that the U.S spends $252.6 billion more on defense than the next top nine nations.
Fox News contributor Byron York suggested that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta's congressional testimony on Benghazi indicated that President Obama failed to order the military to protect Americans under attack. However, Panetta testified that Obama explicitly directed him to take military action to protect American lives.
On Fox's America's Newsroom on Friday, guest host Rick Folbaum aired clips of Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) questioning Panetta during Thursday's hearing about the attack on a U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya. York described Panetta's testimony as confirming that "[a]fter having a prescheduled meeting in the afternoon on that day, Secretary Panetta spoke to [President Obama] no more." York then said, "I think what became clear with Lindsey Graham's questioning about possible military activity is that nobody in the Pentagon would have ordered military action without a specific order from the president. And the president wasn't around."
But Panetta's very testimony refutes York's accusation: Panetta made it clear that Obama ordered Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey and himself to take all necessary action to protect Americans under attack.
Conservative media are pushing selectively cropped footage of Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and General Martin Dempsey as evidence that President Obama was "AWOL" the night of the Benghazi attack. In reality, Panetta and Dempsey emphasized that Obama's involvement was appropriate and that the White House was kept "well-informed" throughout the night.
After outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta testified before Congress on the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, The Weekly Standard selectively cropped a portion of his testimony and blogged that Panetta found Obama to be "absent" the night of the assault. The Weekly Standard's attack on Obama subsequently made the conservative media rounds to Fox Nation, The Drudge Report, The Daily Caller, Breitbart.com, and Fox News.
In its post titled "Panetta: Obama Absent Night of Benghazi," where this smear seemingly originated, The Weekly Standard highlighted Sen. Kelly Ayotte's (R-NH) questions to Panetta as proof of Obama's absence:
AYOTTE: Did you have any further communications with him that night?
AYOTTE: Did you have any further communications - did he ever call you that night to say, "How are things going? What's going on? Where's the consulate?"
PANETTA: No, but we were aware that as we were getting information on what was taking place there, particularly when we got information that the ambassador, his life had been lost - we were aware that that information went to the White House.
AYOTTE: Did you communicate with anyone else at the White House that night?
AYOTTE: No one else called you to say, "How are things going?"
Fox News' Eric Bolling selectively cropped footage of Sen. Dianne Feinstein discussing her proposed ban on assault weapons in an attempt to claim she flip-flopped on gun control.
On The Five, the co-hosts took up the topic of Feinstein's new proposed legislation to ban semi-automatic assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition clips. Bolling aired a one sentence from Feinstein's press conference introducing the assault weapons ban, in which she said, "Our weak gun laws allow these mass killings to be carried out again and again and again in our country." Bolling then claimed, "But the senator wasn't always so anti-gun." The next video showed Feinstein in 1995 testifying before the Senate, in which she explained she once carried a concealed weapon for self-defense after being targeted by terrorists.
Bolling declared that this was "a perfect example of political hypocrisy."
A look at Feinstein's full press conference disproves Bolling's claim. In the portion of her remarks Bolling chose not to air, Feinstein emphasized (at about 5:25 in the video): "[In the bill] we have tried to recognize legal hunting rights. We have tried to recognize legal defense rights. We have tried to recognize the right of a citizen to legally possess a weapon. No weapon is taken from anyone. The purpose is to dry up the supply of these weapons over time.
As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton prepares to testify before Congress about the September 11 attack on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, Media Matters reviews the falsehoods conservative media have pushed regarding Clinton and her response to the attack.
When Dana Loesch appeared on CNN's Piers Morgan Tonight to discuss efforts to strengthen gun laws, Piers Morgan introduced her as a "conservative radio talk-show host," but didn't identify her as a CNN contributor. CNN hired Loesch as a political contributor in early 2011, but has been absent from the network in recent months.
When CNN hired Loesch, it said she would "appear across the network's prime time programs, as well as other dayparts and platforms" as part of election season coverage. But in the summer of 2012, when election season was in full swing, Loesch disappeared from CNN. She was on three times in June, twice in July, and did not appear again until her interview with Piers Morgan on Wednesday, according to a search of the Nexis database.
Without any official announcement, CNN reportedly suspended Loesch soon after she defended U.S. Marines accused of urinating on the dead bodies of Taliban forces, saying, "I'd drop trou and do it too." Her comment was widely condemned, including by CNN journalists. (By coincidence, one of the Marines involved in the incident pleaded guilty at a court-martial on Wednesday.)
In December, Loesch reportedly filed a lawsuit against Breitbart.com claiming that the site refuses to publish her work or allow it to be published elsewhere. Loesch was formerly identified as editor-in-chief of Breitbart's Big Journalism site.
Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace allowed Bill Kristol to attack the nomination of Chuck Hagel as defense secretary without disclosing that Kristol is currently waging a full-scale campaign to oppose the nominee. Wallace further failed to challenge Kristol on his previous support of Hagel until he publicly supported a withdrawal from the Iraq War.
Fox News contributor Bill Kristol has been leading a relentless attack campaign against former Republican senator Chuck Hagel, President Obama's nominee for defense secretary. During television appearances and on his site The Weekly Standard, Kristol is actively encouraging the Senate to block Hagel's nomination. The Emergency Committee for Israel, a political advocacy group Kristol founded, has even launched an anti-Hagel website complete with attack ads.
Yet on Fox News Sunday, host Chris Wallace asked Kristol to opine on Hagel's nomination without any mention of his advocacy to prevent Hagel from becoming defense secretary. After saying Hagel is a "controversial pick for defense secretary," Wallace directed Kristol: "Your comments on Hagel?" Kristol replied, "I don't think Chuck Hagel is the right man to be secretary of defense. We'll see if the United [States] Senate agrees with that." Kristol opposes the nomination on the false grounds that Hagel is hostile to Israel and sympathetic to Iran.
Kristol even interjected Hagel attacks into unrelated conversations.
Fox News continually mocked Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for having to postpone her testimony on the attack in Benghazi, Libya, because of health problems relating to a concussion. Clinton was recently hospitalized due to a blood clot in her head, which ABC News reported was "potentially 'life-threatening.' "
As The Wall Street Journal noted, the New York Post originally editorialized that Clinton's concussion was a "head fake." But after news of the blood clot came to light, the Post, also owned by Fox News parent company News Corp., reversed its tone and declared that "a full recovery is what's important now." Will Fox News follow suit?
Here is a video of Fox News figures ridiculing Clinton's health problems over the past several weeks:
Fox News figures have tried to use an investigative panel's recent report on the Benghazi attack to congratulate their network on its coverage of the attack. But the report actually debunks several incorrect and misleading narratives Fox pushed about Benghazi.
On December 18, the independent Accountability Review Board, which was set up by the State Department to investigate the Benghazi attack, released their findings in a report that "sharply criticized the State Department" for oversights that led to insufficient security at the U.S. compound in Benghazi, as The New York Times reported.
During the December 19 broadcast of On The Record, host Greta Van Susteren asked Fox News contributor Sarah Palin for her thoughts on the report, and Palin answered, in part, "Kudos to Fox News for being the news outlet that stayed on top of this story. Americans deserve these answers." Van Susteren responded that she felt "some level of pride" for Fox's Benghazi coverage, because of "all the sort of heat we took from people, saying that it wasn't a story." She added, "[T]here's been a lot of resistance to my national security colleagues getting this information. So, I do take some pride with them."
Similarly, Fox contributor Kirsten Powers suggested on Special Report that the Benghazi report wasn't even necessary because of the program's coverage of the attack, saying, "Well, it's interesting that that report -- you could have known all that if you'd just watched this show. So, it's sort of funny that they had to do an investigation to figure all of that out."
In fact, the review board's report actually discredits Fox's coverage of the attack.
Days after 20 children and six adults were killed in a school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, Rush Limbaugh used the tragedy in invoking a debunked conspiracy theory alleging the Obama administration launched Operation Fast and Furious in order to pass stricter gun-control legislation.
On Tuesday, Limbaugh rehashed the theory that Fast and Furious, a gun-running operation intended to track drug traffickers, was a nefarious plot to get criminals guns in the hope that the resulting violence would lead to public support for stronger gun-control laws. Limbaugh claimed that the "plan" behind Fast and Furious was to "create a bunch of gun violence with American guns, bought legally and therefore easily, and outrage the American people." He then said, "Let me be blunt. The objective of Fast and Furious was to create the very emotional pitch people experienced after what happened in Newtown on Friday. That is exactly what Fast and Furious was intended to do, was to create that kind of reaction all over the country."
Fast and Furious was a botched operation run by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) that "allowed a gun trafficking ring to buy hundreds of weapons and send them to Mexico as part of an investigative tactic," as The New York Times reported. Unfortunately, officials "eventually lost track of hundreds of weapons," including two that were found near the site where a Border Patrol agent was killed.
Although conservative media pushed the conspiracy theory that the operation was part of an Obama administration plot to push gun control, an independent investigation into Fast and Furious soundly debunked such claims. The Department of Justice's Office of the Inspector General found "no evidence that the agents responsible for the cases had improper motives or were trying to accomplish anything other than dismantling a dangerous firearms trafficking organization." The OIG report specifically noted there was no link between the operation and plans to regulate firearms, stating they found "no evidence that ATF Phoenix initiated the investigation in order to facilitate efforts to obtain long gun legislation."