Fox News, The Weekly Standard, and Matt Drudge are hiding Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski's support for provisions in a disaster relief bill in order to attack Murkowski's Democratic colleague, Sen. Mark Begich (AK).
The Senate is debating a $60.4 billion relief bill to provide funding for clean-up in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy this week. The Governors of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut have all endorsed a bill this size, but Republicans have reportedly threatened to block the bill if the proposed spending is not offset by cuts.
Right-wing media seized on some of the bill's provisions to call the bill an example of pork barrel spending even though the White House and Senate appropriators have said the vast majority of the spending in the bill is directly related to recovery from Hurricane Sandy. In particular, these media outlets have focused on a portion of the bill -- amounting to less than 0.3 percent of the total funds in the bill -- that provides money for states affected by disasters involving fisheries in the Northeast, Mississippi, and Alaska.
After misleadingly attacking the bill as a "scam" on Monday, Fox News' Fox & Friends First host Patti Ann Browne called the bill "packed with pork" and Fox Business correspondent Diane Macedo singled out Begich as a supporter of the fisheries provision.
But in order to suggest that this was a money grab by a Democratic senator, these outlets had to ignore the fact that Murkowski supported the fisheries provision too. Murkowski strongly praised the fisheries provision in a press release about the relief bill:
Alaska's Chinook fisheries were declared a disaster exactly three months ago, but no funds have been appropriated to help communities and businesses impacted yet. This bill will go a long way in providing federal resources to Alaskans who suffered economically because of this year's low King Salmon run get back on their feet.
Furthermore, the money will go to several states for which the Commerce Department declared disasters due to low catch rates and other problems: Mississippi, Rhode Island, New York, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut, and Alaska. And in Alaska, the declaration came as the result of a request by Republican Governor Sean Parnell.
News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch's call for politicians to find the "courage" to ban automatic weapons in the aftermath of the tragic mass shooting at a Connecticut elementary school is sharply at odds with the extreme rhetoric often heard on Fox News. Indeed, Fox voices routinely demonize any calls to strengthen gun laws.
Fox News host Gretchen Carlson falsely claimed that the Michigan legislature's approval of right-to-work legislation is directly linked to the failure of a ballot initiative to put collective bargaining rights in the state constitution. In fact, the two issues are not linked legislatively.
Michigan's anti-union "right-to-work" bill, which will significantly alter the way unions are financed, was signed into law on December 11. The law forbids union contracts that require workers who enjoy the benefits of a collective bargaining agreement to pay union dues, reducing the amount of money a union takes in. Carlson falsely claimed on the December 12 edition of Fox & Friends that Michigan voters "voted on a referendum to do exactly just this -- to give people who belong to unions a free choice about whether or not they actually want to pay the dues or they don't."
Carlson echoed her claim on the December 13 Fox & Friends, saying that "voters actually wanted what happened here."
Right-wing media falsely claimed that workers at organized work places are compelled to pay dues that go toward union political activities and that so-called "right-to-work" legislation in Michigan would give workers a choice about paying for these activities. In fact, workers at unionized work places already can choose whether to pay for political activities of their union.
Fox News is encouraging Republicans to once again hold up a routine increase in the debt ceiling to exact spending cuts in deficit reduction negotiations with Democrats, though the same tactic previously cost the government billions and resulted in a credit-rating downgrade. Experts agree that another Republican refusal to raise the debt ceiling in a timely manner would be extremely costly to the economy.
Fox News' Steve Doocy cast completely unwarranted suspicion on the Bureau of Labor Statistics employment statistics, saying it was "curious" that the agency had issued a downward revision to the number of jobs the economy created in the months leading up to the November election.
On Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released its monthly jobs report showing the economy added 146,000 jobs in November. The report also revised the estimates for its September and October jobs reports, finding that the economy had added 50,000 fewer jobs in those months than previously thought.
After Fox reported on the numbers, Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy said: "It's interesting what [Fox Business senior Washington correspondent] Peter Barnes said from Washington, and that was that in the two months running up to the election, now there apparently have been some revisions for September and October: 50,000 fewer jobs were created than reported by the federal government. That's curious."
Doocy did not explain what was curious about the revision, but his assertion comes after Fox's repeated attempt to cast doubt on the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) jobs numbers in the lead-up to the election. In October and early November, Fox News repeatedly embraced jobs number conspiracies to suggest that BLS was fixing its numbers to be politically advantageous to President Obama.
In fact, there is nothing curious about the revisions to the jobs data. The Bureau of Labor Statistics regularly revises its initial numbers because they come from a statistically volatile small survey. The Bureau maintains a table showing the revisions to its over-the-month estimates for every month going back to 1979, which shows that the jobs numbers are regularly revised by tens of thousands and even hundreds of thousands of jobs between the initial estimate and later estimates.
New York Times economics reporter Catherine Rampell has explained that the jobs numbers included in the BLS monthly reports have a margin of error of 400,000 and have "wild swings" every month:
These numbers are always tremendously volatile, but the reasons are statistical, not political. The numbers come from a tiny survey with a margin of error of 400,000. Every month there are wild swings, and no one takes them at face value. The swings usually attract less attention, though, because the political stakes are usually lower.
The numbers, by the way, are especially imprecise (and prone to revision) when the economy is making a turn, or when regular seasonal patterns start to change.
The Wall Street Journal covered up Sen. Mitch McConnell's (R-KY) original authorship of a proposal to give the president authority to take steps to avoid a federal government default in an article reporting that McConnell now opposes such a plan.
In negotiations between President Obama and congressional Republicans over how to deal with federal spending and taxes, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner proposed that the president should have the authority to raise the federal debt ceiling in order to avoid the federal government defaulting on its obligations. The president's authority would be subject to a vote of disapproval by Congress.
An Journal article on the debt ceiling quoted Sen. McConnell attacking the proposition "a nonstarter" for anyone who cares about the federal debt:
Republicans in public responded angrily to Mr. Obama's position on the debt ceiling and reiterated their opposition to a plan Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has floated that would make it much harder for lawmakers to block future increases in the debt ceiling.
"It may be a good idea if you don't care about the debt, but it's a nonstarter for those of us who do," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) said. "It also represents a dangerous attempt by a president to grab more power over spending, power that Congress must not and will not cede."
But the Journal omitted the fact that McConnell himself came up with the idea of granting the president this power in 2011 to avoid a costly default.
McConnell's 2011 idea -- which was enacted into law as part of an agreement over the debt ceiling -- had some differences with Geithner's proposal. McConnell's proposal granted the president the ability to raise the debt ceiling only three times, and it required that the president introduce a package of spending cuts along with a debt ceiling increase. Geithner's proposal makes McConnell's idea permanent and does not require the president to send Congress a spending cuts package. But the mechanism is largely the same: The president can raise the debt ceiling, but Congress can stop such an action by voting against a debt ceiling increase, subject to the president's right to veto the legislation and Congress' ability to override a presidential veto.
And experts say that making McConnell's idea permanent is a smart move. Jim Horney, vice president for federal fiscal policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, told the Washington Post that limiting Congress' power to hold the debt ceiling hostage "is a terrific idea." Slate's Matt Yglesias also wrote that handling the debt ceiling in this way was all but necessary after Republicans played brinkmanship over the issue in 2011:
[I]n the winter of 2010-11 the debt ceiling became dangerous. Some combination of malign intent on the part of John Boehner and strategic miscalculation on the part of Barack Obama weaponized it. Rather than simply subjecting the president to a verbal lashing over his desire to raise the debt ceiling, Boehner ended up using the threat of a potentially economy-destroying fiasco to extract concrete policy concessions. Once that tactic's been put on the table, no leader of either party can afford not to use it. But if you play the brinksmanship game too many times, sooner or later someone is going to go over the edge. That's a risk the country shouldn't be running, and over the long term it's to nobody's advantage to keep playing the game.
Right-wing media, including Fox News and the Drudge Report, are attacking NBC's Bob Costas for daring to question America's "gun culture" in the wake of the tragic murder-suicide committed by a Kansas City Chiefs football player. The Drudge Report characterized Costas' comments as a "gun control rant" while Fox criticized him for "lecturing America on gun control" in the wake of the tragedy.
On December 1, Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher killed his girlfriend at the house they shared before subsequently killing himself in front of his head coach and other members of the Chiefs organization. The following evening, during halftime of NBC's Sunday night football game, Costas endorsed part of a column by sportswriter Jason Whitlock who criticized the gun culture in America.
Costas said: " 'Our current gun culture," Whitlock wrote, 'ensures that more and more domestic disputes will end in the ultimate tragedy, and that more convenience-store confrontations over loud music coming from a car will leave more teenage boys bloodied and dead.' " Costas later added: " 'But here,' wrote Jason Whitlock, 'is what I believe: If Jovan Belcher didn't possess a gun, he and Kasandra Perkins would both be alive today.' "
Fox News' Fox & Friends repeatedly questioned whether it was "appropriate" for Costas to be "lecturing America on gun control."
In the wake of previous tragedies, conservative media figures have advocated against gun laws and even denied that gun violence is a serious problem in the United States. Now they've turned their focus to Costas who brought up the subject of America's gun culture in the wake of the latest high-profile example of gun violence.
Fox News demonstrated the fundamental hypocrisy of its claim that progressives are engaged in a war on Christmas by expressing outrage at Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee because he uses the term "holiday tree" rather "Christmas tree" to refer to the tree that will adorn the statehouse during the holiday season. However, minutes later, Fox announced that it would host its own "holiday wish list" segment.
Fox News has repeatedly attacked people and organizations who use the term holiday when the network would prefer them to use the term Christmas, claiming that they are engaging in a "war on Christmas."
On Fox & Friends First, co-host Heather Nauert claimed Chafee made the "decision to kill Christmas," alluding to a decision by the governor not to host a tree lighting ceremony at the statehouse this year.
Chafee reportedly made the decision because in 2011, protesters attended the tree lighting ceremony to criticize the governor for using the term "holiday tree." Fox played its part in creating controversy over the tree, enlisting viewers in a feverish and overblown campaign against the governor and the words "holiday tree."
But only minutes after Fox complained of the Governor's use of the word "holiday" in place of "Christmas," Nauert announced a new segment called "Fox & Friends First's Holiday Wish list":
Fox invented a contradiction between two of President Obama's previous statements and his current push to let the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy expire. In reality, Obama's prior comments are perfectly consistent with his current position.
Fox's Steve Doocy pointed to a statement Obama made in 2009 when the country was still in a recession to create a contradiction between Obama's past and present statements on letting the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy expire. Doocy claimed the president said back in 2009, "you never raise taxes during a recession," but that he's now saying: "This is the perfect time to raise taxes."
In August 2009, Obama said that "normally you don't raise taxes in a recession, which is why we haven't." President Obama added: "We have not proposed a tax hike for the wealthy that would take effect in the middle of a recession."
At the time the president made that statement, the country was just at the end of a recession. The National Bureau of Economic Research (the organization that semi-officially declares when the United States is in a recession) announced that the recession officially ended in June 2009, but it did not make that announcement until September 2010.
Later in the same segment, Fox's Dana Perino pointed to a different Obama statement as "slightly more important." Perino said that in December 2010 -- i.e., after it was clear that the country was in recovery -- Obama said "the worst thing you can do is raise taxes in the middle of a slow economic growth and high unemployment. Let's extend these tax cuts for another two years."
But Perino completely misrepresented Obama's 2010 comments.