A New York Times essay by Jason DeParle highlighted a resurgence of the use of the word "welfare" among conservatives, this time to attack President Obama's economy recovery plan. Indeed, while economists agree that provisions in the legislation targeting needy people are among the most economically stimulative, Media Matters documents below the pervasiveness of what DeParle called the "weaponiz[ation]" of the "very word, welfare," in the media, particularly, but not exclusively on Fox News, to denounce the stimulus bill.
Fox News' Trace Gallagher and Brian Wilson cited the "irony" of snowfall in Washington, D.C., and elsewhere in the U.S. on the day Al Gore testified on global warming before a Senate committee, which Bill Hemmer stated was "making for an inconvenient forecast." But climate scientists -- including at least one who has disputed aspects of the scientific consensus on global warming -- completely reject the notion that short-term changes in weather, let alone an individual winter storm in January, bear any relevance to the global warming debate.
In recent days, Fox News anchors and contributors have falsely asserted, repeatedly, that people who don't pay taxes would be eligible for a $500 individual tax credit included in President-elect Barack Obama's proposed economic recovery plan, echoing an oft-repeated myth from the presidential campaign that Obama's proposed tax cuts would go to people who don't pay taxes. In fact, Obama has proposed a tax credit for working Americans, meaning they do pay Social Security and Medicare taxes.
On Fox News' America's Newsroom, Andrea Tantaros falsely claimed that "[t]his past weekend," President-elect Barack Obama said that "the economy is only gonna get worse." Tantaros continued: "Well, you can't say that kind of thing when you're president. ... He's got to be more positive." Co-host Bill Hemmer did not point out in response to Tantaros that Obama did not say "the economy is only gonna get worse"; he said the economy would get worse but would subsequently recover.
On-screen text on Fox News echoed the Drudge Report in falsely claiming that Sen. Barack Obama said it is a "tragedy" that the Supreme Court has not addressed wealth redistribution. In fact, the "tragedy" Obama identified during the interview was in what he said was the civil rights movement's overreliance on the courts to pursue political and economic justice.
Fox News' Gregg Jarrett falsely asserted that The New York Times recently found that "the average plumber would pay less in taxes under John McCain than Barack Obama." In fact, the Times did not assess how "the average plumber" would fare under Obama's and McCain's tax plans -- he or she would get a bigger tax cut under Obama's plan, according to the Tax Policy Center -- but, rather, how their respective plans would affect an individual who is "a partner of a two-person company," that earns $280,000 "after business expenses are deducted," "[o]wns his own home and itemizes his taxes," "[i]s divorced but does not pay alimony," and "is a single parent with one dependent child."
Fox News' Megyn Kelly mocked ACORN's statement that it was required under Florida law to submit a voter registration form filed under the name "Mickey Mouse" to the Orange County, Florida, board of elections. In fact, Florida law calls for entities withholding voter registration forms to face a fine of $1,000 for each registration they withhold.
On Fox News' America's Newsroom, Megyn Kelly falsely suggested it was publicly revealed that PBS' Gwen Ifill was the author of the forthcoming book, The Breakthrough, only after it was announced she would moderate the upcoming vice presidential debate. In fact, media outlets, including the Associated Press, reported that Ifill was the book's author well before the announcement.
Fox News co-host Megyn Kelly did not challenge McCain campaign senior adviser Nancy Pfotenhauer to reconcile her criticism of Sen. Barack Obama during the segment with her assertion that Sen. John McCain said, 'I'm going to put politics on hold 40 days out from an election, withdraw some $12 million in paid media and advertising off the airs in order to do what's right and put the country first.' "
Since the release of an Obama campaign ad asserting that Sen. John McCain "admits he still doesn't know how to use a computer, can't send an email," several Fox News figures and talk-radio hosts have claimed that McCain doesn't use a computer or email because of injuries he sustained during his service in the Vietnam War. But the McCain campaign itself did not make this claim in response to the ad, reportedly responding that "John McCain travels with a laptop."
Fox & Friends and America's Newsroom both aired a new ad by Sen. John McCain's campaign that accuses Sen. Barack Obama's campaign of being "disrespectful" to Gov. Sarah Palin. However, none of the hosts on either show gave any indication that the ad contains several distortions.
On America's Newsroom, in response to Sen. Barack Obama's statement that false rumors are "being promulgated on Fox News" about his purported "Muslim connections," Bill Hemmer asserted that "[n]o one here is promulgating untrue rumors about anyone's faith." In fact, Fox News hosts have repeatedly promoted false reports about Obama's religion, including the false report that Obama was educated in a madrassa.
America's Newsroom co-host Bill Hemmer failed to challenge Republican strategist Andrea Tantaros' false claims that "[Sen.] Barack Obama has not authored a single piece of legislation" and that "Barack Obama has dealt with zero foreign policy." In fact, Obama has sponsored or been a key co-sponsor of numerous bills, including an initiative to secure unguarded weapons stockpiles in foreign countries.
On America's Newsroom, during a segment about Sen. Hillary Clinton's convention speech, Fox News aired on-screen text that asked: "Was Hillary Clinton's speech more diss than endorsement for [Sen. Barack] Obama?" But at no point during the segment did Fox News present evidence that Clinton's speech was, in fact, a "diss" of Obama.
Fox News' Juan Williams asserted of Michelle Obama's upcoming speech at the DNC: "Well, she's got to be herself, but I do not think she can go for it all out in terms of this kind of militant anger that she sometimes uses." Williams gave no examples of what he claims to be "this kind of militant anger" that Michelle Obama "sometimes uses."