ABC News and CBS News helped potential GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney dredge up discredited attacks on Hillary Clinton in their reports on an upcoming speech by Romney. The attacks smear Clinton's diplomatic work with Russia as secretary of state and scandalize comments she made on trickle-down economics that were taken out of context by the media.
Reports from two news networks hyped excerpts from Romney's planned speech at Mississippi State University on Wednesday night that will be targeted at Clinton. Both ABC and CBS News articles uncritically reported that Romney will be criticizing Clinton's "clueless" efforts to "reset" U.S.-Russia relations during Mr. Obama's first term.
But the "reset" moment that media outlets frequently cite as the primary example of Clinton's dealings with Russia while serving as secretary of state does not accurately portray her tenure. Clinton's successful negotiations with Russia resulted in in an agreement that allows the "U.S. military planes to transport lethal materiel over Russia to Afghanistan," reducing reliance on Pakistan for transporting cargo. Clinton also expressed serious concerns with Russia's 2011 elections, and warned that Russia was trying to "re-Sovietize" Eastern Europe and that Vladimir Putin would attempt to consolidate Russian control over eastern Ukraine if the opportunity presented itself.
Both ABC and CBS also highlighted another misleading attack against Clinton from Romney's upcoming speech, where he will assert that Clinton "doesn't know where jobs come from in the first place," an apparent reference to a scandal invented by the media over Clinton's statement that tax breaks for the rich don't cause companies to create jobs. CBS portrayed Clinton's remarks on tax breaks for the rich as a slip-up:
In his speech text, Romney takes a swipe at Hillary Clinton for telling voters during the 2014 midterm campaign, "Don't let anybody tell you it's corporations and businesses that create jobs."
"How can Secretary Clinton provide opportunity for all if she doesn't know where jobs come from in the first place?" Romney is expected to ask. "We need a president who will do what it takes to bring more good paying jobs to the placement offices of our college campuses."
After her remarks sparked a round of mockery from her opponents on the right, Clinton claimed she misspoke and said she meant to say that the economy grows when companies create good-paying jobs in America, "not when we hand out tax breaks for corporations that outsource jobs or stash their profits overseas."
This attack on Clinton's remarks, omits crucial context used by right-wing media outlets to scandalize the comments. The full context shows that Clinton's statement was in reference to tax breaks for the rich, and argued that trickle-down economics is not successful at creating jobs (emphasis added):
CLINTON: Don't let anybody tell you that raising the minimum wage will kill jobs. They always say that. I've been through this. My husband gave working families a raise in the 1990s. I voted to raise the minimum wage and guess what? Millions of jobs were created or paid better and more families were more secure. That's what we want to see here, and that's what we want to see across the country.
And don't let anybody tell you, that, you know, it's corporations and businesses that create jobs. You know, that old theory, trickle-down economics. That has been tried. That has failed. That has failed rather spectacularly.
One of the things my husband says, when people say, what did you bring to Washington? He says, well I brought arithmetic. And part of it was he demonstrated why trickle down should be consigned to the trash bin of history. More tax cuts for the top and for companies that ship jobs over seas while taxpayers and voters are stuck paying the freight just doesn't add up.
Fox News host Bill O'Reilly falsely claimed that he had no role in hyping the myth that Muslim "no-go zones" exist throughout France, just days after Fox News apologized for spreading the fiction. In fact, O'Reilly previously cited the so called "no-go zones" as one of the contributing causes of the Paris terror attacks.
On January 17, Fox correspondent Julie Banderas apologized for the network's coverage "regarding the Muslim population in Europe" in the days following the terrorist attacks in Paris, explaining that there is no credible evidence to support the existence of Muslim "no-go zones." Several other Fox hosts offered additional apologies throughout the day.
On the January 20 edition of The O'Reilly Factor, during a discussion about the Parisian mayor Anne Hildalgo's announcement that she intends to sue Fox News for its "prejudiced" coverage following the attacks, O'Reilly denied that the Fox apology was about the Muslim "no-go zone" myth in France. He insisted that it was only about Steve Emerson's ludicrous claim that the entire English city of Birmingham was Muslim-only and nobody else went to the city. O'Reilly also denied that he had anything to do with the "no-go zones" claim (emphasis added):
O'REILLY: All right, we got a minute. The mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, said she's going to sue Fox News for reporting on so-called no-go zones in Paris. They're dominated by Muslims and police hesitate to go in there -- at least that has been the reportage in some places. I didn't have anything to do with this. But I will point out that the mayor is a socialist.
But on January 9, O'Reilly cited Muslim "no-go zones" in France as a cause behind the terror attacks in Paris (emphasis added):
O'REILLY: France brought a lot of this terrorism on itself. We just talked about the no-go zones that they allow. They allow, 10 percent of the population is Muslim. They are all in there, they're radicalized, they don't assimilate.
UPDATE: O'Reilly also claimed that Fox News "isn't even seen in France, because they block it." But The Washington Post's Erik Wemple reports that a Fox spokesperson confirmed that the network reaches 13,680 homes in France but has a limited reach because it is only available in English and broadcasts on a U.S.-based schedule.
Fox News contributor and radio talk show host Erick Erickson declared that "the terrorists won in Atlanta" after right-wing media falsely claimed that Atlanta's anti-gay fire chief was terminated for his religious beliefs.
On January 6, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed dismantled conservatives' claims that Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran was fired over a book that he wrote which contains anti-gay remarks, explaining that Cochran's lack of judgment in distributing the book to his employees, and not following instructions regarding his month-long suspension over publishing the book without notice to the city, is what led to his termination.
On January 7, hours after a horrific terrorist attack against staffers of the satirical French magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris that left 12 people dead, Erickson wrote a blog post that likened the LGBT community to terrorists for objecting to the former Atlanta fire chief's book, and stated that "the terrorists won":
A publisher published something that offended. It mocked, it offended, and it showed the fallacy of a religion. It angered.
So the terrorists decided they needed to publicly destroy and ruin the publisher in a way that would not only make that destruction a public spectacle, but do it so spectacularly that others would think twice before publishing or saying anything similar.
The terrorist wants to sow fear. The destruction of an individual is not just meant to be a tool of vengeance, but a tool of instruction. It shows others what will happen to them if they dare do the same. It is generates self-regulating peer pressure. Others, fearing the fall out, will being to self-police and self-regulate. They will silence others on behalf of the terrorists. Out of fear, they will drive the ideas from the public square and society will make them off limits.
So they demanded the Mayor of Atlanta fire the Chief of the Fire Department for daring to write that his first duty was to "glory God" and that any sex outside of heterosexual marriage was a sin.
And the terrorists won in Atlanta.
Bill O'Reilly interviewed former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke about GOP Rep. Steve Scalise's address to a white supremacist group in a segment Duke turned into a bizarre defense of his reputation.
Scalise, who has a leadership position in the GOP as the House Majority Whip, has apologized for speaking to a white supremacist conference in 2002. Conservative media are divided on whether Scalise is a victim of the media, or made a mistake serious enough for him to resign his leadership post.
During his January 5 Fox News appearance, Duke denied he was ever a white supremacist, insisting that his organization, the European-American Unity and Rights Organization (EURO), was "a chartered human rights organization," and described affirmative action programs as racially discriminatory. Duke gave cover to Scalise, insisting that he can't be sure if Scalise ever addressed his organization. O'Reilly pushed back against Duke's insistence that he was never a white supremacist, saying "don't sit here and tell me that you're not trying to promote the cause of the white people, because you are."
As the interview ended, Duke held up a picture of President Obama labeled "Communist Terrorist Murderer."
Duke also appeared on CNN on January 3, where Michael Smerconish pressed him to acknowledge that the Holocaust occurred.
Watch the interview below:
Right-wing media websites continued to undermine their credibility in 2014 by peddling a number of false, ridiculous, and bigoted smears. Here are the top smears from conservative websites The Daily Caller, Breitbart.com, and The Washington Free Beacon.
Fox News personalities co-opted a fatal hostage situation in Sydney, Australia to justify torturing terror suspects.
Conservative media celebrated the effectiveness of torture in response to news that the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee would release its report on the Central Intelligence Agency's (CIA) detention and interrogation program, attacking the Senate for releasing the report and disputing the report's findings. Military and interrogation experts have emphasized that torture is an ineffective interrogation technique, and human rights groups support the release of the report.
Fox News aired less than 30 seconds of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio's press conference following a grand jury decision not to indict a police officer for the choking death of Eric Garner. The speech ran nearly 17 minutes and was aired in full by CNN and MSNBC.
On December 3, a New York City grand jury voted not to bring criminal charges against a police officer accused in the choking death of Garner who died after being arrested for allegedly selling loose cigarettes. An earlier autopsy by New York City's medical examiner ruled that Garner's death "was a homicide resulting from the chokehold and the compression of his chest by police officers."
Mayor Bill de Blasio addressed the decision during a press conference in Staten Island on December 3. The Mayor's speech, which lasted nearly 17 minutes, attempted to calm racial tensions in the city.
On November 21, the Republican-led House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence released the findings of its investigation into the September 2012 attacks on two U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya, debunking many right-wing media myths about the attacks. Despite the fact that this is just the latest of several reports that clear Obama administration officials of any wrongdoing, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) reappointed Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) to lead a special committee in furtherance of the right-wing Benghazi hoax.
Fox News host Megyn Kelly undermined months of claims from her network peers when she admitted to guest Jennice Fuentes that President Obama's upcoming executive action does not constitute "amnesty." Kelly, who has herself used the "amnesty" label to discuss the president's coming order, acknowledged that the term is a dog whistle conservative media have exploited to stoke opposition to immigration reform.
Obama is set to announce a new set of executive actions that will allow as many as 5 million undocumented immigrants to apply for protection from deportation based on the time they have been in the U.S. and their family ties.
On the November 19 edition of The Kelly File, Kelly acknowledged that the president is not actually pursuing "amnesty," because "amnesty is citizenship and that's not what [Obama] is talking about." Kelly also explained how conservatives purposely misuse the word "amnesty" for political gain: "That's a hot-button term that the right uses to sort of get people upset."
Kelly has invoked amnesty to warn against the action, as recently as July. According to Nexis transcripts of the July 30 edition of The Kelly File, Kelly said that Obama may be preparing to "drop a bomb like amnesty for 5 million illegal immigrants."
KELLY: And we should tell the viewers that this Democratic push saying they're gonna impeach him, they're gonna impeach him is working. They pulled in two million dollars just over the past weekend by these blast e-mail alerts saying impeachment. But the question is, I mean, Boehner came out today and said we're not gonna impeach him. OK? So, just stop that. However, what's true today may not be true tomorrow. And there's a report over the weekend from the Associated Press suggesting the president may be getting ready to use an executive action to basically give amnesty or some sort of massive provision for up to 5 million illegal immigrants in this country. And what would that do?
KELLY: Joining us now with more is Andy McCarthy, author of Faithless Execution, Building the Political Case for Obama's Impeachment. And let me just start, I want to get to the book and the controversy over the word impeachment and how people circle this back to you in a minute. But the notion that the president would come out, sort of get people -- the Democrats would come out and get people saying, impeachment, that's crazy. What -- that's crazy. Impeachment, come on. And then drop a bomb like amnesty for 5 million illegal immigrants to set the Republicans up to then say, now that's impeachable, but they've already laid the foundation for how crazy the notion of impeachment is. I mean, if that's what's actually happening here, pretty sophisticated political strategy, is it not?
KELLY: So, if the president wants to go ahead, if he's confident now he's not gonna get impeached because of everything we've discussed, what do you think would happen if he granted amnesty for five million people?
For months, Fox has labeled the president's plan amnesty. On November 13, Fox host Bill O'Reilly said Obama's executive action "is essentially an amnesty for millions of people." Earlier in the month, Fox host Sean Hannity said that "immigration law does not allow for the amnesty that the president wants to grant." In early August, Fox co-host Jedediah Bila called Obama's plan "executive amnesty to millions of people."