Fox & Friends uncritically parroted debunked allegations made by Republican activist and strategist Peter Schweizer in his book Clinton Cash in order to falsely suggest wrong-doing at Hillary Clinton's State Department regarding the Uranium One deal that gave the Russian government ownership of U.S. uranium mines.
During a June 21 interview on WMUR's CloseUP with Josh McElveen, Hillary Clinton shut down Schweizer's false claims made in Clinton Cash that the former secretary of state had pushed through the Uranium One deal after the Clinton Foundation received donations from stakeholders in the deal, noting that the claims had "no basis" behind them. Peter Schweizer responded in a June 22 op-ed for The New York Post, suggesting that Clinton's interview showed "grave incompetence or brazen dishonesty" and doubling-down on his assertion of a quid pro quo in the Russian uranium deal. Schweizer called Clinton's statement "an admission of extreme executive negligence," and said it "strains credulity."
Fox News parroted Schweizer's attacks on Clinton during the June 23 edition of Fox & Friends. Asking whether Clinton's involvement in the Uranium One deal was evidence of "incompetence" or "deceit," host Elisabeth Hasselbeck speculated that donations to the Clinton Foundation may have influenced the outcome of the deal. Reciting Schweizer's talking points, Hasselbeck called into question Clinton's statement that nine government agencies were involved in approving the deal:
ED HENRY: As you can imagine, Peter Schweizer, the author of Clinton Cash, believes that was pointed at him when she said that there was a partisan axe that was dealt here. So he's got an op-ed in the New York Post today.
HASSELBECK: Yeah, and it said this, quote 'The transfer of 20% of U.S. uranium -- the stuff used to build nuclear weapons -- to Vladimir Putin did not rise to the level of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's time and attention? Beyond being an admission of extreme executive negligence on an issue of utmost national security, Hillary's statement strains credulity to the breaking point for at least three other reasons.' And those three are this: at least nine of the investors who profited from that uranium deal collectively donated $145 million to the Clinton Foundation. Okay, one of them happened to go globe trotting with her husband and donated $100 million in pledges there. The second point that would bring up, and his third, is that Clinton said that there were nine government agencies. Okay, so she's correct in saying that who signed off on the deal. She forgets to mention that her State Department was one of the nine and happened to be the only agency whose chief, he states, received $145 million in donations from shareholders in that deal. Who, by the way, brings you back to point one -- who ended up donating to the Clinton Foundation. And by the way, Bill Clinton received $500,000 for a single speech he delivered in Moscow, and she couldn't answer to that either.
Conservative media are outraged over news that a woman will appear on the newly designed $10 bill, calling the decision "moronic," a disgrace," and even claiming it was an effort by President Obama to "make up for the Trail of Tears."
Sean Hannity claimed that he couldn't "find any instance" of Hillary Clinton calling out Middle Eastern countries for discriminating against women, suggesting that the former secretary of state's silence had been "bought" in exchange for donations to her foundation. But Clinton has repeatedly advocated for women in Saudi Arabia and other nations in the region -- regardless of any donations to the Clinton Foundation.
During the June 15 edition of Fox News' Hannity, host Sean Hannity and GOP presidential hopeful Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) discussed Hillary Clinton's record as secretary of state. Drawing from unsubstantiated pay-to-play allegations made by discredited Republican activist Peter Schweizer in his much disputed book Clinton Cash, the two suggested that donations to the Clinton Foundation from countries in the Middle East may have influenced her actions as secretary of state. Hannity claimed that countries like "Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait, UAE, have atrocious human rights records for women, gays, and lesbians" but that Hillary Clinton has "never uttered a word about how bad these records are." Asking if they had "[bought] her silence," Hannity went on to question if Clinton could really claim to be a champion for these groups, claiming that he couldn't "find any instance" where Clinton had criticized the policies of the countries he had named:
She's specifically addressed women's rights in precisely the countries Hannity named -- During her time as secretary of state, Clinton criticized Saudi Arabia for not allowing women to drive, asserting that women fighting against the country's ban were "brave and what they are seeking is right," despite the country's previous donations to her foundation. Clinton similarly delivered a scathing critique of Arab leaders for oppressing women in a 2011 speech.
Under Hillary Clinton's tenure, the State Department did not shy away from criticizing countries with poor records on women's and LGBT rights. In 2011 reports on human rights, State criticized Saudi Arabia for violating the basic rights of women with "significant human rights problems," writing that the country had issues with "violence against women and a lack of equal rights for women ...and discrimination on the basis of gender." The State Department similarly condemned the United Arab Emirates for "[d]omestic abuse of women .... [and] allegations that police sometimes enabled domestic abuse," writing that "[l]egal and societal discrimination against women and noncitizens was pervasive" in the country.
Right-wing media outlets are attacking a new rule from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) designed to increase diversity in American neighborhoods, calling it an attempt by President Obama to dictate where people live. But the program merely provides grant money to encourage communities to provide affordable housing and greater access to community resources.
From the June 3 edition of MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show:
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An ABCNews.com article prominently highlighted Rep. Darrell Issa's (R-CA) criticisms of the State Department for providing "heavily redacted" documents related to the September 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya to the congressional committee investigating the attack. But as the article itself makes clear, congressional investigators were provided an unredacted version of the very document in question.
The article, headlined, "Blanket Redactions to Hillary Clinton's Benghazi Records 'Typical,' Issa Says" begins by highlighting the attack from the former chairman of the House Oversight Committee: "Rep. Darrell Issa ripped the State Department on Twitter today for heavily redacted records related to Hillary Clinton's involvement in the Obama administration's response to the 2012 Benghazi, Libya, terrorist attacks."
But in the very next paragraph, the article establishes that Issa's attack was completely misleading, reporting:
However, though Issa suggested the redacted document was sent to the Benghazi Select Committee, which is investigating the circumstances surrounding the attack, the committee actually received an unredacted version, according to committee aides. The heavily redacted version Issa tweeted was actually the one publicly posted on the State Department website as part of its release of Clinton's emails as secretary of state last month.
ABC News' article demonstrates a type of misinformation Media Matters has termed "privileging the lie." ABC News is legitimizing Issa's claim by headlining and beginning the article with an allegation its own reporting shows to be false. But rather than make that falsehood the focus of the story, the report is framed around Issa's allegations.
According to The Washington Post, such framing distinctions are crucial because social science research shows that, "once an idea has been implanted in people's minds, it can be difficult to dislodge. Denials inherently require repeating the bad information, which may be one reason they can paradoxically reinforce it."
For this reason, former Media Matters senior fellow Jamison Foser has written, "If Candidate A lies about Candidate B, for example, the fact that Candidate A is lying should be the lede - otherwise the news report just drills the false claim into readers' and viewers' minds, allowing the misinformation to take hold before it is corrected."
In this case, however, ABC News privileged the lie, leaving its readers the worse off.
From the May 27 edition of MSNBC's PoliticsNation:
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Fox personalities criticized President Obama for calling climate change "an immediate risk to our national security" during his U.S. Coast Guard Academy commencement address. But security experts agree with the president that global climate change does threaten U.S. national security.
From the May 20 edition of Fox News' The Kelly File:
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A front-page Wall Street Journal report suggested that a top political appointee in Hillary Clinton's State Department improperly "blocked" documents sought under public records law. But even the article's anonymous sources don't support that allegation.
While career officials are supposed to make the final decisions on the release of documents sought under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), it is normal for political appointees to play a role in the process. As explained in a 2011 Inspector General report issued as part of an investigation into the role political appointees played in the FOIA processes of the Department of Homeland Security, both political and career officials "should undoubtedly ask questions and offer suggestions while a course of action is under consideration. This is the 'deliberative process' in which government employees must engage in order to make reasoned decisions. "The report noted that it is "appropriate that there be internal debate among DHS employees about DHS programs, and FOIA processing is no exception."
Echoing this understanding of how the FOIA process works, the Journal includes a State Department spokesman's comment that it is "entirely appropriate for certain Department personnel" to be consulted regarding FOIA requests, and a Clinton spokesman's statement that the focus of the article, former State Department chief of staff Cheryl Mills, "did not inappropriately interfere with the FOIA process."
The New York Post ran an op-ed pushing falsehoods and reckless speculation to attack Cheryl D. Mills, the former counselor and chief of staff to Hillary Clinton during her time at the State Department, in order to accuse her of having a "long track record of hiding Clinton documents."
From the May 8 edition of Premiere Radio Neworks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:
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Fox News correspondent Eric Shawn debunked his Fox colleagues' earlier criticism that the Clinton Foundation spent just 10 percent of its budget on charitable activities in 2013, calling these claims "incredibly misleading" because the non-profit carries out its humanitarian programs in-house.
On the May 6 edition of The O'Reilly Factor, Shawn addressed accusations of misconduct based on flawed analyses of the Clinton Foundation's expenditures.
When asked by host Bill O'Reilly about the "accusation ... that there only 10 percent of the money raised -- and it's $2 billion -- goes to grants out to poor people or institutions," Shawn responded, "That sounds really bad but it's actually incredibly misleading." Shawn went on to explain that "the way the charity works, they don't give grants to other charities -- they do most of it themselves." According to IRS filings, Shawn said, the Clinton Foundation's charitable spending is around 80 percent, and "the experts for charity say that's very good."
In a response to these accusations, the Clinton Foundation told PunditFact that it and the related Clinton Health Access Initiative combine to spend 88 percent of their expenditures on what the Foundation describes as "life-changing work."
Shawn's fellow Fox contributors and hosts have cited this misleading figure as evidence of malfeasance on the part of the Clinton Foundation. On the May 4 edition of The O'Reilly Factor, Fox contributor Mary Katharine Ham echoed O'Reilly's call for the FBI to investigate the Clinton Foundation's activities, saying that their purportedly low charitable spending rates "raised red flags -- like real red flags -- for the IRS," calling into question the foundation's designation as a charity. On the May 4 edition of Fox's The Five, host Eric Bolling incorrectly said that, "only 10 cents on the dollar went to charitable uses, causes." Co-host Juan Williams responded, "I just find that incredible. That strikes me as, I don't unders[tand] -- how is that legal?"
Broadcast media and major newspapers are ignoring the State Department's determination that there is no evidence to support allegations made by Republican activist and discredited author Peter Schweizer in his book, Clinton Cash, that Hillary Clinton's actions as secretary of state were influenced by donations to the Clinton Foundation -- despite the fact that many of these media outlets previously highlighted Schweizer's allegations after receiving advanced excerpts of the book and entering into exclusive agreements with the author to report on its storylines.
On May 4, State Department spokesperson Jeff Rathke said that the department is "not aware of any evidence that actions taken by Secretary Clinton were influenced by donation to the Clinton Foundation or speech on honoraria of former President Clinton." The statement came ahead of the official release of Clinton Cash, Republican activist and consultant Peter Schweizer's book which alleges unethical ties between Hillary Clinton's actions as secretary of state and foreign government donations to the Clinton Foundation.
Broadcast media and major newspapers have fallen silent following the State Department's assertion that they "are not aware of any evidence to suggest that there was any influence." Neither Fox News, MSNBC, CNN, ABC, CBS, nor NBC reported on State's assertion in their May 4 evening broadcasts. Major newspapers including The New York Times, Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Politico, and Time magazine failed to report on the State Department's response, despite many having received advanced excerpts from the book and having previously entered into "exclusive agreements" with Clinton Cash author Peter Schweizer to report on "storylines found in the book."
There are over 20 errors, fabrications, and distortions in Clinton Cash, which is being released May 5. Many of the media outlets with advanced excerpts of the book have since admitted it contains "no smoking gun," but The New York Times and Washington Post have failed to report on the book's errors since entering into exclusive editorial agreements with the Clinton Cash publisher.
Clinton Cash author and Republican activist Peter Schweizer acknowledged that, contrary to earlier reporting, there is no similar book in the works on the personal finances and policy decisions of former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, a claim journalists have previously cited to legitimize Schweizer's forthcoming book on the Clintons.
There are at least 20 documented errors, fabrications, and distortions in Schweizer's forthcoming book Clinton Cash, where the conservative author speculates about allegedly unethical ties between the Clinton Foundation and actions Hillary Clinton purportedly made as secretary of state. His allegations of impropriety by the Clintons and their family foundation have been picked apart by ABC News, BuzzFeed, MSNBC, NBC News, and ThinkProgress, among several other news agencies, and Schweizer has even been accused by one of his sources of taking comments "badly out of context" in hopes of slighting the Clinton family.
Bloomberg Politics reported on April 23 that in contrast to the "left-wing clamor that Schweizer is simply out to get Hillary Clinton," "Schweizer is working on a similar investigation of Jeb Bush's finances that he expects to publish this summer." Politico and CNN subsequently reported this would be a "book" on Bush.
But days later, Schweizer admitted that no similar book on Jeb Bush will be published. On the May 3 edition of Fox News' MediaBuzz, host Howard Kurtz asked about accusations that the book is "pursuing an agenda" based on his conservative political affiliations and activism. Schweizer acknowledged that while he's been researching Bush's finances, there are no plans to publish a book similar to Clinton Cash:
KURTZ: To be fair, you have been digging into Jeb Bush's finances --
KURTZ: -- So the Clintons aren't the only ones you're going to be looking at. But that's not going to result in a book, as I understand.
A spokesperson for Schweizer's current publisher, HarperCollins, previously told Media Matters that it has no plans to publish a book on Bush's complex finances. Instead, it expects Schweizer to issue a follow-up report at his far-right think tank, the Government Accountability Institute.
See the full segment here: