Right-wing pundits jumped to blame "the media" after Mitt Romney was criticized for his statement and remarks following the attacks on the U.S. embassy in Cairo, Egypt, and the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Yet foreign policy experts and even conservative officials and media figures have been critical of Romney's statement and subsequent remarks.
While decrying federal funding of Planned Parenthood, Fox's Bill O'Reilly wished that the women's health organization were privately financed "like Catholic charities" are -- yet federal funding is also a primary revenue source for Catholic charities.
During Fox's The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly told ABC's George Stephanopoulos that he believed the government should defund Planned Parenthood. Rather than receiving taxpayer funds, O'Reilly declared, Planned Parenthood should "be funded like Catholic charities, by individuals who believe in Planned Parenthood's mission." O'Reilly explained that he didn't want his tax money given to organizations with which he has differing views.
O'Reilly didn't pick the best example to back up his claims. Like Planned Parenthood, Catholic charities also receive millions of dollars from the federal government. Under the Obama administration, Catholic religious charities have received more than $650 million in federal funds. And Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA), a nationwide association of Catholic charities, receives over half its revenue from taxpayer money. As The New York Times detailed in December 2011:
Catholic Charities is one of the nation's most extensive social service networks, serving more than 10 million poor adults and children of many faiths across the country. It is made up of local affiliates that answer to local bishops and dioceses, but much of its revenue comes from the government. Catholic Charities affiliates received a total of nearly $2.9 billion a year from the government in 2010, about 62 percent of its annual revenue of $4.67 billion.
Two recent falsehoods from the Mitt Romney campaign have received media attention: the false claim that President Obama removed the work requirement from welfare, and the false claim that the health care reform bill "cuts" $716 billion from Medicare. While many mainstream media outlets debunked the false claims in much of their coverage, several -- particularly Fox News and The Wall Street Journal -- repeatedly failed to debunk the falsehoods.
As the presidential election grows nearer, Rush Limbaugh is reasserting himself as the power center of the Republican Party. The talk-show host implied that his wishes carry greater authority than those of the Republican establishment and casually mentioned that he has been in contact with the Romney campaign.
On his August 21 show, Limbaugh urged Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) to "put the nation" first and come to the "right conclusion" about whether to withdraw from the Missouri Senate race because of his "legitimate rape" remarks. Akin is holding out against a chorus of pleas from top Republicans, including Mitt Romney, to drop out.
Despite Akin's resistance to pressure from Republican officials, Limbaugh guaranteed on his August 22 show that if he had explicitly asked Akin to leave, his voice would have swayed the congressman: "Folks, if I had demanded Akin drop out, he'd be gone."
Limbaugh also hinted that he had been in communication with the Republican presidential candidate, stating that he hasn't spoken to Romney "in weeks."
CNN and NBC Sunday shows allowed Mitt Romney campaign surrogates to claim that the American people aren't interested in seeing more of Romney's tax returns, even as polling shows most Americans think Romney should release more of his returns.
Fox News anchor Martha MacCallum suggested that requests for Mitt Romney to release more of his tax returns are somehow an invasion of his privacy, even as polling shows most Americans think Romney should do so.
Romney continues to deny requests from both sides of the aisle to release more tax returns, asserting that the 2010 return and 2011 estimate he released are sufficient. Today, the Obama campaign offered to stop criticizing Romney for a lack of transparency if he releases five years of tax returns. The Romney camp declined, alleging that the Obama team was trying to distract from "issues that matter to voters."
MacCallum's declaration that Romney's tax returns aren't "anybody's business" echoes a comment Romney made earlier this week on the campaign trail. Romney said, "Given the challenges that America faces -- 23 million people out of work, Iran about to become nuclear, one out of six Americans in poverty -- the fascination with taxes I've paid I find to be very small-minded."
The majority of the country disagrees with MacCallum. Sixty-three percent of Americans believe Romney should release more of his tax returns, according to an August 9 CNN poll. Among independents, that number is even higher, at 67 percent. Similarly, a Gallup poll in July found that 54 percent of adults thought that Romney should release additional returns.
As part of its campaign to stoke fears of widespread voter fraud, Fox is ginning up outrage that voter registration forms have been sent to dead people, dogs, and cats, with the apparent implication that those dogs and cats might vote and alter the outcome of the 2012 election.
The target of Fox's latest attack is the Voter Participation Center (VPC), a nonprofit group that uses mass mailings of voter registration applications in an effort to reach the 24 percent of Americans who are eligible to vote, but not registered. Recently, the center acknowledged that some mailings were addressed to ineligible voters, including deceased citizens and even pets, because of faulty commercial mailing lists.
While this is several steps away from actual voter fraud -- a virtually nonexistent problem in U.S. elections -- Fox News worried that these applications were raising "growing fears on election fraud." On today's broadcast of America Live, host Megyn Kelly claimed:
KELLY: Growing fears on election fraud today, as folks across the country get pre-filled-out voter registration forms. You know where they say, like, here, this is you, Megyn Kelly, this is where you show up to vote. But they don't have your name on it. They have the name of your dead pet. Or dead relative. Or your live pet. Either way, it's problematic. Because your pet -- your pet shouldn't be on there. The documents look official, but it turns out they are not coming from election administrators, but from a nonprofit group, and that's causing some controversy.
Fox's America's Newsroom teased a story about the VPC registration forms by saying that there are "new concerns about voter fraud ahead of the November elections." The subsequent segment was identified as part of Fox News' "Voter Fraud Watch:"
But sending out inaccurately addressed voter registration forms is not voter fraud.
In the days since Mitt Romney chose Paul Ryan as his running mate, Fox News has been gushing over the Wisconsin congressman, calling him a "rock star," a "bold, transformational" pick, and "the future" of the Republican party.
Some of that praise sounded familiar, so Media Matters took a look at Fox's coverage of another Republican vice presidential candidate -- current Fox News contributor Sarah Palin, who was 2008's "rock star" pick and "future of the Republican Party."
Rush Limbaugh continued to praise vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan today, touting Ryan's claim that his Medicare proposal creates a program identical to what members of Congress and federal employees enjoy. Limbaugh even cited a New York Times analysis to try to support the comparison -- but Limbaugh apparently didn't read the analysis, since it actually debunks Ryan's claim.
In a 2011 op-ed in The Wall Street Journal, Paul Ryan wrote that under his Medicare proposal, "new Medicare beneficiaries will be enrolled in the same kind of health-care program that members of Congress enjoy." When a caller on Limbaugh's program today brought up the comparison, the host agreed with Ryan's claim.
Limbaugh then pointed to a New York Times article by economist Uwe Reinhardt, saying: "Now, the New York Times story -- I just had to quick scan it. They try to nit-pick what they say are differences, but it looks pretty much like Ryan's plan is very close to, if not identical, to what Congress has."
Actually, the Times analysis found exactly the opposite: Ryan's proposal and Congress' current plans have a "huge difference."
Fox News continues to attack the Obama administration over welfare reform by claiming that the waiver provision it recently proposed is "illegal" and beyond the scope of President Obama's executive power. In fact, as the Department of Health and Human Services makes clear, there is nothing illegal in the decision; moreover, past presidents have used such authority.