Fox News dismissed criticism of 2016 presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee's sham product endorsements, suggesting he was merely following in the footsteps of Ronald Reagan, who appeared in product advertisements during his acting days.
Huckabee, a former Fox News host, has a history of peddling sham-medical cures, conspiracy theories, and financial fraudsters in rented space on his Fox-promoted email list. The GOP contender even promoted a "kitchen-cabinet cure" for diabetes in a recent online ad, a shady product The New York Times described as a "dubious diabetes treatment."
Fox & Friends host Brian Kilmeade jumped to defend Huckabee's product endorsements on May 11, one day after CBS' Bob Schieffer confronted the candidate about his "diabetes cure" hucksterism. Kilmeade compared Huckabee to former President Reagan, arguing that like Huckabee, Reagan "advertised for a few products in between becoming governor and president and when he was an actor":
KILMEADE: I like to add to this, just to give you color on the Huckabee situation. He was asked a question about some of the products he endorsed, including one for diabetes when he was in between being governor, when he was at Fox, and when he was in between running for president, which is now. I thought he gave a pretty good answer for that. He says I'm not embarrassed to say if something could help you with diabetes, I'm going to support it. Plus you're in the free market. I believe there's guys like Ronald Reagan who advertised for a few products in between becoming governor and president and when he was an actor.
While a Fox News employee, Huckabee profited from renting his MikeHuckabee.com email list to a wide range of shady characters, including a medical quack claiming he knew Alzheimer's disease cures; a for-sale stock pundit that was fired from Fox; a financial firm that was fined by the government for engaging in "deliberate fraud"; and a survival food company that profits off of readers' fears of being "herded into FEMA camps." Fox News helped grow his email list, and in turn, Huckabee used his eponymous program to bolster his own political ambitions, even announcing he was considering a presidential run on his final broadcast.
Right-wing media has a long history of serving as Sen. Ted Cruz's (R-TX) biggest cheerleaders, dating back to Cruz's 2012 Senate victory which he credited to Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, and Glenn Beck, showcasing the influence of conservative media in shaping election outcomes.
Following Cruz's announced bid for the 2016 GOP nomination for president, Media Matters looks back at some of right-wing media's most effusive praise of Cruz.
After Cruz announced his candidacy, Hannity featured the senator in an hour-long special on the March 23 of edition his Fox News show. Hannity highlighted Cruz's campaign announcement speech, and allowed Cruz to promote his platform.
Hannity has fantasized about a Cruz campaign for years before the official campaign launch. During Cruz's February 26 speech at the 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), Hannity jumped on the main stage to proclaim that with Cruz, "we can fundamentally transform America" in 2016.
After Cruz announced the launch of his campaign, Rush Limbaugh praised Cruz, suggesting that he "might be the smartest man in Congress."
In July 2014, Rush predicted that if Ted Cruz continued his rise in "dominant influence," he would lead a nascent Republican "revival" that is "just awaiting leadership."
In September 2013, Limbaugh lashed out at Fox News' Brit Hume for alleging that Cruz was influenced by Limbaugh and other conservative media in his repeated efforts to defund Obama's health care law. Limbaugh defended Cruz, asserting that "Ted Cruz isn't afraid of anybody," and went on to praise the Republican senator, saying "Ted Cruz is fighting for freedom in the greatest tradition of American freedom fighters." Limbaugh added that in his efforts to defund the health care law, "Ted Cruz is attempting to  marshal the support of the American people ... in the greatest traditions of the American founding and the existence of the country."
Beck praised Ted Cruz after the launch of his campaign, championing Cruz's "long, long, impressive resume," saying "you can't pigeonhole him as stupid," adding "I can't wait to see him in a debate."
On his radio show in December 2013, Beck likened Cruz to Ronald Reagan saying, he "may be our Ronald Reagan because that guy does not take prisoners. That guy is a thousand times smarter than 99 percent of the politicians I have ever met."
After Cruz announced his candidacy, Laura Ingraham applauded him for "stand[ing] firm for the constitution," and claimed Cruz will be tough competition for Republicans because he represents "more of a traditionalist point of view" and a more "Reagan-esque" form of conservatism.
Levin railed against Fox News for "trashing" Ted Cruz after the senator launched his campaign, likening Cruz to Reagan, and asserting that like Cruz, Reagan would have been "trashed all over" Fox News.
In August 2013, Levin declared Cruz "one of the bright lights of the Republican Party" for "exciting the base" after he "demonstrated that he can beat the establishment as he did" during his 2012 Senate campaign. Levin defended Cruz from a "vicious, vile, poisonous attack by the establishment including Bush staffers."
In June 2014, Hugh Hewitt proclaimed that Cruz "may be the smartest senator," telling Joe Scarborough on his radio program, "he's just not gonna back down and we need some of that in our party." Hewitt went on to compare Cruz to Reagan, saying he has "the same demeanor" as Reagan, "the same kind of charisma, easy affability and smart, smart, smart."
Cable news networks spent just 12 minutes covering the revelation that Jeb Bush waited seven years to comply with a Florida law requiring him to turn over his private email correspondence, while the same networks devoted hours to reports about Hillary Clinton's use of private email when she served as secretary of state.
Media outlets are holding former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to a higher standard by scandalizing her use of personal email while at the State Department, claiming the practice raises questions about her "transparency." In reality, other public officials -- including former Florida Governor Jeb Bush (R), who is attacking Clinton over the emails, and former Secretary of State Colin Powell -- have exclusively used personal email.
The Hill legitimized Republican claims that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) needs to delay its vote on net neutrality to give the public time to review the idea, ignoring the fact that the agency received nearly 4 million comments -- which overwhelmingly favored net neutrality -- during an open-comment period in 2014.
Fox News' Gretchen Carlson distorted President Obama's explanation that U.S. ground troops are not necessary to defeat the Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) in order to claim Obama believes it's not in our national interest to defeat the terrorist group.
In his February 11 request to Congress for an authorization for the use of military force against ISIS, Obama stated that "our core objective is to destroy ISIL." He emphasized his opposition to engaging in "another prolonged ground war in the Middle East," which he said is "not in our national security interest." He explained further that a ground campaign is "not necessary for us to defeat ISIL." From a transcript of his remarks (emphasis added):
THE PRESIDENT: This resolution reflects our core objective to destroy ISIL. It supports the comprehensive strategy that we have been pursuing with our allies and partners: A systemic and sustained campaign of airstrikes against ISIL in Iraq and Syria. Support and training for local forces on the ground, including the moderate Syrian opposition. Preventing ISIL attacks, in the region and beyond, including by foreign terrorist fighters who try to threaten our countries. Regional and international support for an inclusive Iraqi government that unites the Iraqi people and strengthens Iraqi forces against ISIL. Humanitarian assistance for the innocent civilians of Iraq and Syria, who are suffering so terribly under ISIL's reign of horror.
The resolution we've submitted today does not call for the deployment of U.S. ground combat forces to Iraq or Syria. It is not the authorization of another ground war, like Afghanistan or Iraq. The 2,600 American troops in Iraq today largely serve on bases -- and, yes, they face the risks that come with service in any dangerous environment. But they do not have a combat mission. They are focused on training Iraqi forces, including Kurdish forces.
As I've said before, I'm convinced that the United States should not get dragged back into another prolonged ground war in the Middle East. That's not in our national security interest and it's not necessary for us to defeat ISIL. Local forces on the ground who know their countries best are best positioned to take the ground fight to ISIL -- and that's what they're doing.
But Fox viewers heard a much different description of Obama's sentiment the next day on The Real Story with Gretchen Carlson. According to Carlson, "The president said we have no national security interest in this fight." After airing a short video depicting a portion of his remarks (but omitting Obama's statement about destroying ISIS), Carlson asked Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham (SC), "What did President Obama mean yesterday when he said that it's not in our interest to defeat ISIL? Huh?"
Playing word games with Obama's remarks is one of Fox News' favorite pastimes. The network often feigns outrage over distorted or selectively cropped comments, setting up easy attacks on their fictionalized version of the president.
ABC News contributor Laura Ingraham scoffed at the "Like A Girl" Super Bowl commercial promoting girls' self-esteem, calling its empowerment message "a non-issue" written by the "PC police."
During Super Bowl XLIX, Always aired its "Like A Girl" commercial, intended to "reclaim a phrase that's been used to police gender roles and stereotypes that are harmful." In the commercial, adults, young boys, and young girls are asked to demonstrate "what it looks like to run like a girl" or "throw like a girl." While adults and young boys treated the phrase as a pejorative, flailing about and acting weak, young girls responded in earnest, saying to "run like a girl" means to "run as fast as you can."
The next day on her radio program, Laura Ingraham mocked the ad's message, and in the process demonstrated the very bias the ad meant to expose. Ingraham bragged, "I was a tomboy growing up. No one ever said I threw like a girl ... Maybe I just don't have empathy."
Dismissing the ad's empowerment message, Ingraham stated, "This is PC police," and went on to suggest that girls' self-esteem is a "non-issue":
INGRAHAM: It's such a non-issue. First of all, boys are the ones who need more help in school these days. Boys are the ones who are falling behind girls. Boys are the ones who are seeing their sports programs cut because of Title IX because we have to have everything balanced. Boys are the ones who need additional help today. So, 'throw like a girl,' 'kick like a boy,' I mean, 'do pull-ups like a girl,' 'do pull-ups like a boy.' Honestly.
CNN contributor Newt Gingrich revived a debunked claim about Boko Haram's designation as a terror group in order to attack former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Speaking to attendees at the Iowa Freedom Summit in Des Moines, Gingrich claimed that the Obama administration, currently and during Clinton's tenure at the State Department, is not doing enough to confront terrorism threats. As evidence, Gingrich pointed to Boko Haram, a militant Islamist group based in Nigeria, saying, "Boko Haram has ten thousand fighters, and last year Boko Haram killed more people than Ebola. But the State Department for years, under Secretary Clinton, wouldn't even list them as a terrorist group."
The implicit argument of Gingrich's attack is dishonest -- experts, including a former U.S. ambassador to Nigeria appointed by President Bush, opposed designating Boko Haram a terror group out of concern it would empower the extremist group. Instead, in 2012 the State Department under Clinton designated the individual leaders of Boko Haram as "foreign terrorists." Reuters reported that the move was historic, noting it was the "first time [State] has blacklisted members of the Islamist group." Boko Harm went on to receive designation as a terrorist group in 2013.
Gingrich's smear was right out of the conservative media playbook. Fox News and other right-wing outlets spent considerable time suggesting Clinton and the Obama administration tried to appease Boko Haram, even suggesting the administration was partially responsible for the failure to save 300 young girls kidnapped by Boko Haram in 2014.
Rush Limbaugh complained that low gasoline prices are a sure sign the U.S. economy is "in the tank," a stark turnaround for a radio host who previously told listeners that high gas prices were part of President Obama's plan to inflict "economic suffering" on the American people.
Limbaugh opened the January 20 edition of his radio program by purporting to let listeners in on the "dirty little secret" behind these low oil prices -- a struggling economy. Limbaugh charged, "One of the leading, or primary, reasons why the price of oil is down, and gasoline, is demand. Demand is down. And the demand is down because the U.S. economy's in the tank." The reason "you won't find very many experts acknowledge this," he went on, is "because it contradicts the idea that the economy is roaring back."
Limbaugh's theories stand in stark contrast to those he offers when gas prices are high. He's spent years accusing President Obama of desiring high gas prices in order to hurt the economy and Republican voters, pushing for high prices to be a central economic criticism of Obama's first term.
Before the 2012 election, Limbaugh theorized that Obama wanted high gasoline specifically to cause economic suffering (emphasis added):
LIMBAUGH: I'm just telling you the bottom line: Rising gas prices, that's [Obama's] plan. Economic suffering is the plan. Old Chester's got too many cars: Two. He doesn't deserve them. He's not entitled to that many cars. It doesn't matter if he works hard and got the money to pay for them himself. It's not fair. He shouldn't have that many cars. Nobody "needs" that many cars. Particularly when there are people that only have one. Or, in some cases, don't have any. It's just not right.
In 2011, he speculated that media were ignoring rising gas prices to protect Obama from criticism over the economy in the run up to his reelection, asking, "Will the media ignoring the rise in gas prices be able to keep that from becoming a major factor in people's minds over the economy and Obama's role in it?" He applauded those who did report on rising prices:
LIMBAUGH: Another very, very, very, very, very, very worried about rising gasoline prices now, Washington Post and New York Times, I think on Sunday both had stories, "Uh-oh, no, rising gas prices, could it possibly be damaging to Obama's campaign?" New York Times, Washington Post both concerned about rising gasoline prices. Do you realize gasoline prices have never been higher at this time of year than they are right now?
The price of gasoline's up 90% since when Obama took office, folks. They're right to be concerned about it.
As far back as 2008, Limbaugh lamented that high gasoline prices "hurt primarily Republican, middle-class, suburban voters," and accused Democrats of reveling in higher prices to hurt GOP supporters:
LIMBAUGH: May I take you back to last week, where I postulated the theory that one of the reasons that these high gasoline prices are found attractive by the left is who they hurt?
They hurt primarily Republican, middle-class, suburban voters. If you look at a map of the country and the red and blue versions, versus who lives where and how they voted, you find that most large Democrat cities already have some type of mass transit.
Limbaugh's hypocrisy on gasoline prices is shared by his conservative media colleagues. Fox News spent years blaming Obama for high gas prices only to respond to falling gas prices in 2012 by asking if the drop was bad for the country. As recently as October, the network was busy speculating that low gas may hurt the economy.
Fox News has ever-shifting standards for how the Obama administration should respond to terrorist attacks -- a strategic moving of the goalposts that was clearly on display during the network's coverage of the deadly Paris shooting.
On January 7, three gunmen opened fire at the office of the satirical weekly paper Charlie Hebdo, an attack that left 12 dead and 11 others wounded. That morning, White House press secretary Josh Earnest told CNN that based on the information the White House had at the time, the attack "does seem like" terrorism and that it "would condemn that in the strongest possible terms" if it were confirmed. Merely 30 minutes later, Earnest appeared on Fox News and declared, "This is an act of terror," a designation echoed by President Obama from the Oval Office. Obama expressed his "deepest sympathies to the people of Paris and the people of France for the terrible terrorist attack that took place earlier today," condemned the actions of "these terrorists [who] fear freedom," and noted the United States' cooperation with France on counterterrorism.
But to Fox News, describing the attack as terrorism wasn't enough. The network spent the day of the attack in Paris moving the goalposts for how the administration should have responded to the shooting.
Fox initially attempted to portray the change in the White House's characterization as scandalous. During Earnest's appearance on America's Newsroom, anchor Bill Hemmer took issue with the fact that Earnest used the term "act of terror" when earlier he'd used the phrase "act of violence." Hemmer repeatedly insisted that Earnest justify the change:
The demand soon grew. Claiming that it's insufficient to call the attack terrorism, Fox figures argued the White House "has to say 'Islamist terror.'" According to these personalities, the failure to say "Islamic," coupled with the White House's "reluctan[ce]" to say terrorism, evidences Obama's soft approach to fighting terrorism.
Moving the goalposts on the proper response to terrorism is a standard chapter in the Fox News playbook. The network obsessively claimed Obama failed to label the 2012 Benghazi attacks an act of terror, despite the fact that he did so from the Rose Garden the day after the attacks. When a gunman opened fire at Canada's War Memorial in October, Fox criticized Obama for refusing to acknowledge the attack was terrorism (despite the fact that he had). And after the Pakistani Taliban attacked a school in Peshawar, Pakistan, in December, Obama condemned the terrorists, but Fox wondered why he failed to mention "the Taliban" by name.