Fox News baselessly suggested that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton personally approved a deal that eventually gave the Russian government ownership of U.S. uranium mines to benefit a Clinton Foundation donor. But Clinton reportedly had no personal involvement in the deal, which was approved by representatives of nine U.S. agencies after a rigorous review process.
On the April 4 edition of Special Report, host Bret Baier previewed his upcoming hour-long special on discredited conservative author Peter Schweizer's forthcoming book Clinton Cash, in which he accuses Bill and Hillary Clinton of influence peddling with foreign governments in exchange for donations to the Clinton Foundation and speaking fees. The segment focused on Schweizer's allegations regarding Clinton's purported role in approving the sale of the uranium mining company Uranium One to the Russian government.
New York Times reporter Jo Becker, whose own reporting on the Uranium One story has been criticized by the Clinton campaign for burying "original reporting that debunks the allegation that then-Secretary Clinton played any role in the review of the sale," also appeared in the segment. Both the Times and Fox reportedly "made arrangements for exclusive access" to the book.
During the preview, Schweizer detailed the sale of Uranium One to the Russian state corporation Rosatom. He and Schweizer then had the following exchange:
BAIER: Now, does Secretary Clinton factor into this?
SCHWEIZER: For that deal to go through, it needs federal government approval and one of those people that has to approve that deal is Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Baier concluded: "So what this amounts to, in the end, is a Russian company essentially controlled by Vladimir Putin, will now be in charge of a substantial portion of American uranium. Russia sends uranium to its client state, Iran. So American uranium could well be sent to the very nation we're negotiating with to try to slow its ability to develop a nuclear weapon. Thus, we see how far-reaching the effect of the Clinton blur, as Schweizer puts it, can be."
But Baier's preview omitted important context to misleadingly suggest that Clinton personally approved the Russian purchase. According to Time, which received this chapter of Schweizer's book in advance, the State Department's role in approving the deal was part of an extensive bureaucratic process, and Schweizer's chapter offers no indication of Hillary Clinton's personal involvement in, or even knowledge of, the deliberations. In fact, Time quotes Jose Hernandez, who as former Assistant Secretary of State for Economic, Energy and Business Affairs was involved the deliberations on behalf of the State Department, denying that Clinton was involved in the matter at all.
Moreover, Time pointed out that the "deal's approval was the result of an extensive interagency process that required the assent of at least nine different officials and agencies" through the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States. According to the report, "State has just one vote on the nine-member committee, which also includes the departments of Defense, Treasury and Energy. Disagreements are traditionally handled at the staff level, and if they are not resolved, they are escalated to deputies at the relevant agencies. If the deputies can't resolve the dispute, the issues can be elevated to the Cabinet Secretary level and, if needed, to the President for a decision. The official chairman of CFIUS is the Treasury Secretary, not the Secretary of State."
Furthermore, the Uranium One deal also had to receive approval from "the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, an independent agency outside of the State Department's purview, as well as Utah's nuclear regulator. The deal also received approval from Canada's foreign investment review agency."
Clinton campaign press secretary Brian Fallon has denied any wrongdoing by Clinton and criticized Becker for burying crucial facts from her report "that debunks the allegation that then-Secretary Clinton played any role in the review of the sale."
Relying largely on research from the conservative author of Clinton Cash, today's New York Times alleges that donations to the Clinton Foundation coincided with the U.S. government's 2010 approval of the sale of a company known as Uranium One to the Russian government. Without presenting any direct evidence in support of the claim, the Times story -- like the book on which it is based -- wrongly suggests that Hillary Clinton's State Department pushed for the sale's approval to reward donors who had a financial interest in the deal. Ironically, buried within the story is original reporting that debunks the allegation that then-Secretary Clinton played any role in the review of the sale.
Fox News' Andrea Tantaros defended Indiana's controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), asserting that businesses owners "would go out of their way not to discriminate." But a business owner in Indiana has already pledged to use the law to deny services to LGBT customers.
Indiana's "religious freedom" law -- which provides a legal defense for businesses that refuse to serve LGBT customers for religious reasons -- ignited a firestorm of criticism this week, with legal scholars and LGBT advocates raising concerns about the law's broad language.
On the April 1 edition of Fox News' Outnumbered, co-host Tantaros downplayed concerns about the law, claiming, "these big businesses are going to go out of their way, of course, not to discriminate," adding that she doesn't "see Christian businesses refusing to serve eggs to anyone."
But at least one Indiana businessowner has already pledged to refuse to serve LGBT people. Crystal O'Connor, an owner of Memories Pizza shop in Walkerton, told ABC 57 that she supported RFRA and would refuse service to a gay couple because "we are a Christian establishment." "If a gay couple came in and wanted us to provide pizzas for their wedding, we would have to say no," she stated.
Fox News media critic Howard Kurtz downplayed the bloody arrest and subsequent national media coverage of a black University of Virginia (UVA) student, arrested during an alleged dispute over his ID, claiming "such arrests are common in this college town."
The Washington Post reported that Virginia's Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) is under scrutiny after the violent arrest of UVA student Martese Johnson, who "sustained head injuries that left him with bloody streaks down his face" following St. Patrick's Day celebrations near the UVA campus in Charlottesville. Photos of Johnson's bloody face sparked widespread outrage and protests over the use of excessive police force.
During a segment on March 20 edition of Special Report, Kurtz criticized the national media attention claiming that this was a local story with "no evidence that race was a factor" in the arrest. Kurtz later downplayed the arrest as typical, asserting that "bartenders tell us such arrests are common in this college town."
Former Fox News contributor and journalism professor Jane Hall explained that the media should hold Fox News host Bill O'Reilly to the same standard Brian Williams faced after news broke of his multiple reporting fabrications.
Recently, O'Reilly has faced increased criticism and scrutiny following the news of various discrepancies and fabrications in stories he told about his journalistic credentials which may have wrongly benefited his career. The controversy has spurred calls from a veterans group and other organizations for O'Reilly to be held accountable for his fabrications by Fox. O'Reilly has even faced criticism from former colleagues at CBS, Inside Edition, and now Fox News.
During an interview with The Wrap, O'Reilly's former colleague at Fox, American University journalism professor Jane Hall said that media outlets should hold O'Reilly to the same standard as Brian Williams, who was suspended for six months after he acknowledged "exaggerating his role in a helicopter episode in Iraq." According to Hall:
"I think the media reporting should hold [O'Reilly] to the same standard [as Brian Williams]," former Fox News contributor and American University Journalism Professor Jane Hall told TheWrap. "He reaches how many millions of people a night? If people in the media are dismissing him as, 'he's an entertainer,' I think they're vastly underestimating his influence."
A Fox News spokesperson told The Wrap Hall's contract was not renewed and she was let go; Hall says she left of her own volition.
Hall thinks NBC News' swift response to the Williams scandal was appropriate in the context of the sober "Nightly News" brand, but emphasized O'Reilly shouldn't be let off the hook.
"He is an opinion host, but I don't think that means reporters shouldn't be writing about it given his influence and his ratings," adding that the question reporters need to ask is, "what is your audience, what is your reach, what is your political influence?"
Fox News host Bill O'Reilly boosted his idea that the U.S. is in a holy war against the Islamic State (also known as ISIS or ISIL), demanding the Obama administration "take the holy war seriously" and urging American clerics to lead the fight.
After the Islamic State's beheading of 21 Egyptian Christians in Libya, O'Reilly claimed that "the holy war is here" on the February 17 edition of his show. O'Reilly later called on "all Christians, Jews, and secularists who love their country" to call the White House and "say enough."
On the February 18 edition of his show, O'Reilly again claimed it is "appropriate to define the worldwide conflict between Muslim fanatics and nearly everybody else" as a "holy war" and demanded President Obama "take the holy war seriously." O'Reilly asserted that the West must come together to eliminate the Islamic State, adding that "if the politicians won't do it, the clergy must lead the way."
After three North Carolina students were shot to death in a possible parking dispute, Inside Edition's Deborah Norville used the news to segue into a segment providing viewers tips on how to avoid aggressive drivers and find parking spaces while shopping.
Three Muslim students were killed in their apartment complex by neighbor Craig Hicks over "long-simmering anger over parking and noise inside their condominium complex," the Associated Press reported on February 10. Police are also investigating the possibility the shooting was motivated by religious animosity toward the students.
Fox News host Bill O'Reilly criticized the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) for adding former Fox contributor Ben Carson to the group's "extremist files" for his anti-LGBT comments. To defend Carson, O'Reilly invited a senior fellow from the Family Research Council (FRC), a group also listed on the SPLC's "extremist files" for their anti-LGBT rhetoric, to denounce the SPLC.
The SPLC recently added Washington Times columnist Carson to its "extremist files," citing his extreme anti-LGBT rhetoric (emphasis original):
In His Own Words:
"Marriage is between a man and a woman. It's a well-established pillar of society and no group, be they gays, be they NAMBLA [North American Man/Boy Association, a group advocating pedophilia], be they people who believe in bestiality--it doesn't matter what they are, they don't get to change the definition."
--Interview on Fox News' "Hannity," March 26, 2013
"[I]f we can redefine marriage as between two men or two women or any other way based on social pressures as opposed to between a man and a woman, we will continue to redefine it in any way that we wish, which is a slippery slope with a disastrous ending, as witnessed in the dramatic fall of the Roman Empire."
--America the Beautiful: Resdiscovering What Made This Nation Great, 2012 book written with Candy Carlson
"Obamacare is really the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery. And ... in a way, it is slavery."
--Values Voter Summit, Washington, D.C., Oct. 11, 2013
"I mean [our government and institutions] are very much like Nazi Germany. ... You know, you had a government using its tools to intimidate the population. We now live in a society where people are afraid to say what they really believe."
--Quoted by Breitbart News, March 12, 2014
On February 10, O'Reilly criticized the designation of Carson and invited FRC's Ken Blackwell on to discuss whether the SPLC was "straying from their mission." During the interview, Blackwell denounced the group as an "auxiliary operation of the political left," and admitted that FRC was designated a "hate organization" by the SPLC. Blackwell said that the designation of Carson as an anti-LGBT extremist is "ridiculous on its face." O'Reilly ended his interview with Blackwell by asking him whether he "consider[s] the Southern Poverty Law Center a hate group?"
The FRC was designated by the SPLC as an anti-gay hate group, owing to the malicious anti-LGBT rhetoric of FRC figures like FRC president Tony Perkins, who has endorsed a Ugandan bill that would have imposed the death penalty for homosexuality, asserted that gay people face "eternal damnation," and compared gays with terrorists. Along with other FRC personalities, Perkins has accused gay men of preying on children and condemned efforts to curb anti-LGBT bullying as part of an effort to "recruit" children "into that lifestyle."
Ben Carson responded to the SPLC in a statement to the conservative website Breitbart.com, saying, "When embracing traditional Christian values is equated to hatred, we are approaching the stage where wrong is called right and right is called wrong. It is important for us to once again advocate true tolerance," adding that "It is nothing but projectionist when some groups label those who disagree with them as haters." Carson's statement continues a pattern of conservative media conflating homophobic views and statements with Christian religious beliefs.
UPDATE: The SPLC issued a statement on February 11 announcing that it has removed Ben Carson from its "extremist files" list. The statement also notes that "Dr. Carson has, in fact, made a number of statements that express views that we believe most people would conclude are extreme" and that "his views should be closely examined."
A Fox News Special Report segment hyped fears that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) could impose a penalty on taxpayers who received an advanced premium subsidy to help defer the cost of health care insurance. But the report failed to note that the IRS offers penalty relief to some taxpayers.
According to The New York Times, many ACA enrollees who qualified for a subsidy and chose to have it paid in advanced based on their projected 2014 income may have to pay for subsidy overpayments. The Times explained, if "their actual income was higher -- because they got a raise or found a new job -- they will be entitled to a smaller subsidy and must repay the difference, subject to certain limits."
On the February 6 edition of Special Report, guest host Chris Wallace claimed that "many tax-payers are getting a nasty surprise courtesy of the president's health care law." White House correspondent Kevin Corke reported that millions could have to pay a tax penalty due to the overpayment of income-based federal subsidies to purchase health insurance under the ACA. Corke claimed that "millions may have underestimated their tax snapshot and now have to pay":
Bloomberg News is helping a Republican operative push out a dishonest smear of Hillary Clinton, hyping the aggregate cost of Clinton's air travel while she was serving as a U.S. Senator as something that could be scandalous. But the article's dubious premise is undermined by facts contained in the article, notably that Clinton's travel history was routine and completely within Senate rules.
"Hillary Clinton took more than 200 privately chartered flights at taxpayer expense during her eight years in the U.S. Senate," Bloomberg reported, "sometimes using the jets of corporations and major campaign donors as she racked up $225,756 in flight costs."
The article warned that Clinton's travel record could feed into Republican attacks that she is "out of touch."
But Bloomberg undermined the entire premise of its article, reporting that "the flights fell within congressional rules and were not out of the ordinary for senators at the time":
There is no evidence her Senate trips, which ranged in cost from less than $200 to upwards of $3,000 per flight, ran afoul of Senate rules, which were tightened by a 2007 ethics law. Before the law was changed, senators were required to pay the cost of a first-class ticket to ride aboard a private jet -- or, in some cases, even less. In Clinton's final two years in the Senate, lawmakers who flew on private or chartered planes had to pay their proportional share of the cost of the flight based on the number of passengers.
Bloomberg's complicity in pushing a GOP smear campaign that it concedes is without merit is a troubling development given the relentless and deceptive conservative attacks on Clinton.
Former Fox News host Mike Huckabee criticized his former female co-workers at Fox for using profanity and language he called "trashy."
Politico reported on Huckabee's January 23 radio interview on Iowa's Mickelson in the Morning, with host Jan Mickelson in which Huckabee complained that he experienced "culture shock" working with people at Fox News who used profanity. Huckabee specifically lamented the use of foul language by women at the network calling it, "just trashy." Listen: