As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton prepares to testify before Congress about the September 11 attack on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, Media Matters reviews the falsehoods conservative media have pushed regarding Clinton and her response to the attack.
Fox News hosts echoed Rush Limbaugh's accusation that President Obama will use children as "human shields" at a White House event on stronger gun laws. However, President Bush also had children in attendance during bill signings and announcements.
Limbaugh and Fox News attacked Obama over the announcement that the president will propose measures to reduce gun violence on Wednesday at the White House. The administration invited children to the event who had written Obama about their safety concerns following the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
On the Tuesday edition of The Five, the co-hosts aired Limbaugh's "human shields" accusation, then voiced their own disgust. Co-host Kimberly Guilfoyle said the children were being used as "political pawns," while Eric Bolling said the event was in "bad taste" and "offensive."
But as co-hosts Dana Perino and Bob Beckel noted, this is not in any way an unprecedented event. In fact, Perino's former boss, President George W. Bush, had children attend the signing of the No Child Left Behind law in 2002:
In addition, Bush invited the families of so-called "snowflake" babies to the White House when he vetoed federal funding of embryonic stem cell research.
During his Fox News program, Sean Hannity cited the plot of the movie Zero Dark Thirty to push the theory that enhanced interrogation techniques helped the U.S. intelligence community locate Osama bin Laden. However, CIA records show that enhanced interrogation techniques were not key to finding Bin Laden.
Right-wing media have inconsistently responded to House Speaker John Boehner's (R-OH) failed attempt to pass his proposed "Plan B" to resolve the so-called "fiscal cliff" standoff, including praising conservative Republicans who opposed the measure, expressing regret that the measure didn't pass, questioning the viability of Boehner's speakership, and blaming President Obama for the plan's failure, despite Obama's concessions to the GOP.
Fox News figures accused Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of faking an illness when she suffered a concussion after fainting due to dehydration. The State Department has criticized Fox News contributor John Bolton for engaging in "wild speculation based on no information."
Following the mass shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, the cable network Discovery told Fox News that it has canceled its reality series American Guns. In October, Discovery aired a one-hour special called Ted Nugent's Gun Country starring NRA board member and Washington Times columnist Ted Nugent, despite his history of inflammatory rhetoric.
While Discovery has described Ted Nugent's Gun Country as a "one-hour special," Nugent claimed that Discovery "want[s] to do it as a regular feature." Nugent has also said the show would help him advance his view in the "culture war."
The episode of Ted Nugent's Gun Country that aired in October showed Nugent shooting a scimitar-horned oryx, an animal extinct in the wild, and using a .50-caliber Browning armor-piercing machine gun to blow holes in a steel door used by a team of "preppers" to protect their armory.
Discovery Channel's popular reality show about a family of gun makers, "American Guns," came under intense scrutiny in the wake of Friday's mass shooting at a Connecticut grade school, with people flooding the show's Facebook page calling for its cancelation.
"I know you all have to make money but would Discovery Channel PLEASE consider ceasing to broadcast the show in the U.K.? Sadly your program makes buying/owning guns seem fun, glamorous, even normal," wrote one. Another tweeted, "Dear Discovery Channel: it's not appropriate showing the program American Guns now!" Another weighed in: "With Discovery shows like 'Sons of Guns', 'American Guns', 'Ted Nugent's Gun Country' etc it's not surprising how guns r seen as acceptable."
It seems the critics may have been heard.
A Discovery rep told FOX411 that "American Guns" - which is out of production and not currently broadcasting new episodes - has been canceled and will not return for a third season. This comes as something of a surprise given its growing popularity. The show had a 50 percent ratings increase for its second season premiere, and one of its stars, Renee Wyatt, recently said she would "definitely" be interested in returning for season three. The rep, however, would not link the show's cancelation to the Connecticut school massacre.
According to the Discovery website, another of the network's gun-oriented programs, Sons of Guns, has no scheduled upcoming episodes.
Gun researcher John Lott has made numerous media appearances in the wake of the mass shooting in Newtown, Conn. to argue against the enactment of gun violence prevention measures. While Lott uses his media platform to push a multitude of statistics -- often from his own research -- he has been thoroughly discredited as a serious academic researcher.
Fox News hyped results from poll questions premised on falsehoods to reinforce its phony narrative about the attack on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, that left four Americans dead. This fits with Fox News' history of pointing to public opinion polls to suggest that false talking points it has promoted are fact.
Fox News reported these poll results as it was announced that U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice was withdrawing as a candidate for secretary of state. Fox News led a relentless smear campaign against Rice alleging that her statements about Benghazi on Sunday morning news shows were somehow a scandal, despite copious evidence to the contrary.
While discussing the Benghazi attack, international correspondent Catherine Herridge and Fox Business anchor Lou Dobbs each cited a Fox News poll question that asked, "On the night of the attack, do you think President Obama should have ordered U.S. troops to go to Benghazi and help the Americans at the consulate there?" Sixty-five percent said yes, but the question falsely suggests that the Obama administration didn't act to help Americans in Benghazi.
In reality, reinforcements from the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli arrived in Benghazi the night of the attack. Furthermore, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has said that a military response to the attack was not possible.
Herridge and Dobbs also cited a poll question that asked, "Do you think the Obama administration has covered-up what happened" in Benghazi? Though 48 percent agreed, the question is premised on a Fox News conspiracy theory -- the Obama administration has continually said that it was sharing information as it developed, and multiple investigations of the attack are under way.
Fox News host Bill O'Reilly falsely suggested that President Obama's proposal to let Bush tax cuts expire could leave some wealthy Americans paying 40 percent of their incomes in federal taxes. But Obama has only proposed letting taxes on the top income bracket increase -- which means only income over $200,000 would be affected -- and very few Americans pay more than 35 percent in U.S. taxes.
This tax discussion comes as the Obama administration and the Republican House try to reach a deal on the automatic tax hikes and spending cuts known as the fiscal cliff.
O'Reilly told guest Adam Corolla that "your state's up to about 14 percent state income tax. President Obama wants to raise it up to about 40 percent federal. That's 54 percent. If he knocks out the deduction for state income taxes, which he wants to do, you'd be paying 54."
This is a complete misunderstanding of how income tax brackets in the United States work. President Obama has proposed letting the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans expire, which means the top income tax bracket would increase from its current 36 percent to 39.6 percent. But those rates would only apply to income exceeding $200,000. A taxpayer filing as "single" would currently pay a series of increasing marginal rates on his or her income, beginning with a rate of 10 percent on the first $8700 of income and ending with a rate of 35 percent on income over $388,350. And many taxpayers are able to take deductions, which limit their tax liability.
The taxpayer's effective rate almost always ends up much lower than 35 percent. According to the Tax Policy Center, in 2008, only 10,228 out of 142,450,569 total tax filers paid more than a 35 percent effective tax rate. That's only .0072 percent of tax returns.
As the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has noted, "a taxpayer's marginal tax rate is the tax rate imposed on his or her last dollar of income." CBPP added: "Taxpayers' average tax rates are lower -- usually much lower -- than their marginal rates. People who confuse the two can end up thinking that taxes are much higher than they actually are."
Fox News co-host Greg Gutfeld echoed statistics used by a Republican congressman to suggest right-to-carry laws decrease violent crime -- but studies have shown no such correlation. Gutfeld also hyped the debunked claim that there are "2.5 million instances each year" in which a gun is used in self-defense.
Pundits and commentators have been discussing gun-related violence following NFL player Jovan Belcher's murder-suicide. NBC Sports' Bob Costas has been ridiculed by right-wing media for comments he made on the subject during a Sunday night football broadcast.
During a segment on The Five about Belcher's murder-suicide and Costas' comments, Gutfeld said:
GUTFELD: If you want to look at the FBI uniform crime report -- right-to-carry states, 30 percent have lowered their homicide rates. Forty-six percent -- lower assault and robbery. Overall, 22 percent violent [sic] rates gone down in right-to-carry. Basically, when you're not arming people, you're actually creating a health hazard. A gun is a vitamin of safety.
Gutfeld's statistics mirror those used by a Republican congressman in a House Judiciary Committee press release issued following the House's 2011 passage of a national right-to-carry bill. The press release quoted Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX):
[House Judiciary Committee] Chairman Smith: "The Second Amendment is a fundamental right to bear arms that should not be constrained by state boundary lines. This legislation enhances public safety and protects the right to bear arms under the Second Amendment.
"Studies show that carrying concealed weapons reduces violent crime rates by deterring would-be assailants and by allowing law-abiding citizens to defend themselves. Data from the FBI's Annual Uniform Crime Report shows that 'right-to-carry' states, or those that widely allow concealed carry, have 22% lower total violent crime rates, 30% lower murder rates, 46% lower robbery rates, and 12% lower aggravated assault rates, as compared to the rest of the country.
But studies show there is not actually a correlation between right-to-carry laws and lower violent crime rates. A 2011 PolitiFact post reported that "using the 2009 [FBI] data, we don't see any evidence that state gun laws correlate with violent crime rates one way or the other, at least not 'across the board.' "