From the September 20 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom:
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Fox's Martha MacCallum preemptively attacked President Obama's upcoming remarks regarding healthcare costs in relation to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), commonly known as Obamacare, claiming that the truth behind premium costs "flies in the face" of what Obama has previously said and would say in his speech. MacCallum predicted that Obama would incorrectly claim that healthcare costs are lowering -- but Obama reported that while rising healthcare costs are a continuing concern, the rate of increase in costs is at its lowest in 50 years, a fact he's acknowledged in the past.
Discussing Walgreens' recent decision to move some employees to private health insurance exchanges on America's Newsroom, Fox Business host Stuart Varney claimed that Walgreens made their decision because, as he paraphrased, they "can't afford the constant rising cost of healthcare and [they] cannot afford the cost of compliance with Obamacare." MacCallum, along with co-host Bill Hemmer, later responded to the news, saying (emphasis added):
HEMMER: But this is the beginning of a flood. We talked about it last week, when the big companies step up and say we're going to change the policy, many, many others will follow.
MACCALLUM: And it flies in the face of what you're hearing from the president, and we'll hear it today as well: That premiums are going down. That costs are going down. So if costs were truly going down, what would be forcing these companies to push people off of their rolls onto this, you know, 'Here's your check,' and, you know, 'good luck.'
Despite MacCallum's claim, what the president has previously acknowledged is that while healthcare costs are still rising, increases have slowed to their lowest rate in 50 years -- a fact that Fox failed to report.
OBAMA: Healthcare costs, which were and continue to be a major source of concern, are increasing at the slowest rate in 50 years, and for many of you, in terms of your bottom lines, employer based healthcare plans have gone up at about a third of what they were going up when I first took office.
Fox has a habit of pre-emptively dismissing, ignoring, and cutting away from Obama's speeches. MacCallum's misconstruance of Obama's remarks on healthcare costs is not surprising given the network's long history of reporting misinformation about the Affordable Care Act.
From the September 18 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom:
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The Republicans on the House Oversight Committee just released their latest report on last year's attacks in Benghazi. One of its conclusions was that "it is likely, based on email evidence, that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's views played a role in the decision-making" regarding the Benghazi mission. This very carefully hedged and largely toothless allegation is part of the Republican PR strategy to create buzz around the report -- if you want to get reporters talking, you take a swipe at Hillary Clinton. And predictably, Fox News is giving the GOP a hand by lying about the report and overstating what it actually says.
House Oversight Committee member Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) went on Fox News' America's Newsroom this morning to discuss the report and hype up the Benghazi hearings his committee will hold later this week. Host Bill Hemmer was intrigued by the partisan report's findings, and described them for his viewers: "It also points to Hillary Clinton's views, and how they played a major role in the decision-making in Benghazi."
The report doesn't say that. Again, here's what the report says with regard to Clinton, with emphasis added:
E-mails reviewed by the Committee, however, show it is likely that Secretary Clinton's views played some role in the decision making on the future of the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi.
Hemmer transformed that uncertain and weakly supported conclusion into Clinton's views playing "a major role" in Benghazi decision-making. Chaffetz obviously didn't stop to correct Hemmer, because this is precisely what Chaffetz and the Republicans want -- irresponsible media coverage that helps stir up partisan rancor over Benghazi ahead of the hearings.
Fox News promoted research that erroneously suggests current federal debt stands at $70 trillion, a figure that amounts to a scare tactic devoid of relevant context.
On the August 15 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom, hosts Martha MacCallum and Bill Hemmer suggested that the current figure of national debt is grossly underestimated. MacCallum claimed that, according to research by economist James Hamilton, "the true national debt is actually more like $70 trillion and that the government has been lowballing us for years." Hemmer then explained that the figure included Social Security, Medicare, and pension promises and claimed that "America could be in a whole lot of hurt."
The $70 trillion debt figure was also featured prominently in an article on FoxNews.com. According to the article:
Hamilton believes the government is miscalculating what it owes by leaving out certain unfunded liabilities that include government loan guarantees, deposit insurance, and actions taken by the Federal Reserve as well as the cost of other government trust funds. Factoring in those figures brings the total amount the government owes to a staggering $70 trillion, he says.
But according to experts, including liabilities in calculations of debt is inherently misleading.
The first problem is the way in which Fox misleadingly presents the figure as "debt." In an article responding to previous claims of debt being much higher than reported due to unfunded liabilities, The Atlantic's Derek Thompson explained that debt figures shouldn't include future liabilities:
Our $16 trillion in debt and our $87 trillion in "unfunded liabilities" represent two very different ideas: real past promises and projected future promises. Real past promises are, well, very real. We have to pay back our debt. Failing to do it would be an illegal and disastrous default. Unfunded liabilities are future promises, and, since they're not as real, we can change them whenever we want without destroying ourselves. For example, raising the taxable income ceiling and slowing the growth of benefits could reduce the Social Security gap to zero tomorrow.
Indeed, as Media Matters has previously noted, experts agree that citing unfunded liabilities typically amounts to nothing more than a scare tactic, mainly because, as the Congressional Budget Office explained, "no government obligation can be truly considered 'unfunded' because of the U.S. government's sovereign power to tax."
The second problem with Fox's promotion of the figure is that it removes important context, relying on a raw number instead of a relevant percentage. According to Hamilton's report, the bulk of the $70 trillion is due to obligations for Social Security and Medicare -- amounting to a total of $54.1 trillion. But while the figure may seem large, when expressed with relevant context, its gravity is greatly reduced.
In an interview with Media Matters, Josh Bivens, research and policy director at the Economic Policy Institute, explained that when compared with the size of the economy, the liabilities associated with Social Security and Medicare amount to roughly "one and a half percent of GDP." While the figure cited by Fox may be correct, omitting the size of liabilities relative to GDP unnecessarily stokes fears and misinforms viewers.
Furthermore, Bivens noted that other liabilities cited by Hamilton -- such as student loans, housing assistance, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. -- typically have assets directly attached to them that could generate revenue, a fact ignored by the report.
Fox News is turning to anti-immigrant and nativist organizations to further its failed narrative that Mexicans are gaming the immigration system by seeking asylum in the United States.
On August 12, Fox News repeatedly accused Mexicans coming into the United States from the U.S.-Mexico border of "taking advantage of a loophole" to enter the country, by invoking certain phrases like "credible fear" of drug cartels. In fact, petitioning for asylum based on "credible fear" of persecution is a legitimate and long-standing policy in immigration law.
Throughout the day, Fox News hosts and guests continued to push the narrative that immigrants were using these "bogus" asylum claims only to eventually disappear into the country after failing to attend their immigration hearings. As correspondent William LaJeunesse put it: "It's about overwhelming the system and getting released, getting a court date for which no one shows up."
To back up these assertions, Fox News relied on Pete Nunez, whom it identified simply as a former U.S. attorney for Southern California, to reinforce this last point. In numerous segments, Nunez claimed:
NUNEZ: Hundreds of thousands of people have never returned and the list of people for whom warrants are outstanding is phenomenal. So, yeah, we have a long history of people absconding from immigration hearings of one sort or another, they just blend back into the community.
According to the Department of Justice, only 11 percent of immigrants fail to appear for their immigration hearings.
None of the hosts pointed out, however, that while Nunez is indeed a former U.S. attorney for Southern California, he is also the chairman of the Board of Directors at the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) and a member of the National Board of Advisors for the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). CIS is an anti-immigrant and nativist organization whose affiliation with hate groups has been thoroughly documented by the Southern Poverty Law Center. FAIR has similarly been designated a hate group by SPLC.
CIS has a long history of smears and inflammatory rhetoric against immigrants. It has also been exposed as a group that misrepresents evidence and data to substantiate dubious conclusions about immigrants. Frankly, in the words of the Center for the New Community, CIS "has proven not to be a credible voice in the debate on immigration." The American Prospect has charged that "convoluted logic and paranoia is typical of the research" CIS produces.
As to FAIR, SPLC has noted that its "leaders have ties to white supremacist groups and eugenicists and have made many racist statements" and that one of the group's "main goals is upending the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, which ended a decades-long, racist quota system that limited immigration mostly to northern Europeans." FAIR has reportedly received funding from white supremacist groups.
Fox News suggested that Hillary Clinton was lying during congressional testimony about the Benghazi attack by cropping her comments and hyping baseless claims made by a discredited GOP activist. Fox News hosts also dredged up the misleading claim that Clinton dismissed the importance of Benghazi in her testimony.
On America's Newsroom, co-host Bill Hemmer hosted Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) to attack Clinton over Benghazi. During the segment, Hemmer reported on a baseless claim by lawyer and GOP activist Joseph diGenova that the administration is trying to cover up the theft of 400 surface-to-air missiles that were somehow linked to the Benghazi compound. DiGenova, who made these claims during an interview with the Washington, DC-area show Mornings on the Mall, could not name his sources, acknowledged that some of his information is not "verifiable," and provided no evidence to back up the allegation. More generally, diGenova is just not a credible source. Along with his wife, Victoria Toensing, he has donated extensively to Republican candidates and causes, and has a long history of investigating Democrats and defending Republicans, having been accused of lacking "impartiality, non-partisanship, and professionalism."
Hemmer contrasted diGenova's dubious allegation with a cropped clip of Clinton's January 23 congressional testimony in which she denied knowledge of weapons transfers from Libya to Turkey. Hemmer asked Paul whether Clinton was "not telling the truth":
Fox's attack is based on selectively cropping Clinton's comments. During her congressional testimony, Clinton was asked by Paul, "Is the U.S. involved with any procuring of weapons, transfer of weapons, buying, selling, anyhow transferring weapons to Turkey out of Libya?" Fox played a portion of her response, in which Clinton denied having any knowledge of a weapons transfer.
Below is the full transcript of her response to Paul's question in the January 23 hearings, with the portion that Fox omitted highlighted:
From the August 13 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom:
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From the August 12 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom:
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The right-wing media have hyped and distorted a decision to keep congressional staffers on their existing health care plan to accuse the Obama administration of acting with the "whims of a dictatorship."
After the Obama administration agreed to fix a legislative conflict that would have forced congressional staffers off their current health care coverage and into the Affordable Care Act exchanges, the right-wing media accused President Obama of "exempting" Congress from the law. On Fox News' America's Newsroom, co-host Bill Hemmer claimed Obama "personally intervened to make sure that members of Congress and their staffers will not have to live with Obamacare," later saying the decision "is like the oligarchs." Fox contributor Monica Crowley said the decision "is like the whims of a dictatorship." A Wall Street Journal editorial claimed the decision suggests "illegal dispensations for the ruling class, different rules for the hoi polloi."
But the decision fixed a problem that would have treated congressional employees differently from all other Americans. In the Health Affairs blog, health care expert Timothy Jost explained that "Far from exempting Congress from ACA requirements, as some have reported, the amendment subjects members to a legal requirement that will apply to no other Americans":
Fox News assisted Rush Limbaugh in promoting the radio host's 'Limbaugh Theorem,' his attempt to explain why Americans have not been influenced by right-wing smears or Fox's phony scandals -- while hosting Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-MN) to discuss its validity.
Fox's On the Record with Greta Van Susteren dedicated its entire July 30 program to an interview with Limbaugh where he detailed his "Limbaugh Theorem," a hypothesis he frequently discusses on his radio program. According to Limbaugh, President Obama's policies are unpopular, yet Barack Obama himself remains popular, and Limbaugh believes his Theorem explains that apparent conflict: "The way he does this," Limbaugh explained to Van Susteren, "he never appears to be governing. That's why he's constantly campaigning." He continued:
LIMBAUGH: My theory is that Obama has positioned himself as an outsider, not attached to anything that's happening. What he has made happen, he positions himself as opposed to it and against it, and fighting for everybody else to overcome what he has done. And that's one of the reasons why the constant campaign. So he doesn't appear to be governing. So he doesn't appear to be part of Washington. He appears to have this mysterious, powerful bunch of forces that are opposing him, and stopping him from creating jobs. And stopping him from giving people proper healthcare. And stopping him from making their home values go up. And he's constantly out there fighting it. And he does that by constantly campaigning and never seen to be governing.
The Limbaugh Theorem again enjoyed the limelight on Fox the next day when America's Newsroom hosted Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-MN) and asked for her thoughts on Rush's hypothesis. After host Bill Hemmer replayed portions of Van Susteren's interview, he summarized the Limbaugh Theorem, saying, "The other aspect of that interview that Rush had with Greta Van Susteren last night is that he believes the Obama strategy is to disassociate himself with anything that's connected with Washington and play the role of the outsider." Hemmer then asked, "Is that what's going on and does that work?"
Apparently undermining the Limbaugh Theorem, Bachmann claimed that Obama was a "consummate insider" who is "all about DC." Hemmer attempted to steer the conversation back to the Limbaugh Theorem, reframing the question, "Do you think this is a president who runs away from governing or does not attach his name or association in any way to the -- what the Democrats consider, phony scandals in Washington? And that way he doesn't have to hang his name on it."
It is not surprising that Fox is hyping the Limbaugh Theorem -- the phony scandals from which the network and Limbaugh accuse Obama of disassociating himself were manufactured by Fox itself. The two conservative media giants seemed to be at odds after Obama's reelection in 2012, but in recent months Fox has frequently hosted Limbaugh in an apparent attempt to rehabilitate his damaged career.
Fox News baselessly suggested that other U.S. cities may follow Detroit's lead in filing for bankruptcy, citing an outlandish estimate of total state and local unfunded pension liabilities, even though other estimates put the figure at a much lower amount.
On July 18, the city of Detroit filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection, officially becoming the largest city in the United States to do so. According to USA Today, "The bankruptcy petition would seek protection from creditors and unions who are renegotiating $18.5 billion in debt and other liabilities."
On the July 23 edition of America's Newsroom, co-host Bill Hemmer interviewed frequent guest Art Laffer on Detroit's bankruptcy, noting "other cities that could be heading down the same path."
Hemmer and Laffer claimed throughout the segment that unfunded pension liabilities could force other municipalities to file for bankruptcy, with Hemmer going so far as to call pension programs a "Ponzi scheme."
During the segment, Fox aired a graphic that claimed in 2012, total state and local unfunded pension liabilities amounted to more than $4 trillion.
Even after a juror in George Zimmerman's trial for killing Trayvon Martin said that Florida's Stand Your Ground self-defense law influenced the outcome of the case, Fox News hosts and contributors continue to claim otherwise as a means to attack Attorney General Eric Holder for opposing such laws.
Fox News rewrote history to claim that sluggish economic growth began at the start of the Obama administration, completely ignoring that the recession began during George W. Bush's presidency in late 2007.
On the June 27 edition of America's Newsroom, co-host Bill Hemmer interviewed Fox Business host Stuart Varney to discuss the Labor Department's latest weekly jobless claims data that showed a decrease of 9,000 claims from the previous week. Varney, after citing a number of economic indicators, claimed that "we've got another year of slow growth ... and this will be for the fifth year in a row." Hemmer agreed with Varney that slow growth has been in effect "going back to 2009."
By choosing 2009 as the starting point for slow economic growth, the hosts completely obscured the fact that in the quarter prior to Obama's January 20, 2009, inauguration -- the fourth quarter of 2008 -- economic growth fell by 8.9 percent. Moreover, aside from a slight rise in growth in the second quarter of 2008, GDP growth was in apparent decline since 2007.
Absent from the exchange was any explanation as to why current growth is less than robust. Economists have long argued that declines in public sector spending have held the economy back, and while private sector jobs have seen consistent growth since the recession, public sector jobs have dwindled.
Indeed, government spending cuts have consistently lowered GDP growth in recent years. And the most recent estimate of first quarter growth -- revised down to 1.8 percent -- would have been close to one percentage point higher absent fiscal tightening.
Fox News promised that it would "not leave" live coverage of the House hearings on the IRS controversy while paying only lip service to the simultaneous Senate hearings on the epidemic of sexual assaults in the military.
On June 4, the House Ways and Means Committee held another round of hearings on the IRS' inappropriate criteria for scrutinizing conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status. The same day, the Senate Armed Services Committee held hearings on the increasing problem of sexual assaults in the military, featuring testimony from the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and top officers from each military branch.
Fox's America's Newsroom aired live footage of the House's IRS hearing before it began, then stayed live for witness testimony and congressional questioning. When cutting live coverage for commercial breaks, co-host Bill Hemmer assured viewers, "We have to take a commercial, we got to pay some bills here, but we will not leave this hearing."
By contrast, Fox only went live to the sexual assault hearing before it started, airing footage of representatives, staffers, and media figures waiting for the hearing to begin. Next to a splitscreen of the committee room, co-host Martha MacCallum and correspondent Jennifer Griffin discussed the military's growing problem for approximately three minutes before MacCallum cut away, explaining, "You can watch that hearing on our website at FoxNews.com. Click on the link on the homepage. We've got dueling hearings going on this morning."
The epidemic of sexual assaults in the military is a growing problem. A Department of Defense report estimated that 26,000 incidents of sexual assault occurred in 2012 and that 62 percent of victims who reported the assault faced retaliation. During Tuesday's hearing, in testimony Fox did not air, Army Gen. Ray Odierno described the problem: "Sexual assault and harassment are like a cancer within the force -- a cancer that left untreated will destroy the fabric of our force."
America's Newsroom continued with live coverage of the House IRS hearings for the bulk of the two-hour program, never again mentioning the Senate hearings on military sexual assaults.