Fox News is providing ample, uncritical airtime to hype Representative Paul Ryan's (R-WI) report on the alleged ineffectiveness of government anti-poverty programs, despite condemnation from numerous economists that the report is misleading and inaccurate.
In response to a new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulation on sulfur in gasoline, Fox News misinformed viewers about the health benefits of reducing sulfur, which contributes to smog, and overstated even the claims of the oil industry about the costs of the rule.
Fox News' misleading attempt to downplay the involvement of right-wing groups in the prominence of anti-Obamacare advertisements fell apart after a later segment on Fox revealed the heavy involvement of conservative special interest groups in promoting the campaign ads.
On the February 27 edition of Fox's Fox and Friends, co-hosts Elisabeth Hasselbeck, Clayton Morris, and Brian Kilmeade attacked Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for pointing to conservative special interest groups as the origin of Obamacare attack ads. Hasselback asked viewers to "actually look at the facts" before running a graphic to show that political donations from the Koch brothers came in at 59th in overall political donations:
Fox's narrative that conservative groups are not heavily involved in the political process was debunked a short time later on Fox News itself. On America's Newsroom, Peter Doocy admitted that the Obamacare horror story advertisements heavily promoted on the network have, in fact, been funded by right-leaning organizations, calling groups like Americans for Prosperity "very involved" in pushing campaign ads:
MACALLUM: Peter, how involved are these outside groups really in the early ad campaigns we're seeing?
DOOCY: Very involved, Martha. Especially the right-leaning Americans for Prosperity who has already spent to $30 million since late summer to introduce America to people they say are victims of obamacare.
Reid was correct in tying these advertisements to right-leaning groups. The Washington Post's Fact Checker notes that the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity "has run about 50 anti-Obamacare ads since July."
Another Washington Post article quotes Tim Phillips, the president of American for Prosperity, saying that the health care law "has been the predominant focus of both our grass roots and our advertising efforts." This is evidenced by the $30 million the group has put forth on attack advertisements, 95% of which has gone towards ads that specifically target the Affordable Care Act. The article also noted that Americans for Prosperity is not the only conservative group creating these ads:
In Senate races, where control of the chamber is on the line, all but $240,000 of the $21.2 million that super PACs are spending on television advertising has gone into attacks centered on the health-care law, said Matt Canter, deputy executive director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. The exceptions were ad buys in three states that criticized Democratic senators for supporting President Obama's judicial nominees.
Fox News is helping promote Sen. Tom Coburn's misleading report on health care spending, which attacked the Affordable Care Act by cherry-picking data on the rise of spending in health care systems.
The Oklahoma Republican released a report this week titled "The History of Federal Health Care Spending," which attempted to rebut projections that the ACA will reduce the deficit and lower health care costs by presenting data on the cost growth of other federal programs like Medicaid and Medicare. The report argued that that "the government's spending on health care programs usually outpaces economic growth" and that "compared with initial government estimates and outlays, most programs have experienced exponential growth."
On Fox News' America's Newsroom, co-host Bill Hemmer said the report revealed "stunning numbers," while Fox contributor Charles Gasparino endorsed the report's suggestion that the growth in government health care programs contradicted positive projections of the ACA's impact, claiming "when government is this much enmeshed in a program like this, it always leads to disaster":
But Fox's hype ignores the crucial flaw in Coburn's report -- it omits crucial context about why the programs' costs have increased and how they perform at controlling costs when compared to private health insurance.
While it's true that spending on programs such as Medicaid and Medicare have increased over the last 50 years, the cause of those rising costs are not a result of government involvement, but due to the fact that overall spending on health care has increased exponentially. A 2010 report in Health Affairs which tracked Medicare spending over roughly 20 years found that much of the growth "is attributable to rising spending on chronic conditions -- specifically diabetes and hypertension, both of which rose considerably in treated prevalence over the past two decades."
Notably, the Kaiser Family Foundation found that "Since Medicare's inception, however, growth in annual spending per beneficiary has been approximately one percentage point lower than private health insurance spending":
After months of championing anti-gay business owners who refuse service to gay customers because of their religious beliefs, Fox News condemned a proposed Arizona law that would protect businesses that discriminate against gay customers, comparing the measure to "Jim Crow laws."
During the February 25 edition of America's Newsroom, host Martha MacCallum invited Fox News contributor Juan Williams and The Five co-host Andrea Tantaros to discuss Arizona's controversial new anti-gay segregation law, SB 1062 which would protect businesses that refuse to serve gay customers on religious grounds. The measure, which awaits Gov. Jan Brewer's signature, has been condemned by a growing number of conservatives and business owners, including three Republicans senators who regret voting for the bill.
MacCallum, Williams, and Tantaros all condemned the measure, with MacCallum and Tantaros both drawing comparisons between the bill and racist "Jim Crow laws":
TANTAROS: What has happened, Martha, is this has spiraled totally out of control. And so, while the First Amendment is a really strong argument, I don't know why you would want to bring Jim Crow laws back to the forefront for homosexuals.
MACCALLUM: I mean, that's exactly what it sounds like.
TANTAROS: If you're a business owner, I don't know why you'd want to turn business away. And if you're gay, let's say, why would you want the baker of hate baking your cake anyway? Unfortunately, it has taken a really crazy turn and gotten way out of hand. And as Juan mentioned, a number of Republicans, three of them who voted to pass this said that they would change their mind.
MACCALLUM: It sounds like the lunch counter, Juan.
Fox seized on Vice President Joe Biden's acknowledgement that health care enrollments under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) might not reach the Congressional Budget Office's (CBO) original estimate of 7 million people, distorting his comments as an admission of failure by the Obama administration. But Biden's remarks merely echoed the CBO's new estimate of health care enrollment, a number that was neither set by the administration nor necessary for the success of the health care law's exchanges.
During an unannounced stop at a coffee house in Washington D.C. on February 19, Biden explained that health care enrollment numbers "may not get to seven million, we may get to five or six, but that's a hell of a start."
On the February 20 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom, host Martha MacCallum described Biden's comments as "a new admission on Obamacare -- Vice President Joe Biden conceding yesterday that the administration may not reach the sign-up goal that they set for themselves."
Fox News accused an MSNBC contributor of injecting racism into the failed union vote at a Tennessee Volkswagen plant, but the analogy that formed the basis of Fox's phony outrage actually originated with the anti-labor forces Fox was defending.
Last week workers at a Chattanooga, Tennessee, Volkswagen plant voted against organizing with the United Auto Workers union. The vote gained national attention for what some labor experts called the unusual nature of the campaign: While Volkswagen did not oppose unionization, interference was run by national conservative groups like Grover Norquist's Center for Worker Freedom, which, aided by Republican politicians, waged a dishonest publicity war against the union effort.
On February 17, MSNBC contributing writer Timothy Noah ruffled right-wing feathers after he said that the anti-union forces were portraying the UAW as "a union invasion, refighting of the Civil War," adding: "Apparently there are not a lot of black employees in this particular plant, and so that kind-of, waving of the Confederate flag was an effective strategy."
Fox News figures accused Noah of injecting the "tired, old, desperate" racism argument into the union vote. According to The Five co-host Andrea Tantaros, Noah's reference to the Civil War was "shameful" and "really pathetic."
The problem with Fox's indignation is that the Civil War analogy Noah referenced actually originated with the UAW opposition trying to convince workers to vote against organizing.
Right-wing media accused President Obama of unprecedented overreach resembling that of a "dictator" for the ordinary administrative agency rule-making process surrounding the implementation of the Affordable Care Act's (ACA) employer mandate.
Karl Rove has called into question the relevance and efficacy of using Monica Lewinsky as political ammunition to attack Hillary and Bill Clinton in the run-up to the 2016 presidential campaign -- comments that fly in the face of public statements made by RNC chairman Reince Priebus.
On the February 11 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom, Fox contributor Karl Rove criticized Sen. Rand Paul's (R-KY) recent attempts to smear possible presidential candidate Hillary Clinton by bringing up her husband's relationship with Monica Lewinsky. Rove observed that "beating up on Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky" and "spending a lot of time talking about the mistakes of Bill Clinton" do not constitute "a big agenda for the future of the country":
HEMMER: Rand Paul is out there banging on the Clintons every day. Now what's his strategy?
ROVE: Well, I'm not sure he has a strategy, I was intrigued the other day, somebody said why are you doing this and he said people keep asking me about it. I'm not certain that it is -- look, each one of these candidates needs to do two things in 2014. One is they need to make this about something bigger than their own personal ambitions. This can't be 'I want to run for president' --' It's got to be about something bigger than that, and frankly, Rand Paul spending a lot of time talking about the mistakes of Bill Clinton does not look like a big agenda for the future of the country. The second thing that they need to do is they need to strengthen their skills as a candidate. Each one of these people has run and won in a state. Like Rand Paul has won in Kentucky, Chris Christie has won in New Jersey. But they are about ready to enter a contest that's going to be across 30 some-odd states for the primary, 35 or 40 states. They're going to cover most of all of the 50 states -- it's going to be a big complex thing, and they've got to strengthen their skills to get ready for it. I'm not certain again that beating up on Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky is a particularly good thing to strengthen your skills for the 2016 contest.
Two unsubstantiated claims from AOL CEO Tim Armstrong about his company's cuts to retirement plans elicited two very different reactions from one Fox News segment.
Last week, AOL's chief executive officer Tim Armstrong announced that the company was paring down retirement benefits because of the high costs of two employees' "distressed babies" and the increased costs of health care resulting from the Affordable Care Act (ACA or Obamacare). Armstrong later apologized for the statement about the two employees and the company restored the cuts to 401(k) plans.
Discussing the story on Fox's America's Newsroom, host Martha MacCallum performed a rhetorical dance that led an ostensibly critical segment of Armstrong's comments into a fact-free attack on the ACA and a defense of corporate scapegoating.
MacCallum prefaced the segment by noting that, insofar as Armstrong was blaming any babies for cuts to employees' retirement, she felt that the comments were "unfortunate." But then she spring-boarded into her main focus: AOL wouldn't have to do these things if there wasn't a war on business spearheaded by Obamacare. According to MacCallum, AOL's decision to cut 401(k)s "does reflect a reality, an underlying reality, that a lot of companies are facing -- finding ways to make ends meet," yet she never clarified whether AOL is one of the companies facing such an undefined "underlying reality."
She offered an aggressive defense to Fox contributor Leslie Marshall's point that when companies struggle, their executives often do not. "It's always the big, bad company," MacCallum said. "Big, bad corporate America ... is it right to not acknowledge that these companies are under pressures that they were not under before?"
From the February 10 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom:
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Fox News' Bill Hemmer attempted to prop up Republican accusations that President Obama cannot be trusted by fantasizing that Obama's historically low number of executive orders might actually constitute a "presidential record" high.
On the February 10 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom, host Bill Hemmer and Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) questioned Obama's trustworthiness, citing Speaker of the House John Boehner's claim last week that the House could not move forward with immigration reform because of a mistrust in the president. When McCarthy echoed that Obama has created a "lack of trust" with Congress, Hemmer cited Obama's use of executive orders -- perhaps at record highs, according to the host -- as a possible cause of that mistrust:
HEMMER: You talked about Obamacare and executive actions. We have found, going back to March of 2013, 122 executive orders, not just on Obamacare but every executive order, apparently, according to the research through the Federal Register and Whitehouse.gov. 122 going back to March of 2010. I don't know if that's a presidential record, but that goes to the point that you're making, about when you pass laws, and you change laws, what does that law then look like.
Economists are encouraged by reports that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will increase job flexibility by allowing workers to maintain health coverage outside employment, calling the impact good for workers and the economy. But to Fox News, increased flexibility just means increased laziness.
From the February 7 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom:
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The media has extensively reported on the Republican National Committee's decision to boycott MSNBC following an offensive tweet for which the network subsequently apologized. But they've spent far less attention on the fact that the RNC denounced MSNBC while on Fox News -- a network that has frequently aired offensive and derogatory comments.