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.
The Fox contributor appeared on Fox News on May 13 to explain the remarks, reportedly made at a May 8 conference. His claims resurrected an event that right-wing media had previously exploited in order to smear Clinton and push a baseless claim that the administration was attempting to cover-up the truth behind the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya. The then-secretary of state's testimony on the attacks before a House committee was delayed after her fall.
Rove attempted to clarify his remarks in a discussion with co-host Bill Hemmer, stating, "I didn't say she had brain damage."
HEMMER: How did this comment come up suggesting that Hillary Clinton may suffer from brain damage? Where'd that come from, Karl?
ROVE: No, no, no, no. Wait a minute. No, no. I didn't say she had brain damage. She had a serious health episode.
Rove tossed around wild speculation about Hillary's health status, claiming, "We don't know what the doctors said about what does she have to be concerned about. Don't know about -- I mean she's hidden a lot of this." In an interview with the Washington Post published after his Fox appearance, Rove is quoted as saying, "Of course she doesn't have brain damage." But he appeared to echo his speculation about her health to the Post as well:
"Of course she doesn't have brain damage," he said in an interview with The Washington Post.
But Rove said that it is apparent that Clinton suffered "a serious health episode." He added that if she runs for president in 2016, "she is going to have to be forthcoming" about the details of where, how and when it happened.
Contrary to Rove's claims on Fox, we do know happened to Clinton in 2012. She spent four days in the hospital after a blood clot was discovered in her brain several days after her fall. According to experts and the State Department, glasses worn by Clinton during her January 2013 testimony on the attacks in Benghazi were a corrective instrument meant to treat "double vision" as a result of her fall -- not traumatic brain injury.
Fox's Dana Perino debunked the right-wing media's attempt to manufacture a scandal around former Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner's new memoir by claiming that the book reveals that the Obama administration had asked him to lie to the American public.
On May 12 Geithner debuted his new memoir, Stress Test: Reflections on Financial Crises, detailing his time as president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and as Treasury Secretary under the Obama administration during the 2008-2009 financial crisis.
The book's excerpts promptly became fodder for right-wing media outlets, which latched onto two specific anecdotes to declare that the White House had directed Geithner to lie during appearances on the Sunday political talk shows.
At issue is Geithner's description of a prep session for the Sunday political shows in 2011 in which then-communications director Dan Pfeiffer asked him to state that Social Security didn't contribute to the deficit. Geithner wrote how he had objected to the phrasing, because "[i]t wasn't a main driver of our future deficits, but it did contribute."
Because of these anecdotes, Geithner's book represents a "new bombshell," according to Fox News, one that may show "the White House playing politics with the American people, perhaps." America's Newsroom anchor Martha MacCallum claimed:
MacCALLUM: Former Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner has a book. In it -- the excerpts have been released today -- he says that the White House asked him to go a Sunday show and say something that was not completely true, because it worked better for them politically. That is what is being suggested here.
But later the same day, on The Five, co-host Dana Perino, who previously served as press secretary under President George W. Bush, responded to allegations from her co-hosts that the White House had asked Geithner to lie. Perino explained that the way Geithner was asked to to discuss Social Security made sense "from a communications standpoint":
PERINO: I can actually understand the Geithner thing. It's like saying, "Hey, can you not try to say this point about Social Security?" I don't think that is asking Geithner to specifically lie. I can understand from a communications standpoint you're asking the principle and the policy person, "How far can you go to say X,Y, or Z?"
Fox News also quoted from "a source close to Geithner" who pointed out that he "does not believe he was encouraged to go out and mislead the public on the Sunday shows":
After the anecdote began to generate attention on Monday, a source close to Geithner clarified to Fox News that the former secretary "does not believe he was encouraged to go out and mislead the public on the Sunday shows."
The source said all the former secretary was trying to get across was that Pfeiffer wanted him to "send a signal" to liberals about the president's commitment to not allowing major cuts to Social Security.
From the May 8 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom:
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Fox News has pushed reset on many of its favorite Benghazi myths that have already been put to rest in the wake of the recently released Rhodes email and the House GOP's announcement of the formation of a Select Committee to investigate the attacks.
From the May 7 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom:
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Fox News attempted to spin a new climate change report as a mere distraction from "multiple scandals swirling around the administration," ignoring that the report was legally mandated by Congress under a law signed by former President George H.W. Bush.
On May 6, the Obama administration released the third National Climate Assessment (NCA), a report compiled by over two hundred climate scientists over a four-year period. The report concluded that unabated climate change would pose many dangers to the U.S. including increasing drought and wildfires in the Southwest, and coastal flooding from rising sea levels and increased precipitation in the Northeast.
The May 6 edition of America's Newsroom opened with co-host Bill Hemmer's supposition that the Obama administration's "dire new report on global warming" may be intended "to distract Americans" from the "multiple scandals swirling around the administration." Co-host Martha MacCallum went on to elevate Sen. Jim Inhofe's claim that the climate change report is "part of the game the president is playing" to distract Americans from "his unchecked regulatory agenda":
On the May 2 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom:
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Fox News is using a newly released White House memo disclosing media talking points for Obama administration officials as vindication of its campaign of lies and misinformation about the Benghazi terror attacks.
Fox News figures have revived calls for a select committee to investigate the September 11, 2012, attacks in Benghazi, Libya, by falsely claiming a newly released email proves the Obama administration attempted to cover up the truth about the attack's origin.
Fox News seized on testimony from Ret. Air Force Brigadier General Robert Lovell to push the false narrative that President Obama did not do enough to rescue the victims of the Benghazi attack, a claim that collapsed after Lovell clarified that he was not making that point.
During the May 1 Congressional hearing on Benghazi, Lovell, who was stationed in Germany at the time of the attack, testified that "we should have tried" to rescue the victims of the attack. Fox News immediately hyped Lovell's testimony as evidence the Obama administration did not engage in a rescue attempt. On America's Newsroom, Fox's digital politics editor Chris Stirewalt called Lovell's testimony "incredibly damning," saying: "if there is a true national shame in this incident was that we did not try. We had been told repeatedly by the Obama administration that we could not try and that it was known that it would have been impossible to have helped those who were eventually killed":
Fox's attack collapsed later in the day, however. During the question and answer portion of the testimony, Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA) asked Lovell specifically about claims that the military had resources that they did not utilize. Lovell explained that when he said "we should have tried," he did not mean that the response was insufficient and that it is a "fact" that there was nothing more the military could have done:
CONNELLY: I want to read to you the conclusion of the chairman of the [Armed Services] Committee, the Republican chairman Buck McKeon, who conducted formal briefings and oversaw that report he said quote "I'm pretty well satisfied that given where the troops were, how quickly the thing all happened, and how quickly it dissipated we probably couldn't have done much more than we did." Do you take issue with the chairman of the Armed Services Committee? In that conclusion?
LOVELL: His conclusion that he couldn't have done much more than they did with the capability and the way they executed it?
CONNELLY: Given the timeframe.
LOVELL: That's a fact.
LOVELL: The way it is right now. The way he stated it.
CONNELLY: Alright, because I'm sure you can appreciate, general, there might be some who, for various and sundry reasons would like to distort your testimony and suggest that you're testifying that we could have, should have done a lot more than we did because we had capabilities we simply didn't utilize. That is not your testimony?
LOVELL: That is not my testimony.
CONNELLY: I thank you very much, general.
From the May 1 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom:
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As the United States Senate voted on a bill that would increase the federal minimum wage, Fox News dedicated 15 times more coverage to the latest "developments" in its on-going campaign to create a political scandal from the September 11, 2012 terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya.
From the April 30 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom:
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