Peter Schweizer is backtracking on his false allegation that the decision to exempt the telecommunications industry from Iranian sanctions while Hillary Clinton was secretary of state was connected to Bill Clinton's speaking fees from a Swedish telecommunications company, now admitting that there is no "evidence of a quid pro quo in that case."
Schweizer tried to link Swedish telecommunications company Ericsson's payment to former President Bill Clinton for a speech in November 2011 with the exemption of the telecommunications industry from sanctions against Iran, which does business with Ericsson, during an April 24 Fox News special, The Tangled Clinton Web. Host Bret Baier and Schweizer highlighted allegations from Schweizer's upcoming book, Clinton Cash, that attempts to link donations to the Clinton Foundation and speaking fees earned by Bill Clinton to decisions made by the State Department during Hillary Clinton's tenure in the Obama administration.
The author's speculation is baseless, as the Iran sanctions in question actually took the form of executive actions from President Obama, and not State Department initiatives.
Schweizer is now admitting that there's no evidence of a connection between Clinton's speaking fee and the Iran sanctions decision, walking back his false allegation during an appearance on the April 28 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe. Schweizer claimed that he was "not implying" a link between the decision to exclude the telecommunications industry from sanctions against Iran and Clinton's Ericsson speech and conceded, "Is there evidence of a quid pro quo in that case? No."
Indeed, when Yahoo News reviewed the chapter of Clinton Cash featuring this allegation, they noted that there was "no smoking gun" connecting the speech and the sanctions. Yahoo News further noted that a Clinton aide pointed out that telecommunications manufacturers like Ericsson have not been added to the sanctions since Clinton left the State Department, casting doubt on the suggestion of a connection between the 2011 Bill Clinton speech and U.S. sanctions policy.
Serial misinformer and GOP activist Peter Schweizer's forthcoming book Clinton Cash speculates that Clinton Foundation donors may have influenced State Department activities during Hillary Clinton's tenure as secretary of state. Consistent with the author's long history of shoddy reporting, media are highlighting how the book presents "little evidence" and "no smoking gun" proving that speculation.
Fox News' Special Report helped GOP presidential hopeful Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) reframe the reproductive choice debate by misleadingly hyping a poll that found that a majority of Americans support a legal ban on abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy. But abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy are extremely rare and studies show a majority of Americans continue to support access to abortions in cases of rape, incest, and various other health care reasons.
According to Politico, on April 8, Sen. Paul "refused to tell The Associated Press whether he would support exceptions for abortions in instances of rape or incest or if the birth of a child would risk the mother's life." Later that day, Paul told journalists in New Hampshire, "Why don't we ask the DNC" whether it is "OK to kill a 7-pound baby in the uterus."
Paul's comment was lauded by right-wing media, and on the April 16 edition of Fox News' Special Report host Bret Baier and correspondent Shannon Bream claimed his statement put Democrats on the "defensive" over "views on abortion most Americans find extreme." During the segment, Bream highlighted a Quinnipiac poll showing "a majority of Americans support legislation that would ban most abortions after 20 weeks into a pregnancy," to paint Democrats as extreme. Later in the show, panelists A.B. Stoddard, Charles Krauthammer, and Steve Hayes applauded Paul for "flipping the script" and exposing Democrats' "extremism" on reproductive choice. Hayes called him "absolutely brilliant" saying he "reframed the issue entirely," and Charles Krauthammer praised Paul's move saying banning abortion is "the right thing to do, and it's a winning issue."
Fox's praise for Paul's misleading characterization of the reproductive choice debate is unsurprising given the network's history of helping the GOP rebrand itself - as Bloomberg Politics' David Weigel pointed out, Paul's attempt to flip the script was "exactly what the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List PAC ha[s] been advising Republicans to do since 2012."
The Outdoor Channel's new documentary on gun-free zones, hosted by Katie Pavlich and hyped by Fox News, will feature right-wing media's favorite gun myths -- including the false claim that gun-free zones encourage mass shootings and may "creat[e] an environment for criminal activity to run rampant."
The April 1 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends hyped the Outdoor Channel's Safe Haven: Gun-Free Zones In America documentary premiering later that day, featuring its trailer and highlighting film-host and Fox contributor Katie Pavlich. Using the premiere to push the conservative myths that shooters specifically target locations that don't allow guns and that more guns would prevent mass shootings and other crimes, host Steve Doocy asserted that "you think gun-free zones, that's going to be safe, but that means if you don't have a gun, the bad guys do and you're in trouble." Pavlich agreed, adding, "gun-free zones are not gun-free, it gives criminals an ability to have the upper hand on people who are simply following the law."
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."
Right-wing media are rushing to champion Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) after he officially announced his bid for the 2016 Republican nomination for president.
Fox News figures are adopting an impossible standard to launch unprovable allegations against Hillary Clinton, arguing that the absence of an email can insinuate that Clinton either withheld or destroyed evidence.
Gowdy, chairman of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, claimed on the March 8 edition of CBS' Face The Nation that there are "gaps of months" in Clinton's email documents turned over by the State Department for the committee's investigation. To prove his claim, Gowdy referenced a photo of Clinton on her phone during a trip to Tripoli, Libya, and the absence of any email from that day related to Benghazi. According to Gowdy's logic: "It strains credibility to believe that if you're on your way to Libya to discuss Libyan policy that there's not a single document that's been turned over to Congress."
Fox News personalities quickly adopted Gowdy's absurd line of attack against Clinton. On his radio show, Sean Hannity asserted that "you can't tell me that it was an accident that 55,000 pages of emails were turned over but not one was about Benghazi." Fox contributor Andrew Napolitano took the attack further alleging that Clinton's control of her documents means Gowdy "does not know if she gave him everything he subpoenaed." Bill O'Reilly echoed Gowdy's allegations on the March 9 edition of his show, saying "there's already a gap brought out by Congressman Gowdy" because "the day that she traveled to Libya, there's no emails that came out on that and it's inconceivable that she wouldn't have any." And during an interview with Gowdy, Megyn Kelly agreed with demands that Clinton turn over her private email server stating that Clinton "chose to create a situation" where questions about her emails would need to be answered.
According to that fallacious reasoning, the absence of evidence proves wrongdoing on Clinton's part.
The reality is, the State Department turned over Clinton emails related to Benghazi to the Select Committee months ago. In a March 6 letter chastising Gowdy for "the very partisan and political turn" to issue a subpoena to Clinton, Democratic members of the House Select Committee noted that the State Department already turned over 300 Clinton emails related to Benghazi, and those emails confirm the findings of the Accountability Review Board:
These documents include no evidence to suggest that Secretary Clinton ordered the Secretary of Defense to "stand down," no evidence to suggest that she was personally involved in denying requests for security for Benghazi, and no evidence to suggest that she ordered the destruction of documents. Nothing in these emails contradicts or calls into question the findings of the independent Accountability Review Board.
Bill O'Reilly tried to shift focus away from the scrutiny he is facing for embellishing his reporting career by claiming that Fox News is under attack.
After Mother Jones called into question O'Reilly's accounts of covering the 1982 Falklands War, a number of journalists -- including many of O'Reilly's former CBS News colleagues -- and an Argentine historian have discredited O'Reilly's description of the riot he covered as a combat situation where "many were killed." And more holes have been exposed in other accounts of his reporting career -- his claim that he personally "heard" a shotgun blast that killed a figure in the investigation into President John F. Kennedy's assassination while reporting for a Dallas television station in 1977 has also been contradicted by his former colleagues at the station as well as a police report, contemporaneous reporting, and a congressional investigator who was probing Kennedy's death.
On the February 24 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly attempted to shift focus away from scrutiny surrounding discrepancies in his accounts of his reporting career by claiming that Fox News is under attack. Pointing to criticism disputing his claims about covering the 1982 Falklands War as a CBS News correspondent, O'Reilly claimed that despite rebutting such criticism, the media attacks against him have been "vicious, it's more vicious now than it [has] ever been." O'Reilly asserted that the reason he and his Fox News colleagues are under attack is because "Fox gives voice to conservatives and traditional people," and are "putting tremendous pressure on the Obama administration to fight the terror savages," and holding Hillary Clinton accountable ahead of a potential 2016 presidential bid. O'Reilly added, "On a personal note, I'm pretty tired of all the garbage":
Fox contributor Erick Erickson parroted Governor Scott Walker (R-WI) to cast doubt on President Obama's Christianity, alleging he is not a Christian "in any meaningful way," despite the fact that right-wing attempts to call Obama's faith into question have long been discredited.
On February 21, Erickson expressed doubt about President Obama's Christianity, writing on Twitter that Obama is not a Christian "in any meaningful way":
I don't think Barack Obama is a Christian. He certainly is not one in any meaningful way.-- Erick Erickson (@EWErickson) February 22, 2015
Erickson's statement echoes the comments of 2016 presidential hopeful Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, who told an interviewer "I don't know" whether Obama is a Christian, or whether "Obama loves his country" earlier the same day. As Democratic National Committee (DNC) spokesperson Holly Shulman pointed out, Walker's comments come after he sat "silently by when Rudy Giuliani made an outrageous comment that our President doesn't love America," -- a comment that has been condemned in mainstream media, but fiercely defended by conservative media like Fox News, Sean Hannity, and Rush Limbaugh.
Just as when right-wing media rushed to justify Giuliani's baseless assertion that Obama doesn't love America, Erickson's echoing of Walker's absurd statement will likely pressure other GOP presidential hopefuls to parrot claims that Obama is not a Christian in order to avoid attacks from the right-wing pundits who will help shape the opinions of conservative primary voters.
Fox News and conservative commentators like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck have a long history of questioning Obama's religion, and even pushing the debunked myth that he is a Muslim, despite the fact that references to his Christian faith are commonplace in Obama's public speeches, and accusations that Obama is a Muslim have no basis in reality.
Bill O'Reilly claims he never said he was in the Falkland Islands while reporting on the Falklands War from Buenos Aires. But over the years, O'Reilly has repeatedly created the impression he was in a combat zone.