Kelly's obsession with phony scandal is just the latest "hint of her political outlook"
Research ››› ››› JEREMY HOLDEN, ZACHARY PLEAT & TODD GREGORY
Megyn Kelly has been a driving force behind Fox News' heavy promotion of the phony New Black Panther Party scandal. Kelly has been criticized for showing "hints of her political outlook" from the anchor desk and has a history of advancing right-wing smears and falsehoods.
Kelly has been driving force behind Fox's phony New Black Panthers scandal
Kelly aggressively promoted GOP activist's "explosive new allegations" against Obama DOJ. On the June 30 edition of America Live, host Megyn Kelly promised "explosive new allegations" in the New Black Panthers case and introduced her interview with former DOJ official and Republican activist J. Christian Adams by commenting: "A Justice Department lawyer giving America Live a dramatic interview today alleging politics and race were to blame for the decision not to pursue serious charges against members of the New Black Panther Party." Kelly's America Live discussed the phony scandal during 45 segments totaling more than 3.5 hours between June 30 and July 14 alone.
Kelly's promotion relied on deceptive and misleading editing. While promoting the phony New Black Panthers scandal, Kelly deceptively cited the testimony of Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez to advance Adams' allegations, omitting the portion of Perez's testimony that directly rebuts Adams. Kelly also falsely characterized a documentary about the New Black Panther Party as evidence of "the incident" that gave rise to the Justice Department's investigation into alleged voter intimidation on Election Day 2008. But according to the general counsel for the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, the video was completed before Election Day.
Kelly has been criticized for showing "hints of her political outlook" from the anchor desk
NY Times: Kelly part of "what [Fox News] says is a sharp division between its daytime newscasts and its opinionated hosts." A February 1 New York Times article reported that Kelly was "progressing through Fox's star-making machinery" and that "Fox has seemingly focused more attention on what it says is a sharp division between its daytime newscasts and its opinionated hosts in the evening." [The New York Times, 2/1/10]
Kelly reportedly said to have come to Fox "believing there was a left bias in the news." In an April 14, 2008, Washington Post article, Howard Kurtz reported that Kelly's audition tape "immediately impressed Brit Hume, the Washington managing editor, and his wife, Kim, then the bureau chief." The article quoted Hume saying that Kelly "seemed to get what we've talked about with 'fair and balanced news' " and that she "came in believing there was a left bias in the news." The article added, "[Hume] quickly created an opening for her." [The Washington Post, 4/14/08]
Kelly said to show "hints of her political outlook" from anchor desk. In his profile, Kurtz wrote:
Kelly says that "my job is to do the interviews, not be the opinion-giver," but she feels free to offer her views in these legal arguments. Occasionally, though, there are hints of her political outlook. During the weeks when Fox News was making a major issue of the offensive sermons by Barack Obama's former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Kelly told viewers it was "pretty stunning" that Wright got a cheering welcome at a Chicago church while President Bush was booed at the Washington Nationals home opener. "No respect for the president of the United States when he showed up to throw out the first pitch," she said.
Kelly skewered as latest example of Fox News' blurring of news and opinion. During the March 3 edition of Comedy Central's The Daily Show, Jon Stewart highlighted the lack of balance during Kelly's reportage of the health care debate and asked, "What, exactly, is your show balancing out?" [The Daily Show, 3/3/10]
Kelly's Fox show criticized for "obsess[ing]" over right-wing narratives and highlighting "the usual Fox News bugbears." An April 7, 2008, New York Times article reported that America's Election HQ, which Kelly co-hosted, "comes with Fox News topspin" and "obsesses about the patriotism of Mr. Obama's former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., or Mrs. Clinton's family finances, and the program highlights the usual Fox News bugbears: Jane Fonda's endorsement of Mr. Obama last week was treated as a major news item -- and a potential stink bomb." [The New York Times, 4/7/08]
Kelly's interview criticized as like "a tryout to be Bill O'Reilly's understudy." During the July 20 edition of NPR's Morning Edition, NPR's David Folkenflik highlighted Kelly's hostile July 13 interview with Fox News contributor Kirsten Powers to discuss the phony New Black Panthers scandal. Folkenflik said that "rising star" Kelly "tore into Fox's own Democratic analyst Kirsten Powers" in an interview Folkenflik said "sounded more like Kelly's tryout to be Bill O'Reilly's understudy than just another day behind the anchor desk."
Kelly uses her Fox News perch to peddle right-wing falsehoods and smears
Kelly pushed Breitbart's heavily edited ACORN videos. Kelly used her Fox "news show" to promote Andrew Breitbart's heavily edited ACORN videos, which she called "undercover video tapes." Kelly discussed the tapes with Fox News contributor Karl Rove, who called ACORN a "remarkable criminal enterprise." In his December 7, 2009, "Independent Governance Assessment of ACORN," former Massachusetts Attorney General Scott Harshbarger (D), who was hired by ACORN to conduct an inquiry in part into the videos, concluded that "there is no evidence that action, illegal or otherwise, was taken by any ACORN employee on behalf of the videographers" and noted that the videos had been edited "in some cases substantially."
Kelly pushed right-wing falsehood that Kagan "bann[ed] the military from campus" at Harvard. Discussing Elena Kagan's nomination to the Supreme Court, Kelly falsely claimed that "the criticism of Kagan is that while she was dean of Harvard Law School, and she was dean in 2003, she decided to continue a policy of banning the military from the campus because they didn't like the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy." In fact, Harvard law students had access to military recruiters throughout Kagan's tenure as dean. [America Live, 5/17/10]
Kelly adopted conservative falsehood that budget reconciliation was "the so-called nuclear option." During the health care reform debate, Kelly discussed "reports that Democrats were ready to use the so-called nuclear option," which she defined as "forcing a health care reform bill through with only 51 votes in the Senate as opposed to 60." In fact, "nuclear option" is a term coined by former Sen. Trent Lott (R-MS) to refer to a procedure that would be used to change Senate rules; reconciliation requires no rule changes and was used repeatedly by Republicans during the Bush administration. [America Live, 2/22/10]
Kelly adopted GOP line that Democrats threatened "to ram [health care] through with 51 votes." During the health care reform debate, Kelly stated that "it seems like some of the Democrats are holding up the stick, saying, we would like to come together, but if we don't, we are prepared to use this stick. Meaning, we are going to ram this through with 51 votes, and then you will be stuck with no Republican input onto the bill. And many people are saying, where -- how is that a bipartisan negotiation? How does that encourage bipartisanship?" [America Live, 2/22/10]
Kelly picked up right-wing attack of long-standing Labor Department policy. Discussing a public service announcement in which Labor Secretary Hilda Solis informed vulnerable workers, including the undocumented, about wage standards, Kelly said, "[Y]ou almost don't believe this until you see it with your own eyes -- you see Hilda Solis with your own eyes and hear her with your own ears." In fact, the Labor Department's policy of enforcing labor laws without regard to immigration status long predates the Obama administration; moreover, the enforcement of labor laws is widely seen -- even by those who advocate for greater restrictions on immigration -- as a key to discouraging employers from hiring unauthorized workers. [America Live, 6/22/10]
Kelly smeared Kagan with falsehood that she "essentially" promoted allowing "an abortion in the third trimester" for "a headache." Kelly falsely claimed that the health exception to a ban on late-term abortions that Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan advised President Clinton to endorse "essentially" would have allowed women to "get an abortion in the third trimester" because of "a headache." In fact, Kagan advised Clinton to endorse a proposal banning late-term abortions that included a much narrower health exception. [America Live, 6/29/10]
Kelly attributed survey to New England Journal of Medicine after it had been debunked. Discussing a survey that purported to show that physicians are concerned about health care reform, Kelly claimed that the survey was "published in the New England Journal of Medicine." In fact, the New England Journal of Medicine had definitively said it had neither conducted nor published the story prior to Kelly's report. [America Live, 3/17/10]
Kelly adopted right-wing attack on NLRB nominee. Kelly claimed that National Labor Relations Board appointee Craig Becker's "key positions" included that he "thinks that employers should not be involved in any union elections. In other words, the unions can make their case, but the employers must sit silent." Kelly's "news report" parroted a right-wing talking point. In fact, Becker testified that he would be bound by current law, which gives employers a "legitimate interest" and "indisputable" "right" to express views on unionization. [America Live, 3/30/10]
Kelly adopted GOP criticism that Fannie and Freddie were "getting a free pass." In an April 22 press conference (accessed via Nexis), House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) criticized Democrats over financial regulatory reform and said that "while the president and the Democrats in Congress purport to have a bill to fix the problems in our regulatory system, how you can attempt to fix it without going to the root of the problem, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, is really beyond me." That same day, Kelly said, "Well, they were public enemies number one and two in the economic meltdown. But when President Obama called for strict new regulations on the financial sector today, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were all but absent from the discussion. So are they really getting a free pass as we decide to crack down on all the fat cats?" Kelly ignored that the Obama administration has initiated a separate effort to reform the housing finance system. [America Live, 4/22/10]
Kelly jumped on dubious Prowler report that Fox News acknowledged it did not "independently confirm." Kelly joined colleague Bret Baier in promoting a dubious, anonymously sourced report from The American Spectator's Washington Prowler that claimed that the Department of Health and Human Services withheld a report on health care reform until after the health care vote. Kelly acknowledged that Fox had not "independently confirmed this," and later Baier stated that the report's author called the Prowler's claims "completely false." Fox later confirmed that the allegations were completely false. [America Live, 4/27/10]
Kelly highlighted "a Facebook page with more than 3,000 people" that compared Rep. Murtha to Benedict Arnold. Discussing the possibility of naming a U.S. warship after the late Rep. John Murtha (D-PA), Kelly claimed that "the issue" was "whether he is the appropriate choice." Kelly then said that "right now, there is a Facebook page with more than 3,000 people who are objecting to this, saying that this is a disgrace, it's inappropriate, and that this is as bad as naming a warship for Benedict Arnold." [America Live, 4/28/10]
Kelly falsely claimed Obama administration decision could lead to doctors being jailed for refusing to perform abortions. On America's Newsroom, Kelly misrepresented the reported plans of the Obama administration to rescind a Bush administration regulation. Kelly falsely asserted that the Obama administration's decision could result in doctors' being prosecuted or discriminated against for refusing to perform abortions. In fact, critics and supporters of the regulation reportedly agreed that it could allow doctors to refuse other services, and federal law already bans discrimination against doctors who refuse to perform abortions. Federal law -- which the Obama administration cannot "repeal" -- prohibits public officials from requiring recipients of public funds to perform abortions or sterilizations in violation of their religious or moral beliefs. Similarly, federal law prohibits entities receiving public funds from discriminating against personnel who refuse to perform those procedures for those reasons. [America's Newsroom, 3/4/09]
Kelly distorted Sotomayor's words to falsely claim she said, "Latina judges are obviously better than white male judges." Discussing Justice Sonia Sotomayor's nomination to the Supreme Court, Kelly misrepresented a remark that Sotomayor made in a speech delivered at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law, claiming that she suggested, in Kelly's words, "that Latina judges are obviously better than white male judges" and "that sounds to a lot of people like reverse racism." In fact, when Sotomayor asserted, "I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life," she was specifically discussing the importance of judicial diversity in determining race and sex discrimination cases. [America's Newsroom, 5/26/09]
Kelly altered Michelle Obama's convention speech to question her "feelings about the country." While covering the Democratic National Convention, Kelly asked Democratic strategist Howard Wolfson about Michelle Obama's convention speech, saying: "Do you think that, you know, her saying that she loves America, that she loves this country, is going to do it for those who questioned her patriotism?" Kelly noted that during the speech Obama stated, "The world as it is just won't do," and said: "If you replace 'world' with 'country', you are back to the same debate, arguably, that you have been having about Michelle Obama's feelings about the country. Did she give her critics any fodder with that comment?" [Fox News' coverage of the Democratic National Convention, 8/26/08]
Kelly mocked frequent right-wing bogeyman ACORN for following Florida voter registration law. During coverage of the 2008 presidential election, Kelly mocked ACORN for stating that it was required under Florida law to submit a voter registration form filed under the name "Mickey Mouse" to the Orange County, Florida, board of elections. Kelly said: "I love that, they've got the obligation to submit it no matter what it says. Mickey Mouse, Jive Turkey, which we saw yesterday. How are we to know?" In fact, a third-party voter registration organization that fails to submit a voter registration application was liable under Florida law for "[a] fine in the amount of $1,000 for any application not submitted if the third-party registration organization or person, entity, or agency acting on its behalf acted willfully." [America's Newsroom, 10/14/08]
Kelly repeated discredited falsehood that stimulus funds were going to an "abandoned train station." Kelly twice repeated the discredited falsehood that "nearly 10 million bucks" in stimulus funds is going to "renovate an abandoned train station that no one uses." Kelly sourced the claim to Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), who stated in a report detailing purportedly wasteful stimulus projects that "[n]early $10 million" in stimulus funds is being used "to renovate an abandoned train station that hasn't been used in 30 years." In fact, Coburn's own report noted that while the station house in question has been closed for 30 years, "[t]he station's platform currently serves more than 80,000 passengers a year," which is reportedly nearly double the number who used the station in 2003-04. [America's Newsroom, 6/23/09]
Kelly promoted baseless conspiracy theory about White House "enemies list." In August 2009, Kelly pushed the baseless right-wing accusation that people who reportedly claim to have received unsolicited email from White House adviser David Axelrod may have been added to a White House "enemies list" after emails they sent that were critical of the Obama administration were purportedly forwarded to firstname.lastname@example.org. Kelly asked, "Well, is the White House collecting the emails of those who disagree with its health care policy?" She later said, "The point is, does the White House have some database of emails of people who have complained about the health care reform efforts? And is it then using that database to market its own personal message or for some other reason? Or is it just keeping it in storage, where it will ultimately become public record and somebody else might compile it for a nefarious reason?" [America's Newsroom, 8/14/09]
Kelly's selectively described AMA based on politics of health care reform. During the health care reform debate, Kelly said, "President Obama likes to point out that the American Medical Association, or AMA, supports the Democrats' health care reform bill," but that "we looked up the statistics, and it turns out that this group only represents about 20 percent of practicing doctors." Yet two months earlier, when the AMA was critical of Democratic support for the public option in early June 2009, Kelly promoted the group's position: "[T]he folks who are supporting this plan have been saying all along that the doctors want it, the doctors want it, the doctors want it. Well, apparently, the American Medical Association -- made up of doctors -- doesn't want it." [America's Newsroom, 8/21/09]
Kelly promoted VA "death book" smear. Following several days in which Fox News promoted the smear that an educational booklet on end-of-life decisions used by the Veterans Health Administration is a "death book," Kelly joined by falsely claiming that the booklet encourages veterans to "hurry up and die" and that VHA officials are "required" to refer patients to it. [America's Newsroom, 8/24/09]
Kelly gave a "hat tip" to totally discredited Gateway Pundit blog. Kelly used her Fox News anchor desk to give a "hat tip" to the blog Gateway Pundit, which Kelly said is where "we found" video of "a new effort to silence critics of the Democrats' [health care] plan." As part of his long history of generating and advancing falsehoods, Gateway Pundit blogger has frequently pushed the conspiracy theory that President Obama doesn't have a valid birth certificate, speculated that Obama may instead be a Kenyan, and compared a speech by Obama about "persisting and succeeding in school" to indoctrinating the Hitler Youth. [America's Newsroom, 9/02/09]
Kelly said O'Keefe was arrested for performing "citizen journalism." During an interview with GOP activist Hannah Giles, Kelly referenced ACORN videographer James O'Keefe's arrest in the Louisiana offices of Sen. Mary Landrieu. After Giles thanked Kelly for letting O'Keefe "give his side," Kelly said it was "an attempt at more citizen journalism." O'Keefe eventually pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of entering federal property under false pretenses. [America Live, 2/17/10]