From the September 12 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
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One of the core Benghazi lies perpetuated by Fox News is that a U.S. military response could have saved the lives of those killed in the Benghazi attacks. Consistently, numerous Fox personalities and others in the conservative media have gone as far as claiming the administration left our men to die in Benghazi.
Some suggested that this was made as part of a "political calculation;" others suggested the administration decided the lives lost were "expendable" or that it was "probably a political decision not to rescue them."
These accusations, despite flying in the face of the facts -- most notably that Glen Doherty, who was killed by mortar fire on the roof of the CIA Annex was a member of the rescue team that arrived from Tripoli, shortly before the second wave of the attack began -- have continued unrelenting on Fox and in the conservative media.
This morning, Fox & Friends hosted the authors of Under Fire: The Untold Story of the Attack in Benghazi, former diplomatic security agent Fred Burton and journalist Samuel M. Katz.
Co-host Brian Kilmeade hoped to continue to perpetuate the myth that no help was sent to those in Benghazi:
KILMEADE: When we saw Gregory Hicks last, he said that he did believe that they could have been saved, at least help could have been sent on the way sometime in the hours of the attack that went on. What did your research reveal?
Katz's reply was clear: "Help did go to Benghazi, and I think one of the untold stories of the attack in Benghazi a year ago today, was the fact that when word hit the embassy in Tripoli, the CIA staffers, the contractors, as well as two JSOC operators didn't hesitate for a moment."
Katz continued, "They made it there under Libyan circumstances, as quickly as humanly possible. ... The embassy relentlessly tried to figure out transportation. They used a Libyan air force C-130, and at Benghazi airport, controlled by one of the militias, they were held up in Benghazi for four hours."
The entire conservative line of attack fell apart in a single sentence: "Help did go to Benghazi."
Fox & Friends invited former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld onto the program this morning for an unintentionally awkward round of Obama bashing regarding the situation in Syria. (The "so-called commander in chief" is how Rumsfeld mocked the president.) As part of Fox's relentless critique of the president's handling of Syria, and his call for military strikes in response to the Syrian government's use of chemical weapons against its own people, Fox & Friends attacked Obama for moving too slowly.
Twice during the interview, Steve Doocy complained that Obama had previously "delayed" launching the successful attack that captured and killed Osama bin Laden. The fact that Doocy made the point to Rumsfeld, who as Secretary of Defense, could not locate bin Laden for seven-plus years in the wake of the Sept. 11 terror attacks, was clumsy at best.
Even more awkward though, was Brian Kilmeade's accusation put to Rumsfeld that the Obama White House had allegedly sent mixed messages to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad [emphasis added].
KILMEADE: Do you blame Assad for getting mixed signals from the very people now asking for war? From the people that once put their hand of friendship out?
Kilmeade wanted to know from Rumsfeld whether a Middle Eastern dictator accused of gassing people had been sent mixed messages from American officials who extended their hand of friendship but now threaten to use military force.
Well, Rumsfeld ought to know:
Fox News host Brian Kilmeade falsely asserted that State Department official Patrick Kennedy was not interviewed during an investigation into the September 2012 attack on a U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya that killed a U.S. ambassador and three security personnel. In fact, Kennedy was interviewed by the State Department's Accountability Review Board (ARB).
In a September 4 Fox & Friends interview with Samuel Katz and Fred Burton, authors of Under Fire: The Untold Story of the Attack in Benghazi, Kilmeade asked Burton who he would have interviewed had he been running the investigation into the attack. Kilmeade's questioning asserted that State Department Undersecretary for Management Patrick Kennedy was never interviewed about the attack:
KILMEADE: You want Patrick Kennedy, too?
BURTON: I think Patrick Kennedy should be interviewed. I think Patrick Kennedy is all over this case.
But Kennedy was interviewed by the ARB, which was conducted by Ambassador Thomas Pickering and former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen. On May 12, Pickering told CNN's Candy Crowley "[w]e interviewed Pat Kennedy" in response to criticism from Republicans that the ARB report was incomplete. Furthermore, Congressman Gerald Connolly (D-VA) said during a May 8 House Oversight Committee hearing:
By the way, defend in statements that Undersecretary Kennedy was not interviewed by the ARB by Ambassador Pickering and Admiral Mullen. That is a misstatement of fact. He most certainly was. You can look it up. It is documented. He was interviewed, and he provided evidence. And that evidence was evaluated.
So it is not true that Undersecretary Kennedy was not part of that process. He most certainly was, and I would ask Mr. Chairman that the record so reflect.
Fox News host Greta Van Susteren even tweeted Rep. Connolly's statement at the hearing:
Despite this Benghazi myth being debunked months ago, Fox & Friends hosts and guests continue to insist that a top State Department official was never interviewed about the Benghazi attack just to dishonestly attack the Obama administration.
Fox News covered up Republican support for defense cuts, letting Republican Congressman Mike Turner (OH) blame President Obama for the cuts, despite the fact that Turner himself voted for them.
On September 3, Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade interviewed Rep. Turner, who linked across-the-board budget cuts, known as sequestration, to possible military intervention in Syria over its alleged use of chemical weapons against civilians. During the interview, Turner complained that "the president has left sequestration in place." Turner later commented that Obama "has allowed sequestration to be impacting our men and women who are every day getting up for our national security."
But Turner, along with more than 200 other Republicans, voted for the 2011 Budget Control Act, which House Republican leadership hailed as a victory. Congress passed the law to incentivize further deficit reduction measures, and when Republicans refused to compromise in considering additional tax revenue and more targeted spending cuts to offset sequestration, the cuts were triggered.
Contrary to Congressman Turner's repeated assertions that the president decided to let the cuts remain, it is Republicans' refusal to pursue alternatives to the cuts that keep them in place.
Fox News touted Indiana's health insurance plan, the Healthy Indiana Plan, as an alternative to the Affordable Care Act, but ignored the significant problems with the plan, including barriers to care for lower-income individuals.
On the August 28 edition of Fox & Friends, co-host Brian Kilmeade hosted Indiana Governor Mike Pence (R) to plug HIP, a program passed by former Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels (R) in 2007. Kilmeade suggested that HIP is "a sign the federal government needs to leave health care up to the states," and concluded: "So much you can learn from Indiana." During the segment, Fox aired a caption declaring HIP a "solution to Obamacare."
The Indiana plan has a number of problems, which were left unmentioned by Kilmeade and Pence.
The program caps the number of people that can enroll. For that reason, according to Gannett's Maureen Groppe (via Nexis), HIP has "gotten four times as many applicants as the approximately 105,000 Hoosiers it has served." In a July article, Groppe noted that while roughly "37,000 Hoosiers are enrolled in the program and another nearly 53,000 are on a waiting list," over "400,000 Hoosiers could get health insurance under Medicaid" if Indiana expands Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.
Furthermore, in an article headlined "Indiana faces crossroads on health care for poor," Groppe explained that HIP relies on "increased cost sharing to keep costs down." That cost sharing, however, "creates a barrier to care" for those with low incomes (via Nexis):
Advocates for the poor say the cost-sharing creates a barrier to care.
Fran Quigley, an Indiana University law professor who has tried to help those who lost HIP coverage get reinstated, said that while a minimum $160 a year contribution sounds reasonable, low-income families have no room for financial error. A family or housing crisis can make them unable to find the money for even essential matters, he said.
"I understand the cost savings and personal investment theories behind the promotion of health savings accounts and premium requirements," Quigley testified at a public hearing on the state's request to continue the program. "But the punitive loss of coverage due to a family financial crisis, and the inevitable spike in taxpayer-shouldered costs for emergency room visits by persons unable to obtain primary care, are exactly the outcomes the (enrollment fee) prohibitions under federal law are trying to prevent."
According to Groppe, HIP also attempts to lower health care costs "by limiting some of the traditional Medicaid benefits and by capping the total value of benefits that recipients can receive each year and during their lifetime." For example, maternity care, as well as dental and vision coverage, are not covered by the program.
Donald Trump baselessly speculated that he was being personally targeted by President Obama through a lawsuit filed by the New York attorney general over allegations that Trump University has engaged in illegal business practices.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman filed a civil lawsuit August 24 "accusing Trump University, Donald J. Trump's for-profit investment school, of engaging in illegal business practices," according to The New York Times. The lawsuit accuses Trump of running the school as an "unlicensed education institution" and making false claims about the classes offered.
Fox & Friends hosted Trump to discuss the suit on August 26 where he baselessly speculated that President Obama was using the lawsuit to politically target him, noting that Schneiderman and Obama met two days before the suit was filed and saying, "Maybe this is a mini IRS." Co-hosts Brian Kilmeade and Steve Doocy agreed with Trump that the president may have been involved, noting, "The president hasn't liked you for a while."
In fact, Schneiderman has been investigating Trump's for-profit university for years. In May 2011, the Times reported that the attorney general had launched an investigation "prompted by about a dozen complaints concerning the Trump school" that he had found to be "credible" and "serious." The inquiry was part of a broader investigation into at least five for-profit educational companies.
The Times also noted that Trump University had faced "a string of consumer complaints, reprimands from state regulators and a lawsuit from dissatisfied former students." The school received a D-minus rating from the Better Business Bureau, and changed its name to Trump Entrepreneur Initiative in 2010 following complaints from New York and Maryland that using "university" in its title violated state education laws.
Fox News' Brian Kilmeade whitewashed the history of the Iraq war, misleadingly implying the diplomatic community supported military intervention, to claim that the Obama administration should respond to the conflict in Syria with similar military force.
Amid reports that the Syrian government launched a possible attack with chemical weapons against civilians, the Obama administration announced it is gathering more information and waiting for the findings of a United Nations investigation into the attack before taking action. But before the facts have become clear, media figures have rushed to push for U.S. military intervention against the Bashar Assad regime. The New York Times reported that while some senior officials "from the Pentagon, the State Department and the intelligence agencies" think intervention is necessary, others "argue that military action now would be reckless and ill timed."
Fox News hosts dismissed these experts' concerns to beat the drums of war, with Fox & Friends guest co-host Tucker Carlson falsely claiming "there's no doubt now [chemical weapons] have been used," and co-host Brian Kilmeade criticizing the Obama administration's response to the Syrian conflict for not resembling the Bush administration's invasion of Iraq. Kilmeade went on to misleadingly suggest the United Nations supported Bush's actions in Iraq, claiming the 2003 invasion gave "the U.N. teeth for the first time in their history":
KILMEADE: It's just unbelievable that they get on President Bush for saying to Saddam Hussein, you have violated 13 separate U.N. Resolutions. We are willing to back that up and give the U.N. teeth for the first time in their history. And he goes and does that. And the message was sent throughout the Middle East, if you cross a line, there will be action. Even Bill Clinton and Bush 41 enforced a no-fly zone for almost a decade because we backed up what we said we would. And now, our words mean absolutely nothing. You can cross us, you can cross that line and we give you a stern tweet as a retort.
In fact, the United Nations Security Council refused to endorse the invasion of Iraq, and then-U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan "warned the US and its allies a week before the invasion in March 2003 that military action would violate the UN charter." The Security Council had previously told the Iraqi government that there would be "consequences" if they did not meet with certain demands, but as The Guardian reported, Annan said "it should have been up to the council to determine what those consequences were."
Annan also made clear in the year following the invasion that according to the U.N., U.S. military intervention in Iraq was "illegal":
Mr. Annan was repeatedly asked whether the war was "illegal." "Yes," he finally said, "I have indicated it is not in conformity with the UN Charter, from our point of view, and from the Charter point of view it was illegal."
The Secretary-General said the war in Iraq and its aftermath had brought home painful lessons about the importance of resolving use-of-force issues jointly through the UN. "I think that in the end everybody is concluding that it is best to work together with allies and through the UN to deal with some of those issues.
"And I hope we do not see another Iraq-type operation for a long time," the Secretary-General told the interviewer, noting that such action needed UN approval and a much broader support of the international community.
The Bush administration's rush to invade Iraq was based on the claim that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and was still pursuing a nuclear weapons program, a claim that has been thoroughly discredited. U.N. weapons experts told CNN in 2004 that they had cautioned the Bush administration prior to the invasion that any evidence of WMDs in Iraq was "shaky," but that the administration "chose to ignore" the lack of solid evidence in favor of war -- a war that lasted nearly a decade and resulted in thousands of American deaths and the deaths of many more Iraqis.
But rather than wait for United Nations inspectors and the U.S. intelligence community to determine whether or not chemical weapons have been used in Syria, and then to assess the best course of action in response, Fox News hosts would rather rush into the conflict and forget the past.
From the August 20 edition of Fox News' The Five:
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Fox News hosts repeatedly attacked a federal court opinion that found that the New York Police Department's (NYPD) version of stop and frisk was unconstitutionally applied by arguing stop and frisk in general is constitutional, a misleading conflation of the NYPD's enforcement tactics and proper stop and frisk procedure.
Fox News criticized Secretary of State John Kerry for inconsistency in his decision to reinstate four State Department officials who were suspended in the wake of the September 2012 attacks on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, but ignored findings from the State Department's Accountability Review Board that supported Kerry's determination that no employees' actions were grounds for termination.
On August 19, The Daily Beast reported that Kerry decided to reinstate the four State Department employees who had been put on administrative leave in the aftermath of the Benghazi attacks. The decision came after a review by Kerry and some of his top aides confirmed the State Department's Accountability Review Board's (ARB) finding that "no employee breached their duty or should be fired." Though the suspended officials would not face formal punishment, the review did not find them "blameless," and in accordance with ARB recommendations, all four will be reassigned.
On the August 20 edition of Fox & Friends, co-host Brian Kilmeade cited the initial ARB report before suggesting that the move to reinstate the suspended employees ignores its results [emphasis added]:
ANNA KOOIMAN [co-host]: Again, mid-level, not the top. We haven't seen any arrests from any of this. And these people, yes, they're back on the job, which is good for them, they feel, I imagine. But they have been publicly humiliated and been targeted and identified as being responsible in some ways over the last eight months. And is this fair to them?
KILMEADE: Well Tom Pickering and Admiral Mullen evidently put together a report the administration accepted and embraced, and they concluded that these mid-level guys didn't tell the people above them. All right. So they were relieved temporarily. Told to hand in their badges. Then they got word yesterday, come to work on Tuesday. So who is right? Was it a bad report, bad conclusions put together by Mullen and Pickering, or are they being ignored now by the the Secretary of State, Kerry, which means that he has a better inquiry, better than the one that was commissioned by the administration?
If Kilmeade had taken the time to review the ARB report, he would have known that it "did not find reasonable cause to determine that any individual U.S. government employee breached his or her duty." In fact, Kerry's review "reaffirmed" the ARB's findings and largely supported the Department's eventual decision to assign some blame but not proceed with formal disciplinary action. From the ARB:
The Board found that certain senior State Department officials within two bureaus demonstrated a lack of proactive leadership and management ability in their responses to security concerns posed by Special Mission Benghazi, given the deteriorating threat environment and the lack of reliable host government protection. However, the Board did not find reasonable cause to determine that any individual U.S. government employee breached his or her duty.
Fox News misleadingly hyped a minor rise in food stamp fraud in an attempt to demonize the program, failing to note it has one of the lowest fraud rates of all federal programs, fraud remains at historically low levels, and the slight increase in fraud reflects an increase in overall enrollment in food supplement initiatives.
On August 15, the Department of Agriculture (USDA) released a new report on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as food stamps, which found that benefit trafficking -- "when SNAP recipients sell their benefits for cash to food retailers, often at a discount" -- had risen slightly from 1.0 percent of total SNAP benefits in 2006-2008 to just 1.3 percent in 2009-2011.
Co-host Brian Kilmeade hyped this minor difference on the August 19 edition of Fox & Friends, focusing on the change in fraud levels while failing to report how little fraud was found in the program:
KILMEADE: 30 percent. That's how many more Americans, according to a new study, are selling food stamps for cash illegally. No, Steve, that's not legal. Nearly 48 million people receive food stamps. The program costs $80 billion a year.
In fact, according to the USDA, SNAP benefit trafficking has "remained relatively steady at approximately one cent on the dollar," and the program "continues to have one of the lowest fraud rates for Federal programs." Furthermore, rates of trafficking have declined since the 90s and the current rate of trafficking remains near historic lows:
According to the USDA, a "substantial portion" of the minor rise in benefit trafficking "is due to the growth in the program," as the total number of SNAP benefits jumped during the recent economic crisis from $36 billion in 2008 to $73 billion in 2011. The USDA also noted that the rise is partly due to the increased number of small and medium-sized businesses which are authorized to accept SNAP benefits, as small retailers accounted for 85 percent of the fraudulent redemptions identified.
The USDA has taken steps to decrease the small amount of SNAP benefit fraud, including permanently disqualifying over 1000 retailers that engaged in trafficking, suspending retailers suspected of serious fraud, more frequently reviewing high-risk retailers, and cracking down on fraud online.
Kilmeade's misleading report is just another example of how Fox News has shamelessly misrepresented the SNAP program and its beneficiaries in an effort to demonize food assistance and malign low-income Americans.
Right-wing media have attempted to manufacture the claim that President Obama is abusing executive power by delaying implementation of the health care law's employer mandate and directing federal prosecutors to avoid maximum drug sentences in some cases, despite the legality of both practices.
Fox previewed the Republican National Committee vote on Chairman Reince Priebus' proposed boycott of 2016 primary debates hosted by CNN and NBC over their planned productions about Hillary Clinton, but ignored the RNC's hypocrisy in not extending the ban to Fox News after reports surfaced that Fox Television Studios may produce the NBC miniseries.
Priebus announced on August 5 that the GOP planned to boycott any primary debates hosted by the news divisions of CNN and NBC if the networks' sister companies, CNN Films and NBC Entertainment, failed to abandon plans to produce and air programs about Hillary Clinton in advance of the 2016 presidential election. Like Media Matters, CNN and NBC on-air personalities expressed concerns about possible conflicts of interests and problems with objectivity regarding the Clinton productions.
During an August 6 interview on Fox's America's Newsroom, Priebus hinted that his true goal was avoiding moderators likely to refuse his candidates special treatment -- as he put it: "moderators who are not serving the best interests of the candidates." And after The New York Times reported on August 9 that Fox's sister company Fox Television Studios may end up producing NBC's planned Clinton miniseries, he admitted that the ban would not extend to Fox News.
But Fox & Friends' August 16 coverage of the RNC vote made no mention of Priebus' hypocrisy or of Fox Television Studio's possible involvement in the Clinton productions. Co-host Brian Kilmeade only said that delegates at the RNC would be "giving serious thought to boycotting the 2016 debates if CNN and NBC go ahead with plans to air special programs about Hillary Clinton" in an upcoming RNC vote. Fox correspondent Molly Line followed up with more detail, but similarly omitted the story's full context [emphasis added]:
LINE: Well, this meeting today really could have a big impact on debates, especially in the near future. The RNC expecting to have this vote today weighing in on whether or not to ban CNN and NBC essentially, for the RNC to refuse to participate in debates with those networks, because they're planning to air documentaries featuring Hillary Clinton. The vote would mean the RNC would not partner with those networks in the presidential primary debates in 2016, and they wouldn't sanction any primary debates that they sponsor. According to the RNC Communications Director Sean Spicer, they don't want a news organization tipping the scales in this election.
Fox News is attempting to manufacture another Obama administration scandal by fearmongering about letters sent to small businesses asking them to explain discrepancies in revenue -- the result of a policy change made under the George W. Bush administration.
The August 15 edition of Fox & Friends reported that the Internal Revenue Service had sent letters to certain small businesses, asking them to explain why their revenue showed a disproportionately high number of credit and debit card transactions. Guest co-host Peter Johnson Jr. called the letters "unsettling" before playing a clip of Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) tying the story to the improper targeting of certain political groups by the IRS. While Johnson admitted that "it happened in the past," the show continued to fearmonger about the letters, asking, "Are there other illegal things that are going on? Chairman Issa and U.S. attorneys are looking at the IRS, and there's some inference and implication that there may be":
But the IRS letters have nothing to do with political ideology. The Washington Post reported that the letters were sent out based on collected information about credit and debit card transactions: