Fox News' Bill Hemmer cited an unnamed report to continue the network's dishonest attacks on the Affordable Care Act by claiming that HealthCare.gov may cost taxpayers over $1 billion -- an assertion that overstated the actual cost by more than $700 million.
On the October 25 edition of Fox's America's Newsroom, host Hemmer asked whether HealthCare.gov, the website established under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to connect Americans with health insurance exchanges, would be "the first billion-dollar website?" Hemmer then told contributor Katie Pavlich, "Government keeps throwing money after problems which shows you how government gets fat and very, very expensive," before concluding, "These people have lost their minds." The on-screen text read, "Rpt: Final Obamacare Website Costs Could Top $1 Billion."
However, as reported in a Washington Post fact-check, yesterday's congressional hearings regarding the ACA website revealed that government contracts to create the website amounted to a total value of less than $300 million. According to The Washington Post:
In the testimony, a reference was made to the fact that the TCV (total contract value) was $292 million. That is the least important number, as in effect it is like a credit card limit. What is more important is what has been already spent or obligated.
To sum up: The floor for spending on the Web site to date appears to be at least $170 million, with an upward potential of nearly $300 million.
While neither Hemmer nor Pavlich revealed the source of the report they were using to make their claims, a Media Matters search found only a Newsmax article with a similar contention. That article in turn referenced a report from Bloomberg Government. But according to Bloomberg, their study covered "all health law-related contract awards to the firms since the ACA was enacted in March 2010," not just the those related to the ACA website. That study may also be overstating the costs, considering "it assumed that most recent IT awards by the Department of Health and Human Services are ACA-related because the law's implementation has consumed an increasing share of the department's time and resources."
Fox is doubling down on misleading its viewers about the costs of the ACA -- almost literally. It was previously called out for inflating HealthCare.gov's costs to $634 million.
Fox News cut away from President Obama's speech on immigration reform while MSNBC and CNN did not. Instead of covering the president's speech, Fox chose to return to its nearly two-hour-long coverage of House Republicans' committee hearing on Healthcare.gov glitches.
While MSNBC, CNN, and Fox News all covered the beginning of President Obama's speech on immigration reform live, Fox News promptly cut away after only two minutes and forty seconds to take a commercial break before returning to its nearly-two-hour-long coverage of House Republicans' hearing on the glitches affecting Healthcare.gov. MSNBC and CNN aired the less-than-10-minute speech in its entirety.
When Fox's America's Newsroom returned from break, co-host Bill Hemmer brought the focus back to the congressional hearings, mentioning Obama's immigration speech only to theorize that it was planned to distract from the hearing "going on right down the road."
Hemmer must have forgotten that Fox frequently cuts away from remarks given by the president -- often using trivial news stories as an excuse -- when he accused Obama of attempting to distract from the House's hearing.
During a discussion of the latest jobs report, The Wall Street Journal's Stephen Moore ignored the prominent role sequestration cuts played in depressing job growth, choosing instead to make the reality-defying claim that sequestration has in fact been a boon to the economy.
On October 22, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released its monthly unemployment report for September. According to the report, payrolls rose by 148,000, while the unemployment rate dropped from 7.3 to 7.2 percent. Those positive gains, a welcome change from losses sustained after the financial crisis, nonetheless fell short of expectations that 180,000 to 200,000 jobs would be created in September.
WSJ's Moore reacted to the jobs report during an interview with Fox News host Jenna Lee on Happening Now. He claimed the numbers represented an economy in "stagnation" that is "middling at best" and "kind of limping forward." Lee followed up, asking whether automatic spending cuts known as sequestration were to blame. Moore responded:
MOORE: Well first of all, I think the sequester has been very good for the economy, not bad. When you cut government spending, that frees up resources for private businesses. So the sequester has been, in my opinion, a very positive force and it's bringing down the deficit in spending.
Moore's cheerleading of sequestration while complaining about an under-performing economy is ironic because the slowdown of the recovery has been caused in large part by the sequester, which, according to Yahoo! Finance, is "finally dinging the economy":
Forecasting firm MacroEconomic Advisers has lowered its second-quarter forecast for GDP growth from 1.8% to 1.3%. That's very weak growth that will probably hold back hiring and spending, and depress confidence. "The sequester is expected to slow growth this year, and largely accounts for the weak second-quarter growth and lackluster third-quarter growth," the firm said in a recent report.
Pullbacks in the job market seem likely during the next few months. After five straight months of improvements, small businesses surveyed by the National Federation for Independent Business curtailed hiring in May. The latest jobs report from ADP showed private-sector firms created about 30,000 fewer jobs than expected in May, with companies hiring at a pace too slow to bring down the unemployment rate. Manufacturing activity, which is directly affected by federal spending on defense contractors, has fallen below the level generally considered to be recessionary.
Tony Nash of forecasting firm IHS warned recently on CNBC that the effects of the sequester should build as the year goes on. Even the Federal Reserve mentioned the sequester in its latest "beige book" report on regional economic conditions, citing concerns about defense-industry cutbacks in the Cleveland and Richmond regions.
According to the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis, the sequester has impacted job growth throughout the country. CNN recently confirmed an earlier report that the sequester has slowed economic growth. Worse still, an October 2013 report by the Bipartisan Policy Center found that the "full brunt of the [sequester] cuts hasn't hit yet, and if we go down the sequester path for too long, we won't be able to reverse the devastating impacts."
Furthermore, repealing the sequester would stimulate the economy. According to an analysis by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), canceling sequestration would increase the United States' Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by $113 billion and generate 900,000 new jobs, which the Economic Policy Institute noted, is "a number akin to 40 percent of the total number of jobs created over the last twelve months."
Moore's ignorance is not new. He previously claimed that sequestration was a "success" free of "negative consequences," a sentiment echoed throughout the right wing media. Instead of spending cuts, Moore would do well to turn his attention to job creation.
Right-wing media dishonestly accused President Obama and the Justice Department of "McCarthyism," "extortion," and carrying out a "vendetta" against JPMorgan Chase (JPM) after the two parties reached an historic $13 billion settlement over the company's role in the 2008 financial crisis. The attacks characterized the settlement as politicized "medieval justice," excusing JPM's responsibility for its own alleged wrongdoing and those of Bear Stearns and Washington Mutual -- two entities which played a large role in the collapse that were later acquired by JPM.
Fox News' Carl Cameron highlighted a misleading attack ad by Virginia GOP gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli while simultaneously smearing his opponent, Terry McAuliffe, as having "had character questions for decades."
During an October 18 report on Happening Now, Cameron aired a portion of a new Cuccinelli campaign ad which portrayed McAuliffe as a "corrupt insider" by attempting to link him to Joseph Caramadre, a Rhode Island businessman who recently pleaded guilty to wire fraud. Cameron claimed that Cuccinelli has "been battling really hard" and "making sure that voters get all the goriest details about scandals that are currently under investigation related to this Democratic nominee."
Cameron did not provide any context for the ad, failing to point out that McAuliffe was only one of dozens of passive investors with Caramadre -- a group that includes a police chief, a state supreme court justice, and a Catholic priest. In fact, according to the Associated Press, "There is no allegation of wrongdoing by McAuliffe or that he or other investors knew of efforts to defraud the terminally ill."
Cuccinelli has faced his own questions regarding the ethicality of his conduct while Virginia Attorney General, something Cameron omitted.
Cameron would do well to turn a critical eye toward Cuccinelli's attacks on McAuliffe. A Washington Post fact check of a previous Cuccinelli ad found, "From what is publicly known, there are no federal inquiries directly into McAuliffe's conduct. It would be a stretch to say otherwise."
Photo Credit: Tyler Hansen.
Fox News offered the Republican Party advice on how they might recover from the GOP-led government shutdown that damaged the images of both Republicans and the tea party and caused at least $24 billion in economic harm.
Late in the evening of October 16, the federal government reopened after a 16-day shutdown, which began after Republicans in Congress refused to pass any bill to fund the government if it included funding for the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Republican tea party members of Congress like Sen. Ted Cruz led the shutdown effort, which according to The New York Times was conceived by conservative activists months in advance. After two weeks, Standard and Poor's estimated the shutdown cost the U.S. economy $24 billion, and the company reduced its forecast for economic growth as a result. And this cost is still climbing.
Following the shutdown, Republican party approval ratings plummeted to all-time lows, while the percentage of Americans with an unfavorable opinion of the tea party is at an all-time high. According to NBC News, 53 percent of Americans blame the GOP for the shutdown, versus 31 percent who blame the president -- a 22-point spread. Those numbers have led some political analysts to predict the GOP may lose its House majority in the upcoming mid-term elections.
Fox News responded by launching into damage-control mode. On the October 17 edition of The Real Story with Gretchen Carlson, Carlson and Fox contributor Rich Lowry attempted to advise the GOP on ways it could "get its mojo back" after the shutdown debacle.
Ironically, Fox is attempting to clean up a mess they helped create -- the network was instrumental in the creation of the tea party, and its own pundits cheered on the shutdown-strategy both before and after its implementation.
After urging Republicans to shut down the government in an effort to defund the Affordable Care Act (also known as the ACA or Obamacare), conservative media figures are selectively outraged at some consequences of the government shutdown.
The Boston Globe's Mattias Gugel covers political issues like Sen. Elizabeth Warren's (D-MA) reaction to the ongoing government shutdown and the tea party -- but he also has a right-wing resume and is a self-described "staunch conservative."
On October 2, Gugel authored an article highlighting which staff members in Sen. Elizabeth Warren's office were furloughed due to the on-going government shutdown -- a shutdown led by conservative Republicans in the House that Warren has argued against. Gugel wrote:
Despite the government shutdown, Bay Staters seeking to contact most members of the Massachusetts delegation in Washington can still reach a staffer by phone, with the exception of Senator Elizabeth Warren's office .
Warren, a Democrat, determined that having staff answer phone calls is not an essential part of her office's job during a shutdown, leaving constituents to go to voice mail when they call to give their opinion or to seek services or assistance.
Also on October 2, Gugel wrote an article for the Globe centered on congressional tea partiers' reactions to the shutdown -- characterizing them as "combative, defiant, defensive, and resolute."
But Gugel has previously been vocal about his support for tea party Republicans and once wrote in their defense that, "Bipartisanship ended during the glorious reign of President Barack Obama."
Gugel also previously worked as an intern for U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) and as a staff assistant for State Sen. Joe Leibham (R-WI). He praised a list of "leading conservatives" from Wisconsin that included Republicans Rep. Paul Ryan and Gov. Scott Walker, and hoped that, "someday my name might be added to that list."
Gugel, who once described himself as "a pretty staunch conservative all around," believes that Obama's 2012 re-election campaign slogan "Forward" is a Marxist code-word aimed at "diehard liberals because of these socialist connotations":
The president's approach to this problem is evident in the radical imagery the new slogan invokes. Leftists have historically used the word as a rallying cry for progress, and many Marxist publications were named "Forward" (or its foreign equivalents). And for those naysayers who think only conservatives believe Obama is a socialist, he himself chose the direct symbolism this time.
Photo Credit: Timothy Valentine via Flickr
In Sean Hannity's newest effort to blame Democrats for the ongoing government shutdown, the Fox News host amplified a right-wing distortion of an exchange between Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and CNN's Dana Bash to smear Reid as having an "angry, bitter" attitude toward children suffering from cancer.
CNN's Dana Bash asked Reid during an October 2 press conference if Democrats would be supportive of a House bill that would reinstate funding to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). That funding, which includes a program that provides access to clinical trials for children with cancer, was halted after House Republicans refused to pass a bill to fund government operations in an effort to derail the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
Bash then asked, "If you can help one child who has cancer, why wouldn't you do it?" Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) replied to Bash, "Why pit one against the other?" and Reid, who was critical of the Republican idea that Congress could "pick and choose" which parts of the government to fund, added, "Why would we want to do that? I have 1,100 people at Nellis Air Force base that are sitting home. They have a few problems of their own." Reid's comments referenced his push for a bill that would fund the entire government, including the NIH.
Hannity knocked Reid's comments as "partisanship at a really despicable level," before rhetorically asking Reid how he would feel if a member of his own family had been affected. Later in the show, Hannity claimed that, "Harry Reid says he wouldn't want to help one kid with cancer." At one point, Hannity accused Reid of being, "cold, callous, heartless, mean spirited, hateful," among other things:
HANNITY: All this casual cruelty of Harry Reid, he's going to subordinate literally compassion and decency for partisanship? He won't keep the parks open. He won't allow the vets to do go to World War II? He's not gonna fund the NIH even if it's gonna help one kid with cancer? I mean, that's pretty sick. What a twised, old -- I'm sorry.
Hannity's characterization of the exchange unfairly distorted Reid's remarks by ignoring the context in which they were made. Reid was not dismissing the idea of funding cancer treatment for children. Rather, he was dismissing the notion that that funding the NIH should be accomplished via a lone spending bill when it could instead be achieved with the passage of a "clean" continuing resolution that would fund the entire government -- a bill Republicans are refusing to pass. His question asking Reid how he'd feel if it affected his own family was particularly callous given the fact that Reid's wife is a cancer survivor.
Hannity's take on Reid's comments mirrored other right wing media figures' reactions, of which Politico's Dylan Byers wrote, "I can't imagine the intellectual leaps and bounds you'd have to go through to arrive at the conclusion that Sen. Reid doesn't care about cancer patients."
Hannity's efforts to shift blame for the government shutdown away from Republicans are laughable considering that he was one of conservative media's loudest cheerleaders of the shutdown strategy -- cheerleading that his own colleagues have acknowledged can lead to the very hyper-partisan congressional dysfunction that helped cause the shutdown in the first place.
Photo Credit: Center for American Progress Action Fund via Flickr
Fox News' Sean Hannity repeated the recent Fox talking point that President Obama was willing to negotiate with Iran, Syria, and other foreign actors, but refused to even speak with Republican members of Congress. In fact, the president has repeatedly emphasized his willingness to negotiate and recently spoke with Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) and other congressional leaders.
On the September 30 edition of Hannity, host Sean Hannity asked his guest. U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), about the President's willingness to work with Republicans to avoid a looming government shutdown over GOP efforts to defund the Affordable Care Act. Hannity said, "The president will talk to Syria, Iran, Vladimir Putin, but he won't talk to members of the House of Representatives or the U.S. Senate. Do I have that right?" Graham responded, "You got it right."
Hannity claimed Obama was unwilling to even "talk" with Republicans in Congress. In reality, Obama called Speaker Boehner and other GOP leaders earlier today. According to Reuters:
President Barack Obama urged House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner on Monday to back legislation to fund the government for six weeks and to vote on it quickly to avoid a government shutdown in hours.
The White House said Obama, in a phone call to the top Republican in Congress, asked Boehner to drop House Republican attempts to tie continued funding of the government to cutting money for Obama's signature healthcare law, the central obstacle holding up an agreement.
Despite Hannity's claim, Obama's call to congressional leaders was even reported in his show's on-screen text:
And though the text describes the news as "Breaking News," Reuters reported on the call over an hour before Hannity aired.
OBAMA: I'm always willing to work with anyone of either party to make sure the Affordable Care Act works better, to make sure our government works better. I'm always willing to work with anyone to grow our economy faster, or to create new jobs faster, to get our fiscal house in order for the long run. I've demonstrated this time and time again, oftentimes to the consternation of my own party.