Fox News is trying to downplay the effects of the Republican-led government shutdown by replacing "shutdown" with "slimdown" in Associated Press reports posted on FoxNews.com. The changes have appeared in headlines, a photo caption, and story ledes.
FoxNews.com even replaced "shutdown" with "slimdown" when promoting an original FoxNews.com article that took issue with Fox's use of "slimdown." Fox News host Howard Kurtz wrote in a column that the "Fox News website keeps using the term 'slimdown' instead of shutdown, though no one would claim this was some kind of sensible Weight Watchers method of trimming government spending." Kurtz's column has the headline, "Spin Wars: Is the shutdown about blackmail or ObamaCare?" -- but Fox modified the headline to "KURTZ: Is slimdown about blackmail or ObamaCare?" on its front page.
FoxNews.com's homepage as of 11:20am:
An unbylined FoxNews.com story offered a rationale for using "slimdown," suggesting that "shutdown" is the Obama administration's preferred term but it's "turning out to be more of a 'slimdown,' as all but non-essential workers reported to their jobs Tuesday. The biggest impact is expected to be felt for the 800,000 or so federal workers facing furlough. But hundreds of thousands of other workers are reporting for work, and a patchwork of services remains open to the public as lawmakers and the White House continue to battle over a spending package." In reality, the government shutdown has wide ranging effects on the country.
Fox previously changed Associated Press reports to fit its own style guide regarding "suicide" bombers versus "homicide" bombers. During the Bush administration, Fox News adopted the term "homicide" bombers and bombings after the Bush administration used the term to describe the attacks.
Here are five examples of FoxNews.com changing Associated Press reports and language to replace "shutdown" with "slimdown":
In an apparent reversal, CNN now says that Crossfire co-host Newt Gingrich is not actually violating network standards by failing to disclose his PAC's financial relationship with politicians discussed on the program.
Rick Davis, CNN's Executive Vice President of News Standards and Practices, issued a statement to Media Matters saying the network is "clarifying" its ethics policy, and that Gingrich is "not in violation" of network rules:
We are clarifying the policy and making it clear Newt Gingrich is not in violation. The policy: If a Crossfire co-host has made a financial contribution to a politician who appears on the program or is the focus of the program, disclosure is not required during the show since the co-host's political support is obvious by his or her point of view expressed on the program.
Davis' statement appears to be at odds with earlier comments he had made about the network's guidelines for Gingrich. In an interview with Media Matters earlier this month, Davis said that if Gingrich, who serves as honorary co-chair for the American Legacy PAC, "is helping fund a candidate and that candidate's on the show, or being discussed on the show, of course he'll disclose that. Disclosure is important when it's relevant."
However, as Media Matters reported, Gingrich hosted Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) on the first episode of Crossfire's revival, and discussed Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) on September 24, without disclosing that his PAC had donated to the campaigns of both Republicans.
Gingrich also praised Cruz on CNN outside of Crossfire. Several hours after Media Matters first reported on Gingrich apparently violating network rules, he appeared on the September 25 edition of Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees and again appeared to cross the line. Gingrich said Cruz is "proving to be a pretty clever guy" and "there are an awful lot of Republicans who'd rather at least see someone with the guts to fight than just be told automatically let's surrender." Gingrich and CNN did not mention his PAC's ties to Cruz.
Issues with Gingrich and his PAC aren't limited to CNN disclosure problems. Mother Jones raised significant questions about whether Gingrich is fronting a "dubious PAC" since "most of the money flowing into American Legacy PAC is benefiting vendors and consultants who have long been associated with Gingrich" rather than actual candidates.
Less than a month into his tenure as a new CNN host, Newt Gingrich has already violated the ethical guidelines set for him by the network.
CNN executive Rick Davis previously told Media Matters that if Gingrich, who serves as honorary co-chair for the American Legacy PAC, "is helping fund a candidate and that candidate's on the show, or being discussed on the show, of course he'll disclose that. Disclosure is important when it's relevant." However, Gingrich has violated those standards since his first day of hosting.
As Mother Jones' David Corn and Andy Kroll reported today, Gingrich's PAC recently donated to the campaigns of Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX).
After the donations were made, Gingrich hosted Paul on the first episode of Crossfire's revival -- and discussed Cruz on yesterday's episode -- without disclosing his PAC's donations in either instance.
The rebooted Crossfire debuted September 9 with a discussion about Syria featuring Paul and Sen. Bob Menendez. During the program, Gingrich sided with Paul against military strikes on Syria. A few weeks earlier, on August 20, American Legacy PAC founder and president Mike Murray sent an email to supporters announcing they're "proud to endorse Sen. Rand Paul and provide him with a check for $5,000 to aid in his re-election in 2016!"
During the September 24 edition of Crossfire, Gingrich discussed Cruz's lengthy speech against Obamacare, and complained that the Senate has become "virtually a dictatorial system" and "people like Ted Cruz, they end up giving speeches like this and making noise in the media, in part because they can't get a vote ... If Ted Cruz had come in yesterday and gotten his vote, he'd probably have gotten 12 to 20 to 25 votes." American Legacy sent an email on August 29 announcing they're "proud to announce our endorsement of Sen. Ted Cruz along with a $5,000 donation to his campaign."
In recent weeks, Fox News' conservative hosts and contributors have clashed over the Republican strategy to defund Obamacare by threatening to shut down the government. Some Fox personalities have said the strategy is "the right thing to do" and "anything less is a betrayal" while others have labeled it "fanaticism" and part of a "suicide caucus."
Congressman David Price (D-NC) took to the House floor today to criticize Fox News for "trying to help" Republicans gut nearly $40 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) with misleading reporting.
In August, Fox News aired a special called "The Great Food Stamp Binge," which dishonestly featured Jason Greenslate, an obnoxious California surfer who brags about abusing his SNAP benefits. Fox labeled Greenslate "the new face of food stamps" (in reality, someone like Greenslate is anything but the typical SNAP recipient).
Still, the damage was done. Politico reported that copies of the Fox special were "distributed by Fox staff to House members" prior to the start of the SNAP debate. The Fox special has reportedly been part of Republican messaging about SNAP and been cited by Republican leaders like House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy.
During his House speech today, Price 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. Well, it's time for a reality check. This isn't about surfer dudes." Price explained that cutting SNAP would affect numerous low-income Americans such as veterans who rely on the program for food assistance.
Watch Price's remarks below:
PRICE: Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong opposition to this rule and to the underlying bill. You may have noticed Fox News is trying to help the Republicans pushing this mean-spirited legislation by focusing on a California surfer who abuses the SNAP system. Well, it's time for a reality check. This isn't about surfer dudes.
But I tell you one group it is about: our nation's veterans. 50,000 of them to be exact. Let me clarify. These veterans, with an average income of $2,500, would lose benefits immediately. And as the bill's other provisions kick in, as many as 170,000 veterans could lose their SNAP assistance. In Cumberland County, North Carolina, home of Fort Bragg and of thousands of veterans, our unemployment rate is nearly 11 percent. This bill requires states to terminate the already minimal food aid available to able-bodied but unemployed individuals living in such high unemployment areas. And by the way, Republicans would also subject these veterans to the added indignity of a drug test. I urge a no vote on this rule and on the underlying bill. It dishonors our poorest veterans, it disparages those the Gospel of Matthew calls "the least of these." I yield back my time.
Retired Admiral Mike Mullen and former Ambassador Thomas Pickering today debunked the conservative media myth that the Obama administration failed to deploy adequate military resources to Benghazi, Libya, in response to the September 11, 2012, attack on a U.S. diplomatic mission. Mullen told members of Congress that the "military did everything they possibly could that night." Pickering agreed, testifying that the military is not always "positioned to come in short notice to deal with those issues."
Mullen and Pickering led the State Department Accountability Review Board (ARB), which issued an independent report in December about the attacks. Both men are testifying today at a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing led by Republican Rep. Darrell Issa, who, along with members of the conservative media, have attempted to politicize the attacks to criticize the Obama administration.
During his questioning time, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) noted that Republicans have suggested the Obama administration "withheld assistance on the night of the attacks for political reasons." As Media Matters has documented, conservative media -- led by Fox News -- have echoed Republicans in persistently using this line of attack when criticizing the Obama administration over Benghazi.
Mullen, who served as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 2007-2011, debunked the myth, stating that the "military did everything they possibly could that night. They just couldn't get there in time." Mullen also detailed the "many forces that moved that night" and said a military response "is not something you can just wish to happen instantly. There's a lot of planning, preparation" to "do it as rapidly as one can do it." From his testimony:
When Howard Kurtz joined Fox News as a host and media analyst, he claimed he'd bring to the network an "independent brand of media criticism" with "the freedom to criticize anyone," including his new employer. But a Media Matters analysis of Kurtz's television appearances and online columns during his first two months on the job finds that Kurtz has almost entirely avoided criticizing Fox News, ignoring controversies related to the network that have been widely covered elsewhere. Kurtz even misrepresented his own work, suggesting he had debunked a Fox host's falsehood after that host apologized when Kurtz had actually uncritically promoted it.
Fox News announced in June that the veteran media reporter would join the network on July 1. Kurtz's new weekend media program, MediaBuzz, will debut on September 8 and "focus on the state of the news media in addition to the media's shaping of current events and their role in politics." The show replaces Fox News Watch, a program ridiculed for its conservative slant and habit of turning a blind eye to controversies involving Fox News.
Kurtz made 20 appearances on Fox News, Fox Broadcasting, and Fox Business between his hiring and the release of this report. During these appearances, Kurtz only directly criticized Fox News once -- a tepid reproach about Fox and other networks re-airing Miley Cyrus' performance at MTV's Video Music Awards
Kurtz has also almost entirely avoided criticizing Fox and its personalities in the 17 columns he has written so far for FoxNews.com under the "Media Buzz" masthead.
There have been ample opportunities for such criticism. Kurtz has ignored several media stories related to Fox News that have been widely covered elsewhere, defying the statement he made while working for CNN that he "always" covers controversies related to his employer, and failing to do so signals "a double standard" to viewers that "can undermine your credibility."
While working for CNN, The Washington Post, and The Daily Beast, Kurtz has at times been critical of Fox News and its employees, including several instances where he cited Media Matters. But in his first few months at Fox News, Kurtz seemed more focused on pleasing his new colleagues than being an "independent" media analyst. With the debut of his new program, Kurtz has a chance to prove his independence -- or be just another part of Fox's "defend the family" atmosphere.
Days before the re-launch of CNN's Crossfire, Newt Gingrich said in an interview with fellow Crossfire host S.E. Cupp that he won't rule out running for president again in 2016. When asked if he would "run again in the future," Gingrich replied: "I don't know. We still have a substantial campaign debt. If we can pay it off we would seriously look [at] a 2016 run."
Gingrich has been asked at various times if he would consider running for president in 2016, and said, "It's not a no," "I don't rule it out, but we're not spending any energy on it," "I have no idea at this stage," "It's certainly something that we're going to keep our powder dry and see how the next two years evolve," "I doubt that, but one never knows." In June, National Review Online quoted a Gingrich "insider" claiming of a potential Gingrich bid: "There's no planning or anything like that. But these are people who are big fans of his, so a lot of them want to see him run in 2016."
Gingrich used his prior Fox News employment as a springboard to rehab himself with Republican voters, and position himself for a longshot bid for the Republican nomination. The New York Times noted that "Gingrich's myriad appearances on Fox News over the years have been a central part of the rebirth of his political career. The television exposure, his aides believe, has allowed him to reintroduce himself to older Republicans and to introduce himself for the first time to a generation of voters who do not remember his rise nearly two decades ago." Gingrich's Fox News contract was eventually suspended as he signaled his intention to form an exploratory committee, and then terminated all together. Then-CNN media critic Howard Kurtz -- now with Fox -- wrote in The Daily Beast that Fox was allowing Republicans to "utilize the platform of the country's top-rated cable news channel, and pad their bank accounts to boot."
If Gingrich wants to bolster a president bid via Crossfire, he already has a model (though ultimately unsuccessful) in former host Pat Buchanan. As CNN noted when covering the legal and media issues surrounding Gingrich's dual roles as potential candidate and Fox employee, "CNN faced similar circumstances in the 1990s with Crossfire co-host Pat Buchanan when he ran for the Republican Presidential nomination. CNN ended Buchanan's duties on the show once it was clear that he was seriously considering a presidential bid."
During a segment about the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, Fox News hosted Jesse Jackson and introduced him as "one of our nation's most influential civil rights leaders. He was there with Dr. [Martin Luther] King for the 'I Have a Dream' speech ... a civil rights leader, as you all know." Fox News contributor Katie Pavlich tweeted a minute later: "Can we please stop calling Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton 'civil rights leaders'? Thanks."
Here's Jackson's introduction by Happening Now co-host Jamie Colby, which aired at 12:08pm ET:
Here's Pavlich's tweet -- apparently in response to the Fox News segment (or an amazing coincidence) -- at 12:09pm:
While Fox News has been critical of Jackson and Sharpton, who similarly has a long civil rights background, the network has also correctly referred to them both as a civil rights leaders online and on-air.
As Colby noted during her interview, Jackson participated in the March on Washington on August 28, 1963. Jackson was also a top aide to Martin Luther King Jr. and was with King when he was assassinated in 1968. Jackson's daughter, Santita Jackson, is a Fox News contributor.
Fox News is using its firing of former executive vice president Brian Lewis as an opportunity to again attack a forthcoming biography by New York writer Gabriel Sherman of chairman and CEO Roger Ailes.
The network is attempting to minimize Lewis' importance at Fox while claiming that he is a key Sherman source. But numerous media journalists have reported, contra Fox's current statements, that Lewis was an important and senior figure at the network, claims that are buttressed by Fox's previous comments about the fired executive.
Fox confirmed on August 20 that Lewis, who had been with Fox since its founding in 1996, had been fired, citing "issues relating to financial irregularities, as well as for multiple, material and significant breaches of his employment contract." In a piece responding to the firing headlined, "Roger Ailes Fired His PR Chief, and Now He's All Alone," Sherman wrote that Lewis' departure is important because the executive was "a moderating influence on Ailes. Lewis was one of the few senior executives who would vocally challenge Ailes (although he was smart enough to do it privately)." Lewis today gave a statement to TVNewser about his firing.
In response to media reports about Lewis' stature at Fox, an anonymous "senior Fox executive told [Mediaite] that Lewis was not anywhere near being Ailes' number-two" and that "Lewis and Gabriel Sherman are the only two who believe that Lewis was actually the right-hand man to Roger Ailes." The anonymous Fox executive used these claims in an attempt to undermine Sherman's forthcoming Ailes biography, with Mediaite reporting: "According to the source, Sherman got much of his information by talking to Lewis. 'If Gabe Sherman's book comes from the mind of Brian Lewis, it'll be fiction,' the source asserted."
The senior Fox executive's preemptive strike against Sherman's yet-to-be-published unauthorized Ailes biography is just the latest salvo by Fox News: