In a July 2, 2008 campaign speech in Colorado, Obama called for the expansion of service organizations such as AmeriCorp and the Peace Corps, along with America's Foreign Service. During his speech, Obama said:
OBAMA: We cannot continue to rely only on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives that we've set. We've got to have a civilian national security force that's just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded.
Obama's call for more involvement in civic service organizations was distorted by Fox and the right-wing media, who employed inflammatory rhetoric such as claiming Obama wanted to build a "civilian army" that would be part of the president's "thugocracy" and is "what Hitler did with the SS." Even Fox News CEO Roger Ailes was reportedly concerned that Obama's comments meant he "wanted to create a national police force."
On the April 20 edition of Fox & Friends Sunday, co-host Kelly Wright dredged up the smear while discussing Bundy and his armed standoff with members of the federal government, claiming Obama was "telling Americans that the U.S. needs to beef up its domestic police force. And with the recent raid of Cliven Bundy's Nevada ranch, well, his push for a stronger domestic militia could be fulfilled."
Fox figures praised armed supporters of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy as good, patriotic, hard-working Americans, ignoring their threats of violence against Bureau of Land Management (BLM) agents and indications that they were willing to put women in children in the line of fire.
Fox News' Gretchen Carlson continued to push a misleading report on IRS communication with the Department of Justice while failing to acknowledge that a previous "bombshell" claim she had made about the report had been corrected.
On the April 16 edition of Fox News' The Real Story, Carlson hyped a Townhall.com report by Fox contributor Katie Pavlich that incorrectly claimed IRS official Lois Lerner "contacted the Department of Justice" to ask about possible criminal investigation of tax-exempt groups. Echoing the report, Carlson asserted that "bombshell emails" show "Lerner contacted her bosses at the IRS and the Department of Justice in May 2013 asking about whether tax-exempt groups could be criminally prosecuted for lying about political activity":
Carlson failed to note that at the time of her broadcast, Pavlich's report had been updated and corrected to note that it was the Department of Justice, not Lerner, who initiated contact:
Editors note/correction: A previous version of this post stated and implied Lois Lerner contacted the DOJ about criminal prosecution when the emails state she in fact got a phone call from DOJ about the issue. While she was clearly in contact with DOJ about criminal prosecution for tax exempt groups, DOJ initiated the contact in this specific instance. Emails also show Lerner and Flax responded to both recommendations by Senator Whitehouse and DOJ to look into criminal prosecution. The headline to this post has also been updated.
Carlson again discussed the emails during the April 17 edition of The Real Story, noting that she "first reported them here on the show yesterday," but she failed to correct her false claim from the day before that Lerner "contacted" the Department of Justice. Carlson also failed to mention that the emails show Lerner's concern that criminal prosecutions of tax-exempt groups that misrepresent their political activity is "not realistic under current law":
From the April 14 edition of Fox News' Hannity:
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The desert tortoise has become a symbolic scapegoat for right-wing media figures running defense for an anti-government cattle rancher who's threatening to wage a range war against federal law enforcement officers.
Conflict has erupted in Nevada between the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the family and supporters of rancher Cliven Bundy, a man who has refused multiple court orders to remove his cattle from public land. Bundy has stated that he does not recognize federal law and in fact argued in court in 1998 that the United States government didn't own the land in question (he lost). Now BLM officers and contract cowboys have begun confiscating Bundy's herd. And the scofflaw rancher has emerged as a right-wing folk hero after repeatedly stating that he owns firearms and is willing to "do whatever it takes to gain our liberty and freedom back."
At the center of the controversy -- according to right-wing media figures -- is the formerly endangered (and still threatened) desert tortoise. When Bundy's grazing rights were modified by BLM in 1993, it was in part to protect the species, which inhabits the same publicly-owned desert areas trodden by Bundy's cattle and was at the time on the brink of extinction.
That's where the connection to the tortoise ends, however. In 1993, Bundy began refusing to pay grazing fees required by the new rules. This led to an escalating series of reprisals from the judicial system that culminated in an order to confiscate Bundy's cattle in order to repay $1 million in fines and fees that over 20 years later remained unpaid. The current enforcement has less to do with protecting the tortoise, and more to do with Bundy's refusal to comply with the law or recognize the legitimacy of the federal government.
Nevertheless, right-wing supporters of Bundy's stand have tried to pin the conflict on the tortoise and the Endangered Species Act (ESA), which is being depicted in negative terms ranging from being dismissed as irrelevant and economically harmful to becoming the basis for conspiracy theories about unlawful land grabs by Big Government.
On Fox, the situation afforded the network the opportunity to perpetuate the conservative narrative that the ESA unjustly puts the rights of wildlife above the rights of people. One host declared, "We're not anti-turtle, but we are pro-logic and tradition." His co-host sarcastically (and inaccurately) described the government's position as "get the cows off so they can have the desert tortoise live there in peace."
David Blackmon, a Forbes contributor, penned a piece titled, "Using Snipers To Protect A Tortoise." (It's since been taken down, but cached here). In it, Blackmon argued that protecting the desert tortoise was merely a pretext being used by the government "with the clear expectation of running the Bundys off the land entirely."
As evidence that the protection of the tortoise is a scam, some in conservative media have pointed to the Bureau of Land Management itself, claiming it's been euthanizing tortoises and/or "planting" them in the desert in order to make a case that they're endangered.
In fact, a BLM tortoise conservancy in Nevada was forced to shut down due to budget cuts. Prior to its closure, the Desert Tortoise Conservation Center had to make the difficult decision to put down the tortoises that carried disease or were too feeble to survive on their own. The others were released back into the wild.
But despite how real the concerns about the future of desert tortoise may be, the reality is that the right-wing media is simply providing cover to a rancher who refuses to obey the law.
Right-wing media responded to news that Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is resigning by lobbing personal attacks against the secretary and demonizing health care reform.
Fox News baselessly claimed that the Obama administration plans to give up control of a key Internet administrator to the United Nations,ignoring Obama administration officials' repeated insistence that it will not let a governmental organization run the agency.
On the April 10 edition of Fox's America's Newsroom, guest co-host Gregg Jarrett claimed that the Obama administration was to "give up" direct oversight of the Internet and "transfer control to an international body controlled by foreign governments." Guest Jordan Sekulow agreed, claiming that the Obama administration plans to cede control of the Internet to the U.N.'s International Telecommunication Union (ITU). Jarrett advanced Fox's previous distortion of the plan, falsely suggesting that nations like China and Russia may now be able to control the Internet and that the plan would lead to the U.N. taxing the Internet. Sekulow agreed, saying that the ITU "is run by dictators" and "authoritative regimes."
But there is no evidence to support Jarrett's claim that the U.S. intends to give control of ICANN, the agency that administers the Internet's Domain Name System (DNS), to the ITU. In a March 14 press release, the Commerce Department's National Telecommunications & Information Administration (NTIA) announced it will proceed with a 1998 plan to transition U.S. control over ICANN to a multi-stakeholder body, explicitly stating that "NTIA will not accept a proposal that replaces the NTIA role with a government-led or an inter-governmental organization solution."
In his April 10 congressional testimony, Commerce Department assistant secretary Lawrence Strickling reaffirmed the U.S. government's commitment that no government or inter-governmental body would control ICANN [emphasis added]:
STRICKLING: We need to ensure that the broad Internet community--companies, technical groups, civil society and governments--continue to work together as equal partners in crafting the rules of the road for the Internet through the multistakeholder model. Some authoritarian regimes however do not accept this model and seek to move Internet governance issues, including the DNS, into the United Nations system in order to exert influence and control over the Internet.
Some have argued that what NTIA is doing is tantamount to "giving away the Internet".That could not be further from the truth. There is no one party--government or industry,including the U.S. Government--that controls the Internet. The Internet is a decentralize dnetwork of networks. What we have in fact done, is demonstrate leadership and strategic vision by laying out a framework with clear conditions to finalize a process that has been ongoing for 16 years.
With the March 14 announcement, NTIA has taken the next step in the 16-year process to privatize the coordination and management of the DNS. ICANN last month began the process of convening stakeholders for the first of many public discussions on this topic. During this period, NTIA's role will remain unchanged. As we have said repeatedly, we will not accept a transition plan that would replace the NTIA role with one led by governments or an inter-governmental organizationand we have established a framework of four principles that the process must address. This must be a careful and thoughtful process. If a plan that meets these criteria cannot be implemented by September 30, 2015, we can extend the contract for up to four years.
Further, Internet experts have stated that the U.S. plan to relinquish control of ICANN actually weakens the power of the ITU. Politico quoted Nick Ashton-Hart, the Geneva representative for the Computer & Communications Industry Association and a former ICANN official, as saying that "If the U.S. was to try and maintain the master key, it would have been more likely to result in the fragmentation of the Internet," because other countries could claim a similar role. Politico also quoted Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va.) stating that if the federal government hadn't relinquished its oversight, the ITU could continue to argue that ICANN functioned as a pawn for the U.S. government.
Fox News presented Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) with a friendly platform to continue attacking Attorney General Eric Holder, selectively cropping footage of the men's altercation during a House Judiciary Committee hearing to absolve the congressman of blame.
Sparks flew at a House Judiciary Committee oversight hearing when Gohmert accused Holder of indifference about previously being held in contempt by the House over the Fast & Furious gun operation. Holder responded that Gohmert "didn't want to go there" and explained that while the House contempt vote was "inappropriate," he took it seriously.
Fox ran defense for the Republican congressman during the April 9 segment of Fox & Friends, misrepresenting Gohmert's remarks that led to the exchange and selectively edited clips of the hearing to omit Gohmert's initial comments and the bulk of Holder's response.
Rather than admitting Gohmert's accusation towards Holder, co-host Brian Kilmeade simply claimed, "Texas congressman Louie Gohmert struck a nerve, obviously, when he referenced pending contempt charges against Attorney General Eric Holder. Watch."
When Gohmert joined the program to continue attacking Holder, Kilmeade propped up the congressman's claims: "Basically, the attorney general is able to say 'get away, leave me alone,' and get away with it."
The full video of the hearing reveals that Gohmert accused the DOJ of giving documents to terrorist front groups before lobbing personal attacks at Holder, prompting Holder to respond that the contempt vote was "inappropriate" and "all about the gun lobby":
HOLDER: I think that what we promised to do is to provide you and your staff with --
GOHMERT: Sir, I've read you what your department promised and it is inadequate, and I realize that contempt is not a big deal to our attorney general, but it is important that we have proper oversight, so--
HOLDER: You don't want to go there, ok?
GOHMERT: I don't want to go there?
GOHMERT: About the contempt?
HOLDER: You should not assume that that is not a big deal to me. I think that it was inappropriate, I think it was unjust. But never think that was not a big deal to me. Don't ever think that.
GOHMERT: Well, I'm just looking for evidence, and normally we're known by our fruits, and there have been no indications that it was a big deal because your department has still not been forthcoming in producing the documents that were the subject of the contempt. Let me move on -
HOLDER: The documents that we were prepared to make available then, we are prepared to make available now. That would have obviated the whole need. This was all about the gun lobby. And a desire to have --
This isn't the first time Fox News has dishonestly framed a segment in order to attack the attorney general: the network has a long history of distorting the truth around Holder's statements to baselessly attack him.
From the April 8 edition of Fox News' Hannity:
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From the March 17 edition of Fox News' Happening Now:
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Fox News falsely claimed that a plan in place since 1998 to govern control of Internet domain names means President Obama is giving away the Internet.
From the March 6 edition of Fox News' The Kelly File:
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From the March 5 edition of CNN's Erin Burnett OutFront:
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Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) publicly admitted that his dogged investigation into the IRS may be at a "dead end" given a former IRS official's refusal to testify, but you won't hear that on Fox News.
The Republican chairman of the House Oversight Committee called on former IRS official Lois Lerner to testify on March 5 in yet another hearing on the IRS' inappropriate targeting of organizations seeking tax exempt status. For the second time, Lerner testified that she would invoke her Fifth Amendment rights and not answer the committee's questions.
Speaking to reporters after the hearing, Issa articulated that his investigation into the IRS could "dead end" given Lerner's refusal to testify. As Talking Points Memo reported:
Issa was asked how bad of a setback Wednesday's hearing was for the investigation.
"As you can see from our questioning today, we have continued to gather facts around Ms. Lerner's absence of testimony," Issa replied. "It would have allowed us to bring this investigation to a -- probably pretty quick close if she had been willing to answers those questions. Without it we will undoubtably [sic] have a few more questions to try to find out things that she could have answered quickly today."
A reporter than asked Issa if he was still "confident" the investigation would "get to the bottom of this."
"It may well be we have gotten to the bottom of it," Issa said. "At this point, roads lead to Ms. Lerner. The witness who to took the Fifth. That becomes -- she becomes one of the key characters at this point. Had she been willing to explain those emails which were provided through separate subpoenas, then we could have perhaps brought this to a close. Without that, it may dead end with Ms. Lerner."
Fox News was quick to hype Issa's hearing, but not nearly so quick to acknowledge the congressman's admission that his IRS investigation might be over.
Summarizing the House hearing that evening on Special Report, Fox correspondent Mike Emanuel concluded, "At this point, Issa seems prepared to move forward with the IRS investigation without hearing from Lerner":
The right-wing's Benghazi scandal-mongering entered the realm of self-parody after Fox News let Sen. Lindsey Graham blame the Russian invasion of Ukraine on the Obama administration's handling of the 2012 attacks in Libya -- the latest attempt in a series of conservative alchemy experiments trying to turn tragedy into political gold.
On March 4, Sen. Graham (R-SC) tweeted that the crisis in Ukraine "started with Benghazi," blaming the Obama administration's response to the attacks for 'inviting' aggression from Russia.
Graham made the same accusation on March 3 during Fox News' On The Record with Greta Van Susteren. At Van Susteren's prompting, Graham claimed that the Russian aggression in Ukraine "in many ways started with Benghazi, when our consulate was overrun and our first ambassador was killed in thirty-something years in the line of duty ... You're sending absolutely the wrong signal to our foes."
VAN SUSTEREN: I can't tell whether you ripped the president more on foreign policy or the Washington Post Editorial Board when they described it fantasy. But you said that the president has a weak and indecisive policy that invites aggression.
GRAHAM: Right. This is a symptom of greater problem. It really, in many ways, started with Benghazi, when our consulate was overrun and our first ambassador was killed in thirty-something years in the line of duty. Three other brave Americans died and not one person has been held accountable. You're sending absolutely the wrong signal to our foes around the country.
The bizarre claim was swiftly ridiculed, but it didn't even seem to register with the Fox host. That's hardly surprising -- right-wing attempts to smear political opponents with Benghazi attacks have been disconnected from reality for some time.