Fox News analyst Bernie Goldberg railed against long-standing employment discrimination law, mangling a civil rights doctrine to incorrectly claim the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is seeking to prevent companies from screening job applicants for misdemeanor or felony convictions.
The EEOC recently filed complaints against a BMW facility in South Carolina and the retailer chain Dollar General because they allegedly conducted improper background checks that disproportionately affected workers and applicants of color, a possible violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This type of racial discrimination has been held to be impermissible by the Supreme Court since 1971 and was most recently acknowledged to be good law by conservative Justice Antonin Scalia in 2010.
Goldberg, however, attacked the complaints, claiming "to most regular folks out there listening to us, this has to sound crazy, because there is no racial discrimination in any traditional sense." From the June 18 edition of America Live:
As mentioned by Goldberg, EEOC is using the disparate impact enforcement approach of Title VII, which can prohibit employment policies that have a disproportionate effect on the basis of race without an acceptable employer justification. Not only has the Supreme Court affirmed this antidiscrimination enforcement under Title VII since 1971, Congress explicitly codified the doctrine in 1991. Nevertheless, right-wing media continue to pretend this type of statistical analysis is improper and have repeatedly smeared the Department of Justice for utilizing this area of civil rights law.
Fox News is reviving the pernicious smear that undocumented immigrants are criminals in order to attack the comprehensive immigration reform proposal being debated in the Senate. In fact, the legislation toughens provisions against those immigrants who have been convicted of crimes and bars them from gaining legal status; moreover, studies show that immigrants commit crimes at a lower rate than native-born Americans.
Fox News has hyped interviews from the investigation into the IRS' improper scrutiny of conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status that have been selectively released by GOP Rep. Darrell Issa, while ignoring calls to make the full transcripts public.
Fox has highlighted and mischaracterized Issa's leaked interview with IRS agent Holly Paz even as calls grow from Rep. Elijah Cummings, a Democrat on the Oversight Committee, for Issa to release the full transcripts of all the remaining IRS interviews. The Huffington Post noted that, because the interviews are being leaked slowly, "it's impossible to know if there is countervailing information in either the pages left out of the interviews not released or the interviews not released":
The one item made public by Cummings' office included a statement from a self-described IRS office manager saying that the White House had no involvement in the enhanced scrutiny.
The slow release has also opened Issa up to criticism that he's trying to prolong the political bleeding for the Obama administration rather than pursue a sound and comprehensive investigation.
In a statement to Politico, Cummings noted that Issa was only releasing "cherry-picked excerpts that show no White House involvement whatsoever in the identification and screening of these cases":
Cummings spent the past week battling committee Chairman Darrell Issa, accusing the California Republican of cherry picking bits and pieces of transcripts for release to support his argument.
Cummings is threatening to release the transcripts of other interviews conducted by the committee. He's especially eager to make public an interview with a self-identified conservative IRS manager in Cincinnati who said employees there began scrutinizing tea party tax-exempt applications.
Issa has warned Cummings that a broad release of interview transcripts has the potential to hobble the committee's probe, but Cummings contends that it's "more reckless to leak cherry-picked excerpts that omit key details and hide the full truth."
After Issa released the transcript of an interview with Paz, several Fox News programs seized on the story in order to push the unsubstantiated claim that the IRS improperly targeted conservative groups under direct orders from Washington, D.C. America Live host Megyn Kelly hosted Guy Benson, political editor of the conservative website Townhall.com, to claim that Paz's interview supported claims that the agents were "following directions from Washington, DC." Politico reported that the selectively leaked interview was also being used by Republicans on Issa's Oversight Committee to claim "that Washington orchestrated the conservative group targeting."
Fox has previously ignored Issa's admission that the interview transcripts were "not definitive" in showing that Washington, D.C. was involved in the targeting. Fox has also attempted to suggest that visits by former IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman show the White House was involved in the targeting, despite extensive reporting showing that Shulman was largely attending meetings on health care reform implementation.
Fox News is dishonestly misinterpreting news reports to erroneously conclude that IRS officials in Washington, D.C., were involved in the improper scrutiny of conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status.
Several Fox anchors have portrayed details of a congressional interview with Holly Paz, formerly a D.C.-based manager in the IRS tax-exempt unit, as contradicting previous claims from the Obama administration that IRS reviews of conservative tax-exempt applications were not initiated by D.C. officials.
For example, on America's Newsroom, Martha MacCallum said Paz "says that she was in on the plan to give extra scrutiny to conservative groups." On the same program, Stuart Varney said Paz's interview proved that the orders to scrutinize conservative groups "did go higher up the food chain."
Later in the show MacCallum said that there were "compelling reasons" to investigate whether the orders to investigate conservative groups came from the top.
Similarly, America Live host Megyn Kelly said Paz's interview "discredits" claims made by the Obama administration that they were not involved in targeting conservatives.
These claims are based on a misinterpretation of what the IRS did that was improper. In an interview with congressional investigators, transcript of which was released to several news outlets, Paz acknowledged having "reviewed 20 to 30 applications" from politically active groups seeking non-profit. But it was not improper for the IRS to review such applications -- the reason the IRS has been criticized is because they used politically slanted criteria to select conservative, but not progressive, groups to receive that scrutiny. Specifically, the IRS gave additional scrutiny to groups with "tea party," "patriot," and "9/12" in their names.
In her interview, Paz reportedly said she reviewed case files submitted by IRS officials in Cincinnati, Ohio, but that it was the local office that was responsible for selecting those cases for scrutiny. From USA Today:
Paz said liberal groups were mentioned by name, alongside the Tea Party, on an IRS BOLO -- or "be on the lookout" -- list. Screeners in Cincinnati, where all applications for tax-exemptions are processed, used the list to identify sensitive or complex cases that should be sent to specialists in Cincinnati and Washington.
Thus, by the time Paz reviewed the cases in D.C., the improper behavior had already occurred, consistent with the Obama administration claims that the improper behavior was the fault of officials in Cincinnati.
Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly defended Sen. Ted Cruz's (R-TX) baseless declaration that 12 Communists served on the Harvard Law School faculty when he attended it in the early 1990s.
During a June 14 America Live segment about progressives criticizing Cruz, contributor Alan Colmes pointed out that Cruz had said he was "honored" to have been compared to notorious red-baiting Sen. Joseph McCarthy after "he said that we have a list of Communists at Harvard." Kelly replied that Cruz had said he "believed that there were more Communists at Harvard - because he went to Harvard undergrad and Harvard Law School - thanthere were Republicans." After Colmes interjected that Cruz had said he had "a list of them, just like McCarthy," Kelly replied, "But do you have reason to believe that's not true?"
The red-baiting Kelly defended has been debunked by Charles Fried, who has been teaching at Harvard Law since 1961 and served as solicitor general during the Reagan administration.
In February, the New Yorker reported that during a 2010 speech, Cruz said President Obama "would have made a perfect president of Harvard Law School," explaining (emphasis added):
"There were fewer declared Republicans in the faculty when we were there than Communists! There was one Republican. But there were twelve who would say they were Marxists who believed in the Communists overthrowing the United States government."
New Yorker reported that Fried criticized Cruz's comments, saying that his "willingness to label the faculty Communist 'lacks nuance.'" Fried said he doubted that any members of the faculty were Communists at the time Cruz attended the school, and that several members were Republicans:
Harvard Law School Professor Charles Fried, a Republican who served as Ronald Reagan's Solicitor General from 1985 to 1989, and who subsequently taught Cruz at the law school, suggests that his former student has his facts wrong. "I can right offhand count four "out" Republicans (including myself) and I don't know how many closeted Republicans when Ted, who was my student and the editor on the Harvard Law Review who helped me with my Supreme Court foreword, was a student here."
Fried went on to say that unlike Cruz, or McCarthy, who infamously kept tallies of alleged subversives, he had never tried to count Communists. "I have not taken a poll, but I would be surprised if there were any members of the faculty who 'believed in the Communists overthrowing the U.S. government,'" he said. Under the Smith Act, it is a crime to actively engage in any organization pursuing the overthrow of the U.S. government.
Fried acknowledged that "there were a certain number (twelve seems to me too high) who were quite radical, but I doubt if any had allegiance or sympathy with anything called 'the Communists,' who at that time (unlike the thirties and forties) were in quite bad odor among radical intellectuals." He pointed out that by the nineteen-nineties, Communist states were widely regarded as tyrannical. From Fried's perspective, the radicals on the faculty were "a pain in the neck." But he says that Cruz's assertion that they were Communists "misunderstands what they were about."
Mark Fuhrman, a former detective for the Los Angeles Police Department whose racist statements came to light during the O.J. Simpson trial, appeared on Fox News' America Live to discuss the role of race in jury selection for George Zimmerman's second-degree murder trial. Zimmerman is accused by prosecutors of profiling and fatally shooting 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida in February 2012.
From the June 10 edition of America Live:
During the 1995 murder trial of O.J. Simpson, the defense produced a tape of Fuhrman, who collected evidence in the case, using the word n*****more than 40 times over a 10 year period. The person who made the tape said Fuhrman used the slur "in a very casual ordinary pattern of speech. It was nothing extraordinary. It was just conversation." During the O.J. Simpson trial, a number of other witnesses testified that Fuhrman was a racist. Fuhrman, who testified during the trial that he had not used a racial slur in the past 10 years, pled no contest to perjury charges and was sentenced to three years of probation.
During a 2006 appearance on Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, Fuhrman, who is a Fox News contributor, said that the type of "people" he "dealt with ... for 20 years" while working in law enforcement will "kill somebody and go have some chicken at KFC. You will catch them eating chicken and drinking a beer after they just murdered three people." Co-host Alan Colmes challenged Fuhrman for using racially charged language, an allegation Fuhrman denied. Fuhrman has also appeared on Fox to defend a group of white police officers who were videotaped beating an African American man.
The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) is accusing the Obama administration of intentionally leaking one of the organization's confidential IRS documents, but congressional testimony and even NOM's former chairwoman have made clear that the release of the document was "inadvertent."
During the June 3 edition of Fox News' America Live, NOM president Brian Brown revived his claim that the IRS stole and leaked its Form 990 to the Human Rights Campaign last year, suggesting that the leak may have been linked to President Obama's reelection effort:
BROWN: It is a felony to use the private and confidential tax information, tax returns. This goes back to the articles of impeachment on President Nixon. And this was given to our political opponents, the head of which, the head of the Human Rights Campaign was a co-chair for President Obama's re-election campaign.
BROWN: We need Congress to move forward, we need a thorough investigation, and we need to know for certain if this goes, to see how high this goes. It is not at all encouraging that, again, this was given to a co-chair of President Obama's re-election campaign. That's just wrong.
Over the past few weeks, NOM's story has been picked up by a number of media outlets, including Politico, The Wall Street Journal, and Fox News. In an op-ed for USA Today, NOM chairman John Eastman claimed, without evidence:
[T]he release of NOM's confidential data to a group headed by an Obama campaign co-chair suggests the possibility of complicity at the highest levels of politics and government. This wasn't a low-level error in judgment; it was a conscious act to reward a prominent Obama supporter while punishing an opponent.
In fact, NOM's conspiracy theory has been debunked by NOM's own former chairwoman Maggie Gallagher. In a May 10 column for National Review Online, Gallagher wrote that the leak of NOM's Form 990 had been an accident:
You may recall that a low-level employee also released NOM's private tax-return information to a guy claiming to be a NOM employee, who then posted it on the Internet.
From the June 3 edition of Fox News' America Live:
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America Live anchor Megyn Kelly tore into Fox News colleagues Erick Erickson and Lou Dobbs over sexist comments they made about a study finding an increase in women as higher earners in families.
In a widely criticized segment that aired May 29 on Fox Business' Lou Dobbs Tonight, Dobbs hosted an all-male panel to discuss a Pew study showing that a record number of women are becoming their families' primary breadwinner. During that conversation, Erickson said that "when you look at biology" the "male typically is the dominant role." In a follow-up post on his RedState.com website, Erickson claimed that children do best "in households where they have a mom at home nurturing them while dad is out bringing home the bacon."
On the May 31 edition of America Live, Kelly hosted Dobbs and Erickson to discuss their comments. After Kelly asked Erickson "what makes you dominant and me submissive and who made you scientist-in-chief," Erickson said "it doesn't have anything to do with submissiveness per se, and it was poorly constructed how I said it."
Erickson's description of his comments is highly misleading, as Kelly pointed out by telling him "that's not exactly what you have been saying over the last couple of days." Both his Fox Business appearance and his blog on RedState stressed the "dominant role" that men play, with Erickson insisting he was supported by "biology" and "the natural world." Erickson even went so far as to accuse "feminist and emo lefties" of having "their panties in a wad over my statements."
Right-wing media are wildly distorting facts and criminal procedure to pretend Attorney General Eric Holder "lied" to Congress when he testified about government surveillance of journalists and prosecutorial discretion at a May 15 hearing.
Now that the possible chilling ramifications of legal searches of reporters' work product have been widely condemned not only by the press, both political parties, and President Obama and Holder, right-wing media have resorted to misrepresenting search warrant procedure, criminal law, and basic facts of what the Department of Justice (DOJ) actually did in their investigation of how a State Department employee may have violated the Espionage Act of 1917.
Specifically, right-wing media claim Holder's May 15 testimony is inconsistent with a two-year-old affidavit DOJ filed in support of a search warrant request for an email account associated with Fox News' James Rosen, as part of their investigation into the government official's unauthorized disclosure of classified information. Fox News host Sean Hannity was the most recent example, who showed a clip of the testimony on his May 29 show and then stated "what you just witnessed was the United States Attorney General lying while under oath before Congress."
Continuing in a vein set by Fox News host Megyn Kelly on the May 28 edition of America Live when she complained "it is one thing for the DOJ to go into a courtroom and try to get your records, your phone records, your email records. It's quite another for them not to give you any notice[,]" right-wing media is complaining that the underlying legal rationale behind the warrant request was incorrect. In support of this argument, the Drudge Report has been pushing claims made on Breitbart.com that Holder went "judge shopping" in pursuit of approval for this supposedly flawed search warrant.
From the May 28 edition of Fox News' America Live:
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From the May 24 edition of Fox News' America Live:
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Fox News is apparently desperate for a scandal over President Obama's handling of news that the Internal Revenue Service applied extra scrutiny to conservative groups, especially now that the network's campaign to embroil the president in scandal over his response to the Benghazi attacks is falling apart. Fox has gone from ignoring Obama's swift responses to the IRS's actions to downplaying the significance of his firing the IRS's acting commissioner, each time distorting reality in order to call for a special prosecutor.
The release of over 100 pages of inter-agency emails obtained by CNN have threatened to derail months of right-wing scandal-mongering over the administration's response to the 2012 attacks on a U.S. consulate in Benghazi. The emails appear to counter the conservative narrative that the State Department altered Benghazi-related talking points for political reasons. As Fox News' desperate attempts to resurrect the waning scandal fall flat, Fox pundits have resorted to criticizing the president's handling of the IRS controversy instead.
Fox kicked off its criticism by deciding Obama's initial condemnation of the IRS's actions as "outrageous" was too weak. When the president first addressed concerns over this story at a press conference on Monday, May 13, he asserted, "If, in fact, IRS personnel engaged in the kind of practices that had been reported," then "that's outrageous and there's no place for it. And they have to be held fully accountable." America Live host Megyn Kelly covered his remarks by wondering, "Does the president understate it when he calls this, 'outrageous'?"
After the Inspector General published its report on the IRS's actions, concluding the agency applied "inappropriate criteria" to conservative applicants, Obama released a statement on May 14 definitively calling the IRS's actions "intolerable and inexcusable" and directing action to be taken to hold those responsible accountable. This time, Fox simply pretended Obama made no such statement and continued to attack his remarks from two days prior, all while arguing that a special prosecutor was needed given Obama's supposed inaction.
By Thursday, Fox was fumbling over how to handle the fact that Obama had fired Steven Miller, the IRS acting commissioner, over the agency's actions. In the morning, America's Newsroom chose the route of merely ignoring that anyone had been fired so that host Martha MacCallum could declare, "[Obama] could be the big person. He could say, 'This stinks. You're all fired. This doesn't happen in America.' He has every ability in his position right now to take the high road. Why not? Why not do it?"
When the network finally acknowledged that Miller had been forced to resign, it did so by attempting to downplay the decision. Anchor Bret Baier questioned the action on Happening Now, claiming, "He was ready to leave, despite the fact -- I mean, before any of this already happened. He was acting commissioner and was set to leave the IRS. So that's a question for the White House; that's a question for the president. You know, was this guy fired when he was going to leave anyway?"
Fox News ignored President Obama's explicit demand for accountability in the wake of news that the Internal Revenue Service applied extra scrutiny to conservative groups. The network's omission gave it cover to accuse Obama of not taking the IRS's actions seriously and to call for a special prosecutor.
Obama first addressed the IRS controversy during a May 13 joint press conference with British Prime Minister David Cameron, where he condemned the IRS's behavior with the caveat, "If, in fact, IRS personnel engaged in the kind of practices that had been reported," then "that's outrageous and there's no place for it. And they have to be held fully accountable."
After the Inspector General published its report on the IRS's actions, concluding the agency applied "inappropriate criteria" to conservative applicants, Obama granted the IRS no such caveat. He released a statement definitively naming the IRS's actions "intolerable and inexcusable" and directing action to be taken to hold those responsible accountable:
I have now had the opportunity to review the Treasury Department watchdog's report on its investigation of IRS personnel who improperly targeted conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status. And the report's findings are intolerable and inexcusable. The federal government must conduct itself in a way that's worthy of the public's trust, and that's especially true for the IRS. The IRS must apply the law in a fair and impartial way, and its employees must act with utmost integrity. This report shows that some of its employees failed that test.
I've directed Secretary Lew to hold those responsible for these failures accountable, and to make sure that each of the Inspector General's recommendations are implemented quickly, so that such conduct never happens again.
Yet the next day, America Live host Megyn Kelly and Fox's digital political editor Chris Stirewalt pretended Obama issued no such condemnation.
Instead, Kelly claimed that even after the IG's report was released, "we still have the president saying, 'Well, if they did it, if they did it, if they did it." She ranted, "I don't understand, more so today than the other day, why the president used that word 'if.' 'If these people did this, if these people did that.' Now that I've seen the Inspector General report -- and you're telling me -- now Fox News just got it last night. But other news organizations had it leaked to them early. You're telling me President Obama couldn't have got it when it was complete on Monday?"
Kelly and Stirewalt used their mischaracterization of Obama's response to call for a special prosecutor into the IRS's actions. Stirewalt told Kelly that if he were the president, he would "find a Republican of good standing" to appoint as an independent investigator. Kelly responded with the charge, "Where is the harm to this administration, if as these IRS employees state, no one outside of the IRS had anything to do with this, this was just IRS employees deciding to target conservatives. So if the White House and no one else had anything to do with it, where is the harm? Why doesn't the president just say 'absolutely'?"
Fox's Lou Dobbs and Megyn Kelly attacked President Obama as "Nixonian" and claimed that he revealed his "inner Nixon" over scrutiny that the IRS applied to tea party groups, despite the fact that the president labeled the IRS's actions "outrageous."
Obama addressed concerns at a press conference Monday over reports that the IRS applied extra scrutiny to tea party groups. He vowed to hold the agency "fully accountable" and called the alleged misdeeds "outrageous." Pointing to those comments, Kelly asked if Obama's condemnation was forceful enough, while Dobbs compared Obama with President Nixon, stating, "This is an agency with an enemies list. This is Nixonian. This is a president whose inner Nixon is being revealed."
But Carl Bernstein, one of The Washington Post reporters who broke the Watergate scandal, deflated the idea that the IRS targeting was comparable to Watergate in an interview with Politico:
'In the Nixon White House, we heard the president of the United States on tape saying 'Use the IRS to get back on our enemies,' said Bernstein, whose reporting helped lead to Nixon's eventual resignation. 'We know a lot about President Obama, and I think the idea that he would want the IRS used for retribution -- we have no evidence of any such thing.'