Virginia Senator Mark Warner is currently polling 20 points ahead of his Republican challenger Ed Gillespie in the 2014 midterm election, a margin that, to Fox, shows Warner is "running for his life."
The January 30 edition of Fox's Happening Now debated whether Democratic candidates are "in trouble this election cycle over Obamacare," jumping off a recent Politico article about 2014 midterms strategy.
Fox contributor Pete Snyder -- the GOP candidate for lieutenant governor of Virginia in 2013 -- used the segment to hype Republican Ed Gillespie's 2014 Senate challenge to Democratic incumbent Mark Warner (VA). Snyder repeatedly claimed that Warner is "in the fight of his life" against Gillespie, "a proven conservative," because of Warner's vote in favor of health care reform. Snyder cheered, "I'm throwing my weight behind Ed," before concluding, "Mark Warner is running for his life."
Fox News "Medical A-Team" member Dr. Keith Ablow baselessly speculated about the mental health of the Columbia Mall shooter, ignoring proof that access to firearms, not mental health conditions, is the most significant factor in most gun violence.
On January 25, Darion Marcus Aguilar shot and killed two people before committing suicide at a mall in Columbia, Maryland. Two days later, Dr. Keith Ablow appeared Fox's America's News HQ to discuss the shooter's possible motive. Ablow dismissed the ready availability of guns, instead surmising that the shooter showed signs of "serious mental health care problems":
ABLOW: The anti-gun people are going to say, 'oh, it's the gun, it's the gun, it's the gun.' It isn't the gun. We have a crisis in terms of mental health care where I promise you that there were signs that this individual too was experiencing serious mental health care problems.
Conservative media figures relied on gender norms to smear Texas gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis as an uncaring mother after learning of her decision to give her ex-husband custody of her children as she pursued her law degree.
On January 18th, The Dallas Morning News reported that "some facts have been blurred" in Wendy Davis' personal story, including that she had been 21, not 19, when she divorced her first husband. The paper also reported that when Davis and her second husband were divorced in 2005, he was granted parental custody of her two children, one teenager and one adult.
Fox News stoked fears about the security of HealthCare.gov, all but ignoring the fact that a top official testified to Congress on January 16 that the website is secure.
The January 16 edition of Special Report with Bret Baier featured a panel discussion on the security of the health care website consisting of Fox News contributor Charles Krauthammer, Fox News Legal Analyst Andrew Napolitano, and frequent Fox guest A.B. Stoddard. Baier and his guests roundly panned the website's security, relying on testimony by cyber security expert David Kennedy, who claimed that HealthCare.gov remains insecure:
Right-wing media responded to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's (R) admission that his administration caused a traffic jam on the George Washington Bridge as political payback with praise for the embattled governor and used Christie's response to pivot to criticisms of President Obama including invoking the phony Benghazi scandal.
Fox Business host Stuart Varney, who has repeatedly mocked low-income Americans, dismissed the War on Poverty as ineffective on its 50th anniversary, ignoring evidence that government anti-poverty programs have been vital in decreasing the poverty rate.
On January 8, 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson used his State of the Union address to enumerate proposals and policy prescriptions that would come to be known as the War on Poverty. Many of these proposals were eventually signed into law, such as Medicare, Medicaid, and a permanent food stamp program.
Fifty years later, Fox Business host Stuart Varney dismissed the success of these programs. In a January 8 America's Newsroom segment, Varney cast doubt on the War on Poverty's effectiveness in reducing the poverty rate:
VARNEY: We have not made that much progress in reducing the poverty rate. 15 percent of Americans are still in poverty. It's roughly the same level as it was back in 1964. It did help feed hungry people, treat sick people, and it did raise the standard of living for many, many poor people. However, the proportion of people still living in poverty, pretty much the same as it was back in 1964, Martha.
The federal anti-poverty programs Varney discounts actually helped reduce the poverty rate from 26 percent to 16 percent from 1967 to 2011, according to a recent study by the Columbia Population Research Center at Columbia University. From the study (emphasis added):
The OPM shows the overall poverty rates to be nearly the same in 1967 and 2011 -- at 14% and 15% respectively. But our counterfactual estimates using the anchored SPM show that without taxes and other government programs, poverty would have been roughly flat at 27-29%, while with government benefits poverty has fallen from 26% to 16% -- a 40% reduction. Government programs today are cutting poverty nearly in half (from 29% to 16%) while in 1967 they only cut poverty by about one percentage point.
The New York Times' Economix blog put that data into graph form to show how vital government programs have been in keeping people out of poverty:
Indeed, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, it is "simply not valid or accurate" to claim that federal efforts to alleviate poverty have largely failed.
Varney's refusal to acknowledge the progress made in the War on Poverty is in keeping with his record of shaming the poor. He has said that low-income Americans "have things -- what they lack is the richness of spirit," argued that furloughed federal workers deserve to be "punish[ed]," and attacked government funding for feeding children and seniors.
2013 was an epic year of right-wing media misinforming the public on the health care debate, particularly on women's health issues. Ignoring women's health experts, conservative media spent this year stoking fears about everything from birth control to maternity care, ignoring science, distorting state and federal regulations, and demonizing women's health care options in the process. These are the top six scare tactics from 2013.
Media Matters looks back at the best of the worst of right-wing media's treatment of women in 2013.
The real-world impact of opinions like Megyn Kelly's was on display this week when a black ninth grader was chastised by his teacher for dressing like Santa Claus, because according to him, Santa is white. Comments such as these are not only offensive, they erode a child's self-image, as a clinical psychologist told CNN.
Fox's Megyn Kelly sparked much controversy on December 11 for insisting that Santa was, and is, white, in response to a piece by Slate columnist Aisha Harris on how the universal image of a white Santa can be difficult for minority children to reconcile with their own experiences. Kelly later accused her critics of race-baiting and targeting her simply because she worked at Fox.
On December 16, CNN Newsroom highlighted Kelly's comments when telling the story of a black student at Cleveland High School in New Mexico who was rebuked by his teacher for dressing up in a Santa outfit. According to host Wolf Blitzer, "the teacher reportedly told the ninth grader that he couldn't dress as Santa because he was of the wrong skin color."
Comments like these, and Kelly's, are harmful to children, as clinical psychologist Dr. Jeffrey Gardere illustrated to CNN's George Howell:
HOWELL: So when a child hears comments like that from Megyn Kelly, or from a teacher who puts his opinion out there, like we heard in New Mexico, what does it do to the child's self-image?
GARDERE: It begins to erode that child's self-image. We are a society that says that we are all equal and we can all participate in something that is generic, as Santa Claus.
Following the episode, CNN reported, the student's father said his son "really wants nothing to do with Christmas this year."
The incident at Cleveland High School is a stark real-life example of the effect that comments like Megyn Kelly's can have on children. A teacher's ridiculing the student for daring to be black and dress as Santa Claus reflects Kelly's view that Santa is invariably a white man, and minority children should simply get over it. Kelly herself summed it up well: "Just because it makes you uncomfortable doesn't mean it has to change."
Fox News' special "Behind the Obama Breakdown" prominently featured the Koch brothers-funded organization Generation Opportunity, an anti-health care reform group seeking to deter young people from signing up for Obamacare coverage, without ever acknowledging the political bias behind the organization.
On December 13, Fox aired a special report hosted by Bret Baier called "Behind the Obama Breakdown." The report opened and closed with segments on Generation Opportunity, an organization that travels to colleges around the country to encourage millenials to opt out of signing up for coverage on the Affordable Care Act's exchanges. Baier described the group as "young, political activists mobilizing against the president's signature legislation" and "community organizer[s]," airing footage of Gen Opp rallies, headquarters, and interviews with Evan Feinberg, the organization's president. Feinberg's remarks often drove the special's narratives, placed between new topics to introduce a new theme to viewers.
The hour-long report featured Feinberg and Generation Opportunity multiple times throughout it, totaling more than six minutes of coverage to the group. Baier allowed Feinberg to repeatedly push his anti-health care agenda, encouraging young people not to sign up for health insurance on the ACA.
Neither Baier nor Feinberg ever acknowledged that the organization is financed by the Koch brothers. The group received $5.04 million from "Freedom Partners," a conservative lobbying group funded by the Koch brothers. The funding is responsible for a series of anti-Obamacare ads featuring a "Creepy Uncle Sam" -- who also made appearances in Fox's special -- to provoke fear about the government and deter young people from signing up for the ACA.
Narrating over shots of a Generation Opportunity tailgate, Baier said of the group's mission: "This is more than a pregame tailgate bash. It sounds a lot like a call to civil disobedience." What Baier characterizes as "civil disobedience" -- opting out of the ACA -- may have dangerous consequences for young adults. Without insurance, young people will be responsible for the full costs of any injuries, illness, or preventive care. And when the average cost to treat even a broken leg without health insurance is over $10,000, footing the bill is unlikely to be affordable for young people.
Fox has hidden the people behind Generation Opportunity before, and its repeated spotlight on the organization fits with the network's continuing efforts to discourage millennials from signing up for health insurance, a campaign which ignores the fact that many young adults are eager to buy health insurance under the new ACA provisions.