Fox's Andrew Napolitano mischaracterized the the Affordable Care Act's contraception mandate, pretending the law would force employers to provide insurance coverage for abortion.
On Fox's America's News HQ, network senior judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano hyped a legal challenge to the ACA by Notre Dame University, which refiled a lawsuit this week contesting the law's birth control mandate. Napolitano claimed the suit is "based upon Obamacare's imposition of an obligation on Notre Dame -- full disclosure, I'm an alumnus of Notre Dame -- which forces it to acquire health insurance which provides coverage for contraception and abortion, both of which violate Catholic core teaching."
Notwithstanding Napolitano's incorrect characterization, the ACA does not require employers to pay for insurance covering abortions. Instead, it requires states to provide at least one health plan that does not cover abortion in order to accommodate employers whose religious beliefs conflict with providing abortion coverage:
Book review magazine Kirkus Reviews praised The Benghazi Hoax as a "strong defense of the Democratic response" to right-wing myths about the attack on the diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya.
In a review of The Benghazi Hoax, an e-book authored by Media Matters' David Brock and Ari Rabin-Havt that details the right-wing media's attempt to turn a tragic attack into a political scandal, Kirkus Reviews praised the e-book's response to conservative misinformation about Benghazi:
Beyond these facts, so much remains up for grabs, with conservatives claiming that the compound should have been better protected and should have received reinforcements, that President Barack Obama is soft on terrorism and tried to shift blame, and that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has lied about her role and responsibility in the tragedy. To the contrary, asserts Media Matters for America founder Brock (The Republican Noise Machine: Right-Wing Media and How It Corrupts Democracy, 2004, etc.) in this strong defense of the Democratic response, a conspiracy of conservative lies has kept this controversy alive, primarily through the Fox News talking heads and other "hoaxsters," including Mitt Romney and senators John McCain, Lindsay Graham and Kelly Ayotte. They have progressed from the scapegoating of Obama to an attempt to derail Clinton's campaign as the front-runner to be nominated as his successor. "The reality is that there are two Benghazis," writes the author, one in which "the most basic facts would get twisted, contorted, even invented out of thin air to create bogus narratives" by "a Republican noise machine."
For more on conservative media myths about the September 2012 attack, read The Benghazi Hoax, the new e-book by Media Matters' David Brock and Ari Rabin-Havt.
After Rush Limbaugh compared recently enacted filibuster reform to a vote "allow[ing] women to be raped," a spokesman defended the host by saying, "Limbaugh has spent 25 years illustrating absurdity by using extrapolated analogies." Indeed, Limbaugh has a long history of making outrageous, offensive comparisons and invoking rape when discussing politics.
Sean Hannity called the Senate's passage of filibuster reform a "lawless maneuver" despite having supported it in 2005 under Republican President George W. Bush.
After the Senate voted to change the rules on judicial nominees to allow confirmation with a simple majority vote, Hannity called the move a "lawless maneuver," saying "Democrats break the rules":
But in 2005, under a Republican president and Republican-controlled Congress, Hannity called judicial nominations one of the "specific instances in the Constitution where they call for a supermajority," arguing that it was "unconstitutional to filibuster":
HANNITY: Senator [John McCain], one last question before we let you go here.
There are seven specific instances in the Constitution where they call for a supermajority. I believe it's unconstitutional to filibuster. It is not about advice and consent now to ask for a supermajority on judicial nominations. I believe that is not constitutional.
There's been a lot of talk about what we describe as the "constitutional option," which is that the Republicans would unite and vote, and there would be an up-or-down vote on all of the judicial nominations. Do you think that's the right thing to do? Will you support [then-Senate Majority Leader] Senator [Bill] Frist if he does it?
As Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid pointed out, of the 168 filibusters of executive and judicial nominations that have occurred in the history of the U.S. Senate, half have occurred during the Obama administration.
Fox News' Bill O'Reilly distorted a provision of the Affordable Care Act known as risk corridors, falsely claiming the law subsidizes insurance companies if they don't make a profit under the new health care system.
On the November 19 edition of Fox's The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly hosted Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) to discuss Rubio's Wall Street Journal op-ed in which he described risk corridors as a "bailout for Obamacare." During the segment, O'Reilly adopted Rubio's attack, claiming that "one of the little-known parts of Obamacare is an option for the feds to reimburse private health insurance companies if they are not making enough money under the affordable health care law. In effect, the feds would subsidize private insurance companies if they don't make profit from Obamacare." Rubio described the provision by claiming "any shortfalls that may happen as a result of the law, that they are going to come in and make up for it. And according to the rule the way they've written it, it could be any amount":
But risk corridors are not a bailout. The provision is a way of stabilizing the insurance market by protecting insurers who cover higher-risk individuals by transferring costs from insurance plans that cover healthier people. A Health Affairs policy brief explained that risk corridors are "particularly useful in a period of transition, such as is likely to be the case in 2014 when many sicker people and those with preexisting health conditions will be buying coverage through insurance exchanges for the first time":
Fox's Megyn Kelly misrepresented a recent Justice Department memo to make it appear as though employer-provided health plans would be forced to change under the Affordable Care Act. But group plans that existed before the passage of the law remain unaffected unless insurers and employers choose to substantially alter them.
The Affordable Care Act exempted insurance plans that existed before March 23, 2010 from many of its regulations, allowing insurers to continue offering those plans on the condition that they did not significantly change either the benefits offered or the overall cost. Those policies are known as "grandfathered plans."
On the November 18 edition of Fox News' The Kelly File, host Megyn Kelly highlighted language from an October 2013 Department of Justice brief which estimated that most plans would lose their grandfathered status over time. Kelly claimed the memo contradicted President Obama's assertion that the vast majority of insurance cancellations were in the individual market, as opposed to employer provided plans. Kelly hosted Andrew McCarthy who used the brief to call the ACA "a massive fraudulent scheme" in a National Review Online post. During the segment, McCarthy claimed the brief predicted that consumers in the group market would "lose their coverage."
But the brief does not say that people who are insured in group plans, such as employer-sponsored insurance, will lose their coverage. Rather, it points out that group health plans could merely lose grandfather status if they're changed. As the Kaiser Family Foundation explained in their 2012 Employer Benefits Survey, under the ACA insurance plans do not lose grandfathered status unless the insurer makes "significant changes that reduce benefits or employee costs." In fact, according to the Kaiser survey, the primary reason firms chose not to grandfather a health plan was to maintain flexibility in making future plan choices.
After attacking Obamacare by highlighting easily debunked personal anectodes, Fox hosted another guest who falsely claimed the health care law would harm him personally without checking to make sure his story was accurate.
In a November 14 Salon post, former senior counsel to Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D-MT), Eric Stern wrote about a conversation he had with Bill Lawrence, a man featured on Fox's The Kelly File after writing a letter to Fox News explaining that he and his partners "had to sell our company because we couldn't afford the almost $400,000 in either penalties and fines or insurance premiums that we would have to pay as a result of ObamaCare." In the uncritical interview, host Megyn Kelly responded to Lawrence by asking his "thoughts on having your livelihood directly affected based on what politicians in Washington felt was best for you."
Stern contacted Lawrence after the segment aired and Lawrence admitted that he had sold his Texas-area car wash for multiple reasons, many of which had nothing to do with the ACA:
Rush Limbaugh highlighted a series of ads produced by private Colorado nonprofits that promote the contraception provisions of the Affordable Care Act to revive attacks on Sandra Fluke, the law student and reproductive choice advocate that he labeled a "slut."
Nonprofit organizations ProgressNow Colorado and the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative released a series of ads encouraging Colorado residents to apply for insurance through the state's health insurance exchanges. The ads included messages that highlighted increased access to contraception through insurance coverage. The Denver Post reported that the ads were targeted at young people and have ignited controversy:
In one of the most discussed "Got insurance?" ads, produced by the liberal ProgressNow Colorado and the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative, a young woman holds a packet of birth-control pills and stands next to a young man, his hand wrapped around her waist.
So what's she thinking?
"OMG, he's hot! Let's hope he's as easy to get as this birth control. My health insurance covers the pill, which means all I have to worry about is getting him between the covers," read the words in the risqué advertisement.
While the groups say the aim is to encourage young people to enroll in the state's new health insurance exchange -- a pillar to President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act -- some have said it belittles women. It also adds to the partisan back-and-forth over the new health care law.
Limbaugh used the ads to recall Sandra Fluke, a Georgetown University law student who testified before congress about reproductive access, leading Limbaugh to label her a "slut" and "prostitute." On the November 13 edition of his radio show, Limbaugh claimed he was vindicated by the ads and revived his attack on Fluke:
LIMBAUGH: All right, now, here's the ad. I'm gonna turn the Dittocam on. You've heard me read the text. Here is the ad. That ad is promoting promiscuity. That ad is associating promiscuity with Obamacare. Obamacare will get you your birth control pill so you can get him and you can get her. And you can get each other between the covers. You don't have to worry about anything because Obamacare's got you covered because you got insurance.
Let me show you this one more time. I have to pull this down because I've got the Dittocam really focused in. I think back, ladies and gentlemen, when I predicted, I warned everybody that's where this was headed. I forget that woman's name now, Snerdley, the one that was in that fake congressional hearing press conference. But she was sitting there, and she was basically saying, "Look, I want to have limitless, endless sex, I want you to pay for it. It's costing me $3,000 a month for my birth control, but I can't afford that with my tuition and everything else and I want you all to pay for it." And I was like any normal, responsible person, I was insulted by this, that we were being told we have to pay for this, which is behavior we don't sanction. We don't think there's anything good that can come of it.
CBS continues to ignore calls for an independent investigation into their flawed 60 Minutes Benghazi report, drawing a stark contrast with another failed report from 2004 in which the network bent to fears of an organized right-wing boycott.
After vigorously defending their October 27 report on Benghazi, CBS finally pulled the story, culminating in a tepid and harshly criticized 90-second apology on the November 10 edition of the show. But unlike the aftermath of a 2004 segment that used unreliable documents to report on President George W. Bush's National Guard service, CBS has not indicated that they will initiate an independent investigation, nor engage in any further effort to hold the show or its employees accountable.
In an appearance on MSNBC's All In with Chris Hayes, Media Matters' David Brock pointed out that one major difference between CBS' actions following the two failed reports is that in 2004, the network was "scared of a right-wing boycott" because "the right was much louder in the Rather case." Hayes pointed to the "asymmetry of the pressure on the right and the left around issues like this" and "the ability of the right-wing echo machine to turn" the National Guard report into" the biggest story in the world" as factors influencing CBS' reaction to the two stories:
Fox News contributor Erick Erickson launched his latest personal attack on Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis, whom he proudly labeled "Abortion Barbie," by absurdly suggesting that a 1996 lawsuit in which Davis made a routine legal claim in a defamation lawsuit disqualified her to hold public office.
In a post on his conservative website RedState, Erickson highlighted a 1996 lawsuit in which Davis sued the Fort Worth Star-Telegram for defamation. Erickson seized on language from the suit, in which Davis claimed the editorial had caused "damages to her mental health," a required element of her alternate Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress (IIED) claim, to argue Democrats would regret supporting her campaign for governor:
Back in 1996, Wendy Davis lost an election for the Fort Worth, TX City Council. After the election, she sued the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the local newspaper, for defamation. In short, Davis did not like being criticized by the media (something she won't have to worry about this go round), so she sued for those criticisms claiming they defamed her.
The Texas Court of Appeals and then the Texas Supreme Court both threw out her case. But it is worth noting that Davis, in making her case, claimed that the nasty newspaper, by virtue of criticizing her, damaged her "mental health."
More worrisome regarding her mental stability, Davis sued the newspaper months after losing her city council and claimed that she "ha[d] suffered and [was] continuing to suffer damages to her mental health."
Think about that. The best candidate the Texas Democrats could find to run is a lady who admits in open court that a newspaper editorial caused her mental health to be damaged.
As explained by the Digital Media Law Project of Harvard University's Berman Center for Internet & Society, "Plaintiffs who file defamation lawsuits often add an intentional infliction of emotional distress claim as an alternative theory of liability." Within these IIED claims, a plaintiff must prove the emotional distress, or "damages to her mental health." In other words, Erickson wants his subscribers to "think about" the routine legal boilerplate of Wendy Davis' lawyers from 1996.
Erickson's suggestion that Davis is unfit for public office because of a defamation lawsuit is only the latest in his string of absurd or vicious personal attacks against her. In August, Erickson labeled Davis "Abortion Barbie" after she declined to comment on the case of convicted murderer Kermit Gosnell: