Six months after the tragic Newtown school shooting, Fox & Friends highlighted a gun manufacturer's high profits but failed to recognize victims of gun violence in Newtown or elsewhere in the country.
On December 14, the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT, left 26 people dead, including 20 children, and helped to spark a national debate about preventing gun violence and stronger gun laws. Six months later, gun manufacturer Smith & Wesson reported record earnings, which CNN Money attributed to a "spike in demand from consumers fearing that the national debate over gun control would yield new regulations limiting their ability to buy certain firearms."
But Fox & Friends ignored the Newtown victims exactly six months after the school shooting, instead highlighting how gun sales have soared in response to congressional debate over tougher gun laws. In Fox & Friends' "News by the Numbers" feature, co-host Brian Kilmeade said:
KILMEADE: First, 10 percent. That's how much stock for Smith & Wesson is up since the start of the year. The company helped by strong demand and fears of increased gun regulations.
In contrast to how Fox & Friends handled the report, CNN's Starting Point similarly mentioned the gun industry's "record" sales in recent months, but also took time to recognize the victims of the Newtown shooting. CNN host Christine Romans noted that the trend of increasing gun sales "accelerated after the Newtown shootings, which happened six months ago today."
The Fox News show America's Newsroom, which follows Fox & Friends, aired part of a Newtown moment of silence in remembrance of the shooting victims.
Fox News host Brian Kilmeade's praise of a British nationalist hate group leader as doing "great" work is being criticized by that nation's journalists, who call the group "thuggish" and "unsavory."
Kilmeade drew criticism after he praised English Defence League co-founder Tommy Robinson during a June 10 interview on his Fox News Radio program. Kilmeade told Robinson "we got your back" and said, "it's great what you're doing."
Numerous U.S. outlets, including Fox News, have previously detailed the violent and fringe nature of the EDL, which has clashed with police during anti-Muslim protests.
Kilmeade's treatment of a group known for its anti-Muslim hatred did not sit well with those in the United Kingdom who have reported on EDL and Robinson.
"No great surprise but still disturbing that a Fox News extremist will cuddle up to a British hate extremist with a number of convictions for violence and who served time behind bars after he was caught trying to enter the U.S. with a false passport," Kevin Maguire, associate editor of the Daily Mirror and a political columnist, wrote in an email.
Robinson (whose real name is Stephen Lennon) used a false identity document to enter the United States to attend an anti-Islam event with anti-Islam blogger Pamela Geller. Robinson pleaded guilty and was jailed in January and released in February. His offense was not his first brush with the law.
"So we may add hypocrisy to the charge sheet against Fox," added Maguire, "when the channel demands America's borders be secure yet hails a violent man who tried to sneak into the US with somebody else's ID."
Maguire described Robinson as "thuggish" and his supporters as "Nazi-saluting followers."
Fiona Hamilton, a crime reporter for The Times of London, which is also headed by Rupert Murdoch, said of Kilmeade and others who offered supportive comments or favorable interviews to EDL, "I think they should take a closer look at what they stand for, definitely. This is a man who said he would ban the future building of mosques."
She said the group is "viewed as extremists" in the U.K., adding, "I don't think you would find a majority of Britains who would agree with the English Defence League."
John Higginson, political editor of Metro -- a free London newspaper owned by the Daily Mail parent company -- said Kilmeade's comments were a mistake.
"The BBC wouldn't say 'I've got your back.' If he is saying that, he is condoning these extremist views," Higginson said. "The EDL, some of what they're preaching is to get rid of people just on religious grounds, just being a Muslim. To be saying that, it is bad."
Tom Whitehead, security editor at The Telegraph of London, has covered the EDL and called them "a fairly extreme right-wing group" that engages in "threats and incidents of violence." He said that if a British journalist echoed Kilmeade's views, "it wouldn't be seen very favorable to all. Personally, I certainly would not condone that at all."
Right-wing media have repeatedly used dishonest and misleading charts from Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) to decry spending on nutrition assistance and other programs for needy Americans.
Fox News, Fox Nation, and The Weekly Standard have, over the course of many months, taken charts from Sessions' staff depicting spending on food stamps (also known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP) and other spending on low-income Americans in grossly misleading ways with out-of-context numbers. On June 12, Fox & Friends First cited Sessions when airing a graphic showing spending on SNAP being more than five times greater than spending on veterans job training and education programs:
Similar charts appeared on Fox Nation and The Weekly Standard. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projection that is cited on the graph does not list any spending on veterans job training and education, so that number cannot be verified. But the White House projects that spending on this program will increase over the next five years, after it already grew dramatically after 2009 -- while spending on SNAP is projected to decrease over the same five-year period.
But it is ridiculous to compare a veterans education program -- which is limited to only military veterans and thus a very small segment of the population -- to SNAP, which is an income security program (indeed, it is listed as such in the CBO document) and is open to every American that meets eligibility requirements. And many veterans and their families are eligible for SNAP and active-duty service members and their families use the benefits. But if one was to look at income security spending for veterans, CBO projections show that more is actually spent on veterans -- a total of $801 billion on income security for veterans over 10 years, and a much larger amount than the veterans program highlighted by Sessions and the right-wing media.
During the segment, Fox Business' Diane Macedo noted that "the USDA also provides bonuses totaling about $50 million per year to states that meet high enrollment targets." These awards, which Sessions brought up on Fox News in June 2012, date back to the Bush administration, and have their origin in the 2002 farm bill.
Fox News host Brian Kilmeade told the leader of a violent nationalist hate group that targets British Muslims, "We got your back" and "it's great what you're doing."
Kilmeade offered his endorsement to the English Defence League (EDL) and co-founder Tommy Robinson, who appeared as a guest on the June 10 edition of Kilmeade's Fox News Radio program. Kilmeade's support followed an interview in which Robinson railed against the immigration of Muslims into the United Kingdom, and warned of Muslims "forcefully putting us under Sharia" Law and planning a "silent takeover" to "implement Sharia" in his country and across the world.
Robinson (whose real name is Stephen Lennon) also said he didn't regret his recent conviction for using a false identity document to enter the United States to attend an anti-Islam event with anti-Islam blogger Pamela Geller. Robinson pleaded guilty and was jailed in January and released in February. Robinson's offense was not his first brush with the law.
Fox News has previously reported on the violent and fringe nature of the EDL. On August 28, 2010, America's News HQ anchor Gregg Jarrett noted there were "hundreds of extreme right-wing protesters rioting in northern England. Members of the so-called English Defence League tossing bottles and rocks at police in the city of Bradford. There's the map. Police penned the group in, keeping them away from a separate rally headed by a leftist group. The English Defence League opposes what it calls the spread of Sharia Law and Islamic extremism in England. Police arrested five people, but there are no reports of any injuries."
Several other news outlets have similarly described the EDL as a violent and extreme anti-Muslim group:
Fox News carried water for Republican Governor Rick Perry by giving a new ad campaign to persuade businesses to relocate to Texas free exposure three times during one show and ignoring problems with Texas' economic environment.
On June 10, Perry launched an ad campaign in New York and Connecticut that framed Texas as a "[l]and of opportunity, home of creative renegades, where dreams become reality" in an effort to lure businesses to his state. According to the Texas Tribune, the New York ad buy "dwarfs" Governor Perry's previous efforts to publicize "his message of low taxes, predictable regulations, fair courts and a skilled workforce to employers" in California and Illinois. The Texas Tribune also reported that Perry is visiting Connecticut and New York in coming days to push the ad's message.
Fox has previously helped Perry connect his deregulatory and anti-tax policies to job creation, and the network continued to uncritically promote Perry's agenda by playing his new ad three times on Fox & Friends. Co-host Brian Kilmeade relayed Perry's message that "you can be bigger and better in Texas" and noted that Perry "wants to highlight the state's low taxes and fewer regulations," and co-host Gretchen Carlson later repeated the statements verbatim.
But Fox's promotion of Perry's policies ignored how Texas' economic environment affects workers in the state.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Texas' poverty rate of 17 percent is 2.7 percentage points higher than the national average. The Bureau of Labor Statistics further reports that the state has the second highest percentage of workers paid at or below the minimum wage, at 7.5 percent.
According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Texas has the 7th largest income disparity in the nation. Between the late 1990s and mid-2000s, the state's poorest 20 percent of households saw, on average, a 10 percent decrease in income as incomes for the wealthiest Texans rose 10.7 percent.
Gallup recently reported that Texas had highest percentage of uninsured adults in 2012, for the fifth year in a row. With 28.8 percent of adult Texans uninsured, the state set the record for highest percentage recorded since Gallup began tracking the figure in 2008, widenening its gap over Louisiana to 4.8 percentage points.
A Fox News host warmly welcomed former Republican Congressman Allen West to "the team" after he said that Attorney General Eric Holder is a bigger threat to Americans than the leader of Al Qaeda.
In a June 5 fundraising email, West claimed that Attorney General Holder was a "bigger threat to our Republic" than terrorist Ayman al-Zawahiri, a former deputy of Osama bin Laden, who took control of al Qaeda after bin Laden's death. West also used a quote from the ancient philosopher Cicero to imply that Holder was guilty of treason.
The June 7 edition of Fox & Friends gave West a platform to expand on his smear. West answered co-host Brian Kilmeade's question about why he claimed Holder was as dangerous as al-Zawahiri by pointing to Cicero's claim that a nation "cannot survive treason from within" and "[a] murderer is less to fear, the traitor is the plague." West charged Holder with having "the arrogance of officialdom," and claimed that "When the rule makers are not adhering to the rule of law, then the very foundations of this great nation will start to crumble."
Co-host Brian Kilmeade took a moment at the end of the segment to thank West for his input and welcome him to the Fox News team:
KILMEADE: Lt. Col. Allen West, always swimming against the tide, telling us how he feels. It's great to have you on board and a member of the team.
Fox & Friends teased West's appearance by airing a graphic showing Holder and al-Zawahiri, which asked "who's the bigger threat?"
From the June 6 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
Loading the player ...
Fox News cited dubious evidence in an attempt to tie the Obama administration to the IRS' targeting of conservative groups, claiming that inaccurate White House visitor logs revealed collusion between the White House and former IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman.
Following reports that the IRS inappropriately targeted conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status, Fox has attempted to link the Obama administration to the scandal, baselessly accusing the administration of continuing to use improper screening to scrutinize nonprofit groups and ignoring Obama's condemnation of the IRS' actions to justify calls for a special prosecutor to investigate the case.
Fox & Friends furthered these efforts by airing a graphic based on data from the Daily Caller that purported to compare the number of times Shulman visited the White House as IRS commissioner to other top administration officials. Co-host Brian Kilmeade questioned why Shulman had visited the White House more than others, implying Shulman was hiding the purpose of his visits, while co-host Steve Doocy cited "critics" who claim the data showed Shulman must have been coordinating with administration officials on the IRS' targeting of conservative groups:
However, the Daily Caller article Fox cited for the graphic debunked its own data, noting that White House visitor logs "do not give a complete picture of White House access." High-level officials with clearance often do not have to sign in during visits, and scheduled meetings are often not included. The Daily Caller concluded, "it is probable that the vast majority of visits by major cabinet members do not end up in the public record." For example, one of the officials compared to Shulman was Jack Lew, who worked as White House chief of staff from January 2012 to Januay 2013, and thus would have been present at the White House on many more occasions than the data revealed.
Fox News suggested that national security adviser Tom Donilon is unfit for his position by accusing him of being missing during the night of terrorist attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya. In fact, congressional testimony showed that Donilon was in contact with then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton throughout the night of the attacks.
On May 30, Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade stated that "no one seemed to know where [Donilon] was" during the September 11, 2012, attacks in Benghazi, asking, "Where was he that night?" Kilmeade questioned Donilon's presence despite showing a photo of Donilon attending a briefing of President Obama on the Benghazi attack in the White House that day. On-screen text during the segment asked, "Where was Donilon on night of Benghazi?"
Kilmeade repeated the false claim that Obama was missing that night as well. Beyond Donilon's presence during a White House briefing of the president on the Benghazi attacks, Clinton said in congressional testimony in January that she was in contact with both Obama and Donilon throughout the night of the attacks:
CLINTON: I spoke to the national security adviser, Tom Donilon, several times. I briefed him on developments. I sought all possible support from the White House, which they quickly provided. Tom was my first call.
So it was a constant, ongoing discussion and sets of meetings. I spoke with President Obama later in the evening, to, you know, bring him up to date, to hear his perspective. Obviously, we kept talking with everyone during the night. Early in the morning, on the 12th, I spoke with General Dempsey, again, with Tom Donilon.
Additionally, Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, testified before Congress in February that the president's "staff was engaged with the national military command center pretty constantly through the period" of the attacks.
Fox News is campaigning for New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly as mayor of New York City, praising the potential Republican candidate and urging New Yorkers to "beg" Kelly to run.
Fox's push for Kelly as a mayoral candidate started with a May 20 interview with Kelly on Fox & Friends. During that interview, co-host Brian Kilmeade inquired whether or not Kelly was going to run for mayor, asking the Commissioner when he would make the decision. Kelly replied with laughter.
Days after the interview, News Corp CEO and Fox News owner Rupert Murdoch praised Kelly on Twitter. In one May 25 tweet, Murdoch claimed that Kelly was the "[o]nly hope of averting disaster for NY":
In another May 25 tweet, Murdoch praised Kelly as modest:
Following these tweets, during the May 29 Fox & Friends Kilmeade once again praised Kelly and claimed that New Yorkers should "come together and beg" Kelly to run. Kilmeade concluded that Kelly "has to run."
All of this praise comes amid speculation that Kelly is considering a campaign. A May 28 NBC New York affiliate blog post claimed that Kelly had not ruled out running, saying that "when pressed on whether he was ruling [a run for mayor] out, Kelly would only say: 'no plans.'" The blog post also noted that there had been rumors swirling about a Kelly candidacy since the last mayoral race.
Fox News continued its scandal-mongering campaign with an attempt to connect a Department of the Interior (DOI) investigation of the Gibson Guitar Corporation to recent reports that the IRS paid undue scrutiny to conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status, misrepresenting Gibson Guitar CEO Henry Juszkiewicz's political donations to Republicans and Democrats to claim that the Gibson Guitar investigation was politically motivated.
In 2009 and 2011, agents from the DOI's Fish and Wildlife Bureau investigated Gibson Guitar premises on suspicion that the company had violated environmental protections by illegally importing certain types of wood. Gibson Guitar admitted that it "may have violated" Madagascan laws and agreed to pay a $300,000 fine. The 2011 investigation was widely reported on by the media, but at the time, only Fox baselessly speculated that the political leanings of Juszkiewicz were to blame for the investigation into Gibson Guitar.
On May 28, Fox & Friends co-hosts again focused on the Gibson Guitar DOI investigation, reaching to connect it to reports that the IRS inappropriately targeted conservative groups, reports which Fox have relentlessly pushed to frame as part of a larger government scandal. Co-host Brian Kilmeade suggested that the existence of the IRS investigation report raised the possibility that Gibson Guitar may have been mistaken in thinking that its alleged improper use of "this eccentric, very rare wood was the reason why they were being investigated" by the DOI, and co-host Gretchen Carlson noted:
CARLSON: At the time there were whispers: oh, you know, the guy who runs the company is a conservative, he's given to Republicans in the past. Maybe that could have had something to do with it, because it turns out that they had done absolutely nothing wrong at the company. Well now some people are trying to put together the dots and draw the lines based on this IRS investigation. Could it be that some of these other things that were going on were also concerted targeted things?
But in 2011, Juszkiewicz himself directly pushed back against speculation that Gibson Guitar was targeted for political reasons. As The Wall Street Journal reported (emphasis added):
The fact that Gibson was singled out when other guitar makers use the same woods has fed speculation that the company was targeted--because it is not unionized, perhaps, or didn't donate enough to the Democratic Party.
"I don't think it's a political issue," Mr. Juszkiewicz says, shaking his head. "But I will say this: I wrote a letter to President Obama. I spelled out what happened. I said: You know, we got raided and here are the facts, I think it's unfair. What do you think we should do? No response."
Furthermore, in attempting to frame Juszkiewicz as a victim of political targeting, Carlson highlighted the fact that he had "given to Republicans in the past." However, Juszkiewicz's own campaign donations reveal that he donated to both Republican and Democratic campaigns in the 2012 cycle. An OpenSecrets.org search of political donation listed under the name Henry Juszkiewicz from "Gibson Guitar" from the 2008, 2010, and 2012 cycles yielded this list:
The vast majority Juszkiewicz's contributions went to the Consumer Electronics Association, which donated $163,300 to Republicans and $69,900 to Democrats in the 2012 cycle.
As Media Matters previously reported, there were legal reasons why Gibson Guitar was singled out for investigation. Quinnipiac University School of Law professor John Thomas noted that while other companies also import unfinished wood from India, irregularities on Gibson Guitar's paperwork raised red flags, and court documents have suggested that Gibson Guitar "knew that it was buying illegal woods" from Madagascar:
My take is that the 2009 and 2011 seizures are related in that Gibson's conduct has given USFW [US Fish and Wildlife Service] officials probable cause to be suspicious of Gibson's wood-buying activities. In 2008, Gibson, Martin, and Taylor officials [Guitar companies] toured Madagascar and observed the illegal logging operations. Martin and Taylor promptly stopped using Madagascar woods; Gibson did not. Internal Gibson emails, as quoted by the US Attorney's office appear to indicate that Gibson knew that it was buying illegal woods. Federal officials seized that wood and as per the 2008 Lacey Act amendments, need not charge Gibson with a crime. Gibson must prove the legality of the wood to secure its return. Gibson has been unable to do that. [After the November 2009 raid, Gibson stopped buying wood from Madagascar.]
The 2011 seizure concerned Indian woods that would be legal but for the thickness. I believe that USFW is investigating because of suspicions due to 1) Gibson using the same wood supplier as it did for the Madagascar woods, 2) irregularities in the wood designations on the paperwork that could be due to innocent error or intentional attempt to deceive officials as to the thickness of the wood and 3) though Gibson is the ultimate purchaser, the paperwork lists an intermediary, LMI, which delivers the wood to a warehouse near the Nashville airport. Gibson retrieves a bit of the wood at a time when it needs it.
Fox News personalities have seized on the brutal killing of a soldier in London to rail against immigration, claiming that immigration policies are partly to blame for the attacks. Conservative media figures similarly used the Boston bombing to condemn immigration and undermine immigration reform.
From the May 24 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
Loading the player ...
Fox News figures scapegoated Islam and promoted Islamophobia following an attack in London reportedly perpetrated by radical extremists which has been denounced by Muslim organizations in Britain.
Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade dismissed the assertions of interrogation experts and those familiar with the Guantánamo Bay military commission system that keeping the prison open and holding trials there help terrorist organizations recruit more members.