Fox News reports as fact a blogger's made-up attack on Mi Familia Vota

››› ››› NED RESNIKOFF

One of Fox News' purportedly objective news programs reported the false claim that Mi Familia Vota submitted 3,000 "shady" voter registrations at the "last minute" in Arizona to benefit the Democratic Party. The fake story originated from an Arizona blogger who has a history of making questionable statements, and was denounced as false by the Yuma County Recorder's Office.

Blogger's false claim jumps from Malkin to Fox News

Publius Pundit claims Mi Familia Vota is "committing voter fraud in Yuma County." In an October 21 post titled "Raul Grijalva ally committing voter fraud in Yuma County," Arizona blogger Publius Pundit claimed:

The Yuma Sun is reporting that two organizations -- Mi Familia Vota and One Vote Arizona -- submitted more than 3000 voter registrations in Yuma County, and more than 20,000 voters statewide. Even more, they have signed up 43,000 people statewide for the permanent early voter list.

What they didn't tell you is that voter fraud on a massive scale could be taking place, ostensibly to help Raul Grijalva keep the congressional seat he holds by stealing the election.

But Publius Pundit misread the Yuma Sun article, which actually said that Mi Familia Vota had signed up 3,000 people in Yuma for "early voting ballots," not that it had submitted 3,000 voter registrations. Publius Pundit went on to claim "a source in the Yuma County Recorder's Office" said that the "3,000 voter registration forms" were all dropped off at the last minute, were mostly "for the Democratic Party" and that "65% of them are invalid."

Fox News accuses Mi Familia Vota of voter registration fraud in segment built around Malkin's blog post. In a segment on purported "voter fraud on a massive scale," host Megyn Kelly and Fox News contributor Michelle Malkin claimed that Mi Familia Vota submitted 3,000 "shady" voter registration forms" at the "last minute" in Arizona, and that "almost all of them were registrations for the Democratic Party." From the October 25 edition of Fox News' America Live:

KELLY: Well you talk about Arizona as well, where there was a massive attempt to get a bunch of these last-minute voter registrations through, despite some very curious facts about those voter registrations.

MALKIN: Correct. Arizona bloggers have found out that tens of thousands of these voter registrations submitted by a group called Mi Familia Vota, which keeps coming up in many of these cases. They were involved in the Colorado case as well, are closely tied to the Service Employees International Union, in fact, cohabitate in the same offices. There's a clear lack of transparency here because it seems clear to me that Mi Familia Vota is essentially an SEIU satellite social justice organization.

And those tens of thousands of voter registrations just happen to be, well, a majority of Democrat voter registrations and all sorts of watchdogs are raising questions and blowing the whistle over those shady registrations.

KELLY: Yeah, you said that there were 3,000 voter registration forms all dropped off at once by this one group on the deadline and that almost all of them were registrations for the Democratic Party, which is a statistical improbability at best.

Yuma County Recorder's Office: Claims of registration fraud are false. On October 25, Mi Familia Vota denounced the false claims made by Malkin and Hoft and stated they have registered 289 voters in Yuma County over the past two months, not 3,000. The Yuma Sun further reported on October 26:

The Yuma County Recorder's Office says it has processed a large number of requests to be put on the permanent early voter list but claims of fraudulent voter registration is not an issue in Yuma County, despite reports in the blogosphere.

[...]

After some reports of the perceived voter fraud hit the Internet over the weekend, one local group of residents held a protest Monday evening on the corner of 24th Street and 4th Avenue. One report of "voter registration" came from a blog called Publius Pundit; it was also circulated on other websites.

Publius Pundit is run by a right-wing political operative in Arizona

Mayer is actively involved in Arizona state politics. Mayer's Twitter page lists him as the "Southern Arizona Coordinator for the Proposition 106 campaign." According to the Proposition 106 campaignwebsite, Proposition 106, which is on the ballot in Arizona this year, is intended to "prevent Washington's mandate that Arizonan's buy health insurance -- or pay a HUGE penalty, fine or tax." Proposition 106 is a conservative initiative supported by many Arizona Republican candidates; including Governor Jan Brewer, Arizona state Rep. Nancy Barto, and Congressional candidate Ruth McClung. Publius Pundit frequently promotes Proposition 106.

Publius Pundit accused Grijalva of fak[ing] a 'terrorist attack' to cover up Yuma "voter fraud" story. On October 21, an envelope containing white powder and swastikas was reportedly mailed to Rep. Raul Grijalva's office in Tucson. In an October 22 post Publius Pundit accused Grijalva of arranging the incident "to cover up the story of voter fraud that had just broken," referring to the Publius Pundit post on Mi Familia Vota from the previous day.

Publius Pundit accused Grijalva of abusing alcohol and cocaine. In an October 23 post on the suspicious package, Publius Pundit noted that the white powder turned out to be non-toxic, and then added: "One could venture that it isn't as toxic as all the liquor that Grijalva drinks or the cocaine that was rumored to be piled in his office during his days at the Pima County Board of Supervisors."

Publius Pundit pushed discredited claim that Grijalva "aided group that helped terrorists kill Americans." In an October 17 post, Publius Pundit claimed that Grijalva facilitated a Code Pink effort to "help terrorists kill Americans" by "providing aid to the insurgents." As Media Matters has noted, the claim that the humanitarian aid package was delivered to insurgents rather than refugees is completely baseless.

Former Fox News executive: "Seeing an item on a website does not mean it is right."

Ex-FNC VP for news Moody: "Seeing an item on a website does not mean it is right." Fox News has a documented pattern of delivering news reports based on Internet rumors that turn out to be false. In January 2007, after Doocy retracted his false assertion that President Obama "was educated in a madrassa," then-Fox News' vice president for news, John Moody, reportedly said in a memo to Fox News staff: "For the record: seeing an item on a website does not mean it is right. Nor does it mean it is ready for air on FNC. The urgent queue is our way of communicating information that is air-worthy. Please adhere to this."

Right-wing media regularly promote entirely fabricated stories

Right-wing media eagerly spread absurd claim that Obama plans to "ban sport fishing." On March 9,Robert Montgomery reported for ESPNOutdoors.com that President Obama's Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force "could prohibit U.S. citizens from fishing the nation's oceans, coastal areas, Great Lakes, and even inland waters." Montgomery cited no evidence for his claim, and the task force in question issued a report seeking to "better manage," not ban, recreational fishing. Right-wing media, including Glenn Beck, Fox Business's Eric Bolling, Limbaugh, Malkin, RedState, Fox Nation, and Jim Hoft quickly forwarded his report. ESPNOutdoors.com executive editor Steve Bowman subsequently acknowledged "several errors in the editing and presentation" of the article, and noted that the column "was not properly balanced and failed to represent contrary points of view." In a March 17 post calling Limbaugh's claims about fishing "Pants on Fire" false, Politifact noted that "the draft framework says nothing about banning fishing."

Fox, right-wing blogs snared by satire post about a global warming activist freezing to death. Fox Nation, Hoft, Ace of Spades, and JammieWearingFool all hyped a March 29 EcoEnquirer.com report that "Famed global warming activist James Schneider and a journalist friend were both found frozen to death on Saturday, about 90 miles from South Pole Station." EcoEnquirer.com is a satire site, which at the time featured "Breaking News" about the successful 2027 Bali global warming conference. Other EcoEnquirer.com stories include "U.S.-Canada Border Conflict Continues" and "EPA to Mandate Reductions in Emissions from Volcanoes."

Right-wing smear machine falls for fake Obama quote labeled as "satire." An August 25, 2009, post to the blog Jumping In Pools reported that in Obama's college thesis -- which the post's author claimed had been obtained by Time's Joe Klein -- Obama attacked the Founders and the Constitution. The post included no evidence and was tagged as "satire." Nonetheless, right-wing media including Pajamas Media blogger Michael Ledeen, Fox Nation, American Thinker's Denis Keohane, Pamela Geller, Lou Dobbs, and Rush Limbaugh all trumpeted the story as if it were true. After Klein stated that the report was "completely false" and that he had "never seen Obama's thesis," Limbaugh acknowledged that the Obama quotes may be "made up," and Ledeen apologized for falling for "a hoax, or a satire."

Right-wing media adopt "insane conspiracy theory" that Obama lied about attending daughter's soccer game. On April 13, American Thinker's Cat Corbern reported that Obama "may have been lying about attending his daughter's soccer game last weekend," claiming that the game "didn't exist" because "there were no scheduled soccer games for Sidwell Friends April 10." Limbaugh, Ed Morrissey at Hot Air, Confederate Yankee, and Don Surber all ran with the story. CBS' Mark Knoller subsequently reported that "a CBS colleague happened to be at the soccer game on his own & saw the Obamas there," while ABC's Jake Tapper reported that "many ppl saw POTUS at daughter's soccer game at ft reno park soccer field" and criticized the "insane conspiracy theory." Even after the story had been debunked, Breitbart's Big Journalism reported that "The inquiring minds in the media suddenly don't care much that the president 'dissed' them and that there was no soccer game scheduled and it certainly would not have been at the address given by the presidential staff."

Right-wing media apply quote about Obama inauguration crowd size to tea party rally. Following the September 12 tea party rally, several conservative blogs quoted National Park Service spokesman "Dan Bana" as saying the protest was "the largest event held in Washington, D.C., ever." In fact, the spokesman, whose actual name is David Barna, used that quote to describe President Obama's inauguration.

Following Free Republic, Drudge's lead, conservative media run with Obama photo that doesn't show what they claim. After a Free Republic member posted a Reuters photo of President Obama and French President Nicolas Sarkozy at the 2009 G8 Conference, Matt Drudge promoted the same photo by suggesting Obama was inappropriately leering a young girl. Subsequently, Fox News and the New York Post followed their lead, highlighting the photo online and on screen, in some cases with provocative, needling, or scolding commentary, suggesting that Obama had ogled the girl. But a review of the video, which the media promoting the photo either did not watch or did not allow to give pause, makes clear that Obama was attempting to navigate high steps while reaching back to help someone behind him do so as well. As Fox News host Greta Van Susteren said after airing video of the event, "Yes, a still picture can lie. And this one does."

Breitbart burns right-wing media with false claim of Community Organizers Pray[ing] TO" Obama. On September 29, 2009, Andrew Breitbart's Breitbart.tv embedded a video with the headline "Shock Discovery: Community Organizers Pray TO President-Elect Obama." The video included captions such as "Deliver Us Obama" and "Hear Our Cry Obama," suggesting that the crowd was "pray[ing]" to Obama. Beck, Dobbs, and numerous right-wing blogs including Malkin, Morrisey, Hoft, and Geller subsequently ran with Breitbart's story. Breitbart.tv later "updated" the post with "the longer version of the original event" -- a video that did not include the captions -- and added an editor's note acknowledging that "there is a debate over what is actually being said" and that the crowd may, in fact, be saying, "Oh God," rather than "Obama."

Fox Nation, Drudge Report, CNS distortion: White House requested "Jesus" be hidden during speech. The Fox Nation and the Drudge Report advanced an April 15, 2009, CNSNews.com article claiming the White House requested that Georgetown University "hide 'Jesus' " during a speech there by President Obama. However, as the CNS article noted, the White House requested "all signs and symbols" on the stage -- not solely the name of Jesus -- be covered.

Claim that alleged bomber is a registered Democrat collapsed -- after Limbaugh boosted it. In a May 4 post, RightPundits.com reported that alleged Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad was a registered Democrat, citing no evidence. Hoft and Limbaugh quickly forwarded the claim. On May 5, Media Matters contacted the offices of the registrar in Shahzad's hometowns and confirmed that he is, in fact, not a registered voter in those towns.

Fox & Friends forwards Hoft's debunked suggestion that NAACP president was in attendance at Sherrod speech. On July 21, Jim Hoft claimed that NAACP president "may have been at" the speech by Sherrod in which she made statements that were taken out of context to smear her as a racist, based on Sherrod's reference during the speech to "The President who is with us tonight." Media Matters Senior Fellow Eric Boehlert contacted the NAACP and received confirmation from two national NAACP officials that Jealous "wasn't there." That evening, Hal Pressley, the president of the local Georgia NAACP chapter confirmed to CNN that he was in attendance during Sherrod's speech. The next day, Fox & Friends guest host Juliet Huddy nonetheless falsely suggested that Jealous "was supposedly there" at the speech.

Posted In
Elections, Voting Rights & Issues
Network/Outlet
Fox News Channel
Person
Michelle Malkin, Megyn Kelly
Show/Publication
America's News HQ
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