Karl Rove argued that the Obama administration's effort to renegotiate the Status of Forces Agreement with Iraq in 2011 failed because Obama placed unprecedented conditions on Iraq -- conditions that the Bush administration actually included in its 2008 agreement with Iraq.
Fox contributor Karl Rove went on the June 20 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom and accused the Obama administration of adding unprecedented demands into the renegotiation of the 2011 Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) with Iraq. According to Rove, the U.S. and Iraq failed to agree because the Obama administration insisted on parliamentary approval of the agreement -- a condition that "was impossible for Iraqis to meet" and divergent from "what we've done in any other country around the world where we have a Status of Forces Agreement" (emphasis added):
BILL HEMMER (co-host): Are you of the mind that the reason why we did not leave a force of 10,000 behind in Iraq -- you know, the president said yesterday 'the Iraqis didn't let us, Maliki would not give us the agreement, so we had no decision but to pull out.' Are you of the mind that this administration did not want that agreement in order to have the reason and the rationale to pull American forces out of Iraq and say to the American people 'campaign promise fulfilled, the Iraq war is winding down and now ended.' What do you think?
ROVE: Well it's hard always to define intent, but I do think the administration, they said they wanted it, they assigned Joe Biden to negotiate it, and then at the last minute they put in a condition that was impossible for the Iraqis to meet -- that is to say, they wanted parliamentary approval of the SOFA. That's not what we've done in any other country around the world where we have Status of Forces Agreement. We've signed it with the leader of the country. And Maliki had the authority to do it, but it was impossible for him to go to his parliament at that time because he was trying to form a government and this would have been embroiled in domestic politics. So the administration basically made it impossible to do the deal.
Rupert Murdoch, CEO of Fox News' parent-company 21st Century Fox, penned a Wall Street Journal op-ed advocating for comprehensive immigration reform, a stance in stark contrast to Fox's callous coverage of the immigration system and immigrants, which frequently disparages migrants as akin to garbage, criminals, and terrorists.
In a June 18 op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, Murdoch, also the executive chairman of the Journal's parent company News Corp, urged legislators to pass comprehensive immigration reform, citing it as "one of the most immediate ways to revitalize our economy." Murdoch emphasized:
Immigrants enrich our culture and add to our economic prosperity.
I don't believe that people come to America to sit on their hands. The vast majority of America's immigrants are hardworking, family-minded individuals with strong values. They are drawn here from many different places by a common belief that this is still the land of opportunity for those willing to work hard.
Murdoch even urged lawmakers to provide "a path to citizenship" for "those individuals who are already here," and called it "suicidal to suggest closing our doors to the world's entrepreneurs, or worse, to continue with large-scale deportations."
It's a stance that runs in stark contrast to his news organization's recent extreme immigration rhetoric.
Last month, Fox reported on President Obama's speech urging immigration reform by deceptively editing footage to pretend the president was advocating for the release of criminal immigrants.
Evoking connections between immigrants and garbage, criminals, and terrorists is standard fare for the network, especially in light of a recent surge in migrant children entering the US to flee growing violence in Central America.
The June 4 edition of Fox & Friends reported on the undocumented immigrant children being dropped off at a Phoenix bus station awaiting deportation proceedings with on-screen text that read "illegal dumping," a phrase commonly used to describe the unlawful disposal of garbage or other unwanted items.
Fox has used the humanitarian crisis to attack President Obama and hype fears that the migrant children may be terrorists and violent cartel members. One Fox host said she "wouldn't be surprised" if the unaccompanied immigrant children were fronts for drug dealers or terrorists.
On June 13, Fox News reported on news that some military bases would open up to house immigrant families by portraying the immigrants as "whining" and accusing them of complaining "of conditions in free lodging," while denouncing the administration for "serving illegals while soldiers wait."
Rupert Murdoch and his Fox family have a history of conflicting on immigration -- Murdoch has been consistent in his support for immigration reform and has built a reputation for breaking with the network to back such reform, while Fox has been known to temporarily clean up their act when the boss is around.
Just today, Fox News' America's Newsroom took a uncharacteristically sympathetic stance on immigrants to report on Murdoch's op-ed, emphasizing the man's entrepreneurial success as an immigrant himself. The hosts followed suit with the network's tradition of abandoning typical anti-immigration rhetoric for more positive coverage when it comes to Murdoch, underscoring Murdoch's focus on America's entrepreneurial history of imagination and ambition and highlighting the importance of strengthening border security. No mention was made of Murdoch's advocacy for a path to citizenship for immigrants already residing in the U.S.
Fox News reverted to long debunked Benghazi myths to attack Hillary Clinton for her Tuesday interview on Fox, during which she stood by the fact that intelligence at the time linked the Benghazi terror attacks to an inflammatory anti-Islam video.
On the June 18 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-hosts Steve Doocy and Brian Kilmeade discussed the interview, criticizing Clinton for standing by "the administration mantra" that the 2012 Benghazi attacks were linked to the inflammatory anti-Islam video. Kilmeade argued that Clinton defended the link despite the fact that former CIA acting deputy director Mike Morell said that there was "no way" the attacks had "anything to do with the video," while Doocy accused the administration of pushing the video link to protect the administration "in advance of an election." Baier followed suit on America's Newsroom, criticizing Clinton for asserting "the fact that a video was a part of the situation on the ground in Benghazi":
Fox News personalities baselessly accused the Obama administration of engaging in a cover-up following reports that the IRS lost emails connected to the alleged targeting of organizations seeking tax-exempt status, ignoring the fact that government agencies regularly lose emails due to antiquated computer systems and policies.
Fox News incorrectly claimed that children crossing the U.S. border to flee violence in Central America are getting a "free ride" into the United States and are being allowed to stay despite evidence showing that these children are immediately put into deportation proceedings and are not eligible for any of the Obama administration's deportation relief programs.
This year, precipitated by growing violence in Central America, thousands of migrant children have entered the U.S. and have been held in various locations in border states, including temporary housing in Arizona. Estimates have varied on the number that is expected to cross this year, with The New York Times reporting that some federal officials predict at least 60,000 unaccompanied minors will attempt to cross into the U.S. by the end of this fiscal year.
Fox News has capitalized on the situation to attack the Obama administration and incorrectly claim his administration's immigration policies are to blame for the rise, while falsely claiming these children would receive a free pass into the U.S.
On the June 17 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom, co-host Bill Hemmer used the border crossings by unaccompanied migrant children to claim that the president was doing nothing about the situation. Fox contributor David Webb agreed, blaming the Obama administration for exacerbating "a human crisis" by "actively promoting" their "open borders approach":
A Fox News timeline stripped more than six years of the Iraq War from the record in order to link escalating violence in Iraq to decisions made by the Obama administration.
This week an extremist group called the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) seized control of Iraq's second-largest city, Mosul, and vowed to march on more top targets like Baghdad. In response, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki called for a state of emergency and appealed for U.S. military assistance by way of airstrikes.
The June 12 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom attempted to tie the escalating violence to President Obama and the decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq. As an illustration, anchor Patti Ann Browne laid out a timeline of U.S. engagement in Iraq, and eventual withdrawal -- a timeline that eliminated over six years of critical moments, agreements, and damaging scandals from the record:
BROWNE: It's been a long battle to liberate Iraq. It was over a decade ago in October 2002 that Congress agreed to U.S. involvement in Iraq. That was followed by President Bush signing Authorization of Military Force.
BROWNE: Then in March 2003, shock and awe. The United States launching strikes against Baghdad after the deadline for Saddam Hussein's exile expired.
BROWNE: Fast forward to 2007, President Bush announced the surge, the deployment of 30,000 additional troops to Iraq.
BROWNE: And then, the end. 2011. President Obama announcing the end of the Iraq War and saying troops will be withdrawn by the end of that year.
Fox's timeline glosses over years of crucial events in the war. Noticeably absent:
May 1, 2003: President Bush declared "Mission Accomplished" in Iraq from the deck of an aircraft carrier, less than two months after U.S. troops entered the country and toppled Saddam Hussein's regime.
January 25, 2004: Former CIA weapons inspector testified that the U.S. intelligence community failed to determine that the Iraqi weapons program was in a state of disarray prior to the U.S. invasion of the country.
April 30, 2004: Photographs emerged showing American soldiers torturing and abusing Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison. At least 11 U.S. military police personnel went on to serve prison sentences for the crimes.
June 28, 2004: U.S. officials transferred formal sovereignty of Iraq to Iraqi leaders.
November 17, 2008: U.S. and Iraqi Parliament ratified a status of forces agreement that mandated the end of 2011 as the date by which American troops must leave Iraq.
Fox News ran with the unsubstantiated and explicitly discredited claim that the U.S. might have paid a cash ransom to an Afghani militant group in exchange for the recent release of an American soldier, an assertion that has been repeatedly denied by the White House.
During the June 9 edition of America's Newsroom, co-host Martha MacCallum and Fox's senior political analyst Brit Hume hypothesized that in addition to releasing five Guantanamo Bay detainees in exchange for the release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the U.S. may have paid a cash ransom to the Haqqani network, Bergdahl's captors. Hume claimed that because the Haqqani network "is interested in money," "that gives rise to the question, which the administration has yet to answer, as to whether in addition to the release of these five Taliban prisoners, some ransom was paid."
MacCallum ran with the ransom idea:
MACCALLUM: A lot of layers and a lot of questions. And I would imagine Congress would have questions about that money as well.
HUME: Of course.
MACCALLUM: Whether or not they would have been put in the loop on that, right?
HUME: Sooner or later that question's going to be asked to somebody under oath, or perhaps the administration may come out and say, 'Yes, in addition we paid X amount of money to get this guy freed because we thought it was so important. And we'll see how people react to that.
MACCALLUM: But that raises the question then, why would you need to release these Taliban prisoners if that was part of the deal? And that goes back to perhaps some of these other questions about --
HUME: Well if it turns out that ransom was paid -- and this is speculation -- if it turns out ransom was paid, and that was what did the trick, that really does, as you suggest Martha, sharpen the question of well, why did you need to release these Taliban starting-five, as they've been called by some people?
Fox even floated their theory in the following segment with Republican Congressman Kevin McCarthy (CA), asking McCarthy, "What about this other question with the money ... how will you get to the bottom of the question whether or not money was exchanged?"
It's a conspiracy theory that parrots Fox contributor Oliver North's unsourced speculation that "somebody paid a ransom" for Bergdahl -- and one that has already been explicitly debunked.
The White House has flatly denied that money was exchanged for Bergdahl's release. While a ransom was previously considered as a possibility in the prisoner swap negotiations, a National Security Staff spokesperson explicitly denied the idea last week, according to the Houston Chronicle:
The White House countered Rep. Steve Stockman, R-Clear Lake, in a statement Friday after the congressman had questioned whether President Barack Obama paid ransom for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl's release.
"The United States did not provide money in return for Sgt. Bergdahl," National Security Staff spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said.
In fact, after Fox's lengthy speculation, an official White House Twitter account reiterated the fact that no cash was exchanged in response to right-wing claims:
From the June 6 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom:
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After endlessly politicizing the Benghazi terror attack for the past 20 months, Fox News is doing an about face, accusing Hillary Clinton of politicizing the issue after she called out the media and politicians for exploiting the tragedy.
On May 30, Politico released an excerpt from Hillary Clinton's forthcoming book, in which the former-secretary of state wrote that she refuses to "be a part of a political slugfest on the backs of dead Americans" and denounces using Benghazi as a "political tool." Clinton also described the "regrettable amount of misinformation, speculation, and flat-out deceit by some in politics and the media" that has contributed to the politicization of the crisis.
The excerpt provoked the ire of Fox News, which has led the charge in politicizing the Benghazi attacks. In particular, the network has leveraged the Benghazi attacks in a transparent attempt to smear Clinton's credibility and tarnish her image in expectation of a 2016 presidential bid. But rather than address Clinton's attempt to call out media misinformation, Fox simply flipped the script, accusing Clinton of politicizing the tragedy.
On the May 30 edition of Fox News' Outnumbered, co-host Sandra Smith claimed that Clinton is "politicizing the issue in this book by pointing fingers at Republicans for trying to politicize it." Later that day, The Real Story host Gretchen Carlson wondered if Clinton's remarks on coverage of Benghazi in her book were merely a way to "turn the tables on the people who are asking the questions as politicizing it." Fox regular Sergeant Jessie Jane Duff followed suit on June 2, accusing Clinton of "turning this into a political bandwagon," and trying to "make it look like anybody who wants answers is a politician":
In light of the Obama administration's mistake in releasing to the press the name of the CIA station chief in Afghanistan, right-wing media have rushed to create a false equivalence to the Bush administration's deliberate exposure of then-covert CIA agent Valerie Plame.
Fox News exploited the Obama administration's accidental exposure of a CIA operative's identity, using it as an opportunity to minimize the Bush administration's culpability in deliberately exposing former CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity as political retribution in 2003.
On May 26, the Washington Post reported that the White House press office had mistakenly revealed the name of the CIA Chief of Station in Afghanistan when it distributed a list of officials scheduled to participate in a military briefing with Obama at the Bagram Air Base during the president's surprise Memorial Day visit to Afghanistan. The list had been provided to the administration communications staff by military officials.
Fox News used the oversight as an opportunity to absolve the Bush administration and former Bush advisor Lewis "Scooter" Libby for deliberately exposing the identity of then-covert CIA operative Valerie Plame in 2003. On May 27, Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade referenced Libby, noting that this time, "Scooter Libby cannot be blamed or imprisoned" for the oversight. Co-host Steve Doocy seized on the comment as an opportunity to draw a false equivalence between the two cases and downplay the severity of the Plame leak:
DOOCY: Okay, so you mentioned Scooter Libby, he was all part of that Valerie Plame thing. Valerie Plame has tweeted out. She writes simply: "Astonishing, White House mistakenly identifies CIA Chief in Afghanistan." Keep in mind, you know, people are talking about, well remember when it happened during the Bush years with Valerie Plame. Valerie -- President Barack Obama at the time wanted to know, called an investigation were any laws broken and stuff like that. Keep in mind that, big difference. Valerie Plame had a desk job in suburban Washington, D.C., at the CIA. This guy is actually over there. So for them to put out a list -- and I've got the memo on my iPhone right now. There's his name plain as day with Chief of Staff right after it. Doesn't anybody at the White House know what they're doing right now? It looks like a -- either they're not paying attention to details or they simply don't care.
Later on America's Newsroom, Fox contributor and former Bush administration official John Bolton made the specious claim that Plame's identity was "made public by Rich Armitage, Secretary Colin Powell's deputy," and argued that the disclosure "resulted in some very unfair treatment of a lot of other people in the Bush administration like Scooter Libby." Bolton argued that the Plame disclosure was "just a malicious piece of gossip," while the Obama administration's disclosure was "utter incompetence."
These cases are not comparable. While the Obama administration's release of the CIA Chief of Station's name is a serious oversight, reports of the incident are clear that the disclosure was accidental. As the Washington Post noted, the mistake was immediately recognized and the list was withdrawn.
In contrast, the exposure of Valerie Plame's identity was a calculated move that that demolished her career after her husband wrote a New York Times op-ed critical of the Bush administration's justifications for taking the nation to war in Iraq. During the leak investigation, former Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper identified former White House senior adviser -- current Fox contributor -- Karl Rove as the original source revealing Plame's identity and pointed to Scooter Libby as the corroborating source. Libby, who then served as chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, was found guilty of perjury in the leak investigation, but his sentence was later commuted by Bush.
The Supreme Court will soon decide Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, a case that could let owners of for-profit, secular corporations ignore the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and provide health insurance that does not cover preventive benefits like contraception. Right-wing media continue to advance multiple myths to support the owners of Hobby Lobby, despite the fact that these arguments have been repeatedly debunked by legal experts, religious scholars, and medical professionals.
Fox News' Stuart Varney dishonestly hyped new data on the number of Americans receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) to accuse beneficiaries of committing fraud to avoid finding a job. But experts agree that fraud in the SSDI program is low and there is no evidence Americans are faking their disabilities.
A May 21 Drudge Report headline proclaimed a "Record 10,999,447 On Disability and linked to a CNSnews.com article announcing that the total number of disability beneficiaries in the U.S rose in April "setting a new all-time record":
On Fox's America's Newsroom, Fox Business host Stuart Varney claimed the "explosion" in disability beneficiaries showed "America is becoming increasingly a welfare state. " Varney accused SSDI beneficiaries of committing fraud by taking the "disability option" supposedly where able-bodied individuals who can't find a job use SSDI "almost as an insurance policy against no income or no job":
VARNEY: During the Obama years we've gone from eight million people, just about eight million people claiming Social Security disability payments all the way up to nearly 11 million. That is a huge explosion in disability payments. Now a lot of people are taking what's called the disability option. They can't find a job. So they take -- they treat disability almost as an insurance policy against no income or no job. So you have got this explosion in disability payments. And Martha, we can't afford it.
Two points, number one, if we go on like this the Social Security disability trust fund, totally runs out of money by the end of 2016. That is not that far away. Number two, there's been an expansion in who qualifies for disability payments. Mental disorder is now acceptable. Mood disorder, or back pain. Now, that kind of opens the door to fraud because you can't really prove a lot of that. And plus, once you get disability, you're on it for a very long time because the virtually very little inspection process to figure out who is off the disability, who has recovered. So pretty much payment for life. We can't afford this
Fox's "Fox Facts" on the Internal Revenue Service's (IRS) scrutiny of Tea Party groups applying for tax-exempt status get the facts exactly wrong.
Judicial Watch released a batch of IRS email correspondence under a Freedom Of Information Act request on May 14. The emails include a chain of correspondence between the Cincinnati IRS office and the Washington, D.C. based office dating back to February 2010, when a Cincinnati IRS employee first flagged a Tea Party group seeking tax-exempt status for further review. The full email chain shows that the Washington, D.C. office's involvement was all in response to the initial inquiry from Cincinnati.
Yet right-wing media latched onto a midsection of the email chain, from July 2010, to push the conspiracy theory that Washington directed inappropriate targeting of conservative groups.
The falsehood made its way onto the May 16 edition of Fox News'America's Newsroom in an on-screen graphic presented as "Fox Facts." The on-screen "Fox Facts" falsely claimed that the emails newly revealed by Judicial Watch prove that the targeting of conservative groups stemmed from Washington, D.C. rather than Cincinnati:
A look at how right-wing media ran with Fox contributor Karl Rove's speculation that Hillary Clinton suffered brain damage from a fall in 2012, laying the groundwork to establish the baseless smear as an issue for the 2016 presidential race.