The Politico uncritically reported Sen. Mitch McConnell's claim that the combined cost of the omnibus and recovery bills amounts to spending $1 billion an hour. Fox News' Sean Hannity and Brian Kilmeade also repeated McConnell's claim. But as Time's Michael Scherer explained, McConnell's figure is "fuzzy math that does not really mean what it seems to mean" because it is based on dividing the cost of the two bills over 50 days, when, in fact, the money will be spent over the course of many months.
Fox News hosts Sean Hannity and Brian Kilmeade advanced the myth that 60 or more former Guantánamo Bay detainees are known to have, in Hannity's words, "gone back to the battlefield." However, according to the Pentagon, only 18 former Guantánamo detainees have been "confirmed" to have "return[ed] to the fight," while an additional 43 former detainees are "suspected" of having done so. Even the Pentagon's "confirmed" figure has been questioned by analysts.
On Fox & Friends, Brian Kilmeade falsely asserted that President Obama has proposed eliminating the ability of taxpayers to take income tax deductions for their charitable contributions. In fact, Obama has not proposed eliminating the charitable donation income tax deduction for any taxpayers. Rather, a provision in Obama's budget proposal would, beginning in fiscal year 2011, reduce the tax rate at which families earning more than $250,000 per year can take itemized deductions to 28 percent.
In recent days, Fox News hosts and contributors have advanced the false claim -- pushed by Republican lawmakers -- that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid included a provision in the recovery bill directing that $8 billion be spent on a high-speed rail line between Southern California and Las Vegas. In fact, the bill does not direct high-speed rail funds to any specific project, and any funding would be allocated by Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, a former Republican congressman.
While criticizing President Obama for saying that the economy is currently doing poorly, Steve Doocy purported to contrast what Obama has said with FDR's famous statement that "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself." In fact, in the very speech in which Roosevelt made that remark, he said of the economy at the time, "Values have shrunk to fantastic levels; taxes have risen; our ability to pay has fallen; government of all kinds is faced by serious curtailment of income." Roosevelt later added: "Only a foolish optimist can deny the dark realities of the moment."
Fox & Friends' Brian Kilmeade falsely claimed that during a congressional subcommittee hearing, Rep. Gary Ackerman was "going off at" whistleblower Harry Markopolos. In fact, the video of Ackerman Fox & Friends showed contradicted Kilmeade's claim, as acting SEC general counsel Andrew Vollmer was shown on-screen responding to Ackerman's comments.
On Fox & Friends, Brian Kilmeade wondered whether Carol Browner, who President-elect Barack Obama has designated as assistant to the president for energy and climate change, will "have a hard time getting confirmed" because of her supposed "socialist ties." In fact, as FoxNews.com itself has noted, Browner's position "does not require Senate confirmation."
Fox & Friends' Brian Kilmeade falsely suggested that only "people at the U.N." want to close Guantánamo, while co-hosts Steve Doocy and Gretchen Carlson, as well as Glenn Beck, used TV drama 24 as a justification for the use of torture. In fact, Sen. John McCain, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, and five former secretaries of state are among those who have said that Guantánamo should be closed.
Media figures have claimed or suggested that President-elect Barack Obama is only now admitting that he may have to scale back his campaign agenda as a result of the weak economy. In fact, Obama repeatedly said prior to the November 2008 election that some policies he proposed on the campaign trail might need to be delayed because of economic conditions.
Discussing 1980 photos of President-elect Barack Obama published in Time, Sean Hannity asked, "[W]hy didn't we see these pictures beforehand?" and "You think the media maybe thought, well, it might not hurt -- it might not help Barack Obama?" Similarly, Fox News hosts asked, "Was Time magazine sitting on these photos until after the election?" In fact, according to Time, the photographer, Lisa Jack, a fellow student of Obama's at the time and now a psychologist, "put the negatives in a safety-deposit box, so that they could not be used until after the election."
On Fox & Friends, following co-host Steve Doocy's remark that Caroline Kennedy "is a constitutional lawyer," co-host Brian Kilmeade asked: "Is that American Constitution?"
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Fox News' Brian Kilmeade echoed a false assertion made in a December 11 AP article by claiming that President-elect Barack Obama said, "I'm confident nobody on my staff talked on my behalf when it comes to filling my seat." The AP had reported falsely that "President-elect Barack Obama said Thursday he didn't discuss his vacant Senate seat with disgraced Gov. Rod Blagojevich and said he's confident nobody on his staff did either." In fact, during a December 11 press conference, Obama did not claim that nobody on his staff "talked on his behalf" to Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich; rather, he stated, "I'm confident that no representatives of mine would have any part of any deals related to this seat."
Fox & Friends criticized Newsweek for publishing an unaltered cover photo of Gov. Sarah Palin, three months after airing altered photos to smear New York Times journalists for an article about the "ominous trend" in Fox News' ratings.
Fox & Friends' Brian Kilmeade stated that Saturday Night Live executive producer Lorne Michaels has "maxed out on" his contributions to Sen. Barack Obama. But Kilmeade failed to note that, according to FEC filings, Michaels has given at least $5,300 to Sen. John McCain and his Straight Talk America PAC since 2000, including the maximum $2,300 to his presidential campaign.
On Fox & Friends, Brian Kilmeade baselessly claimed that Democrats "air-drop[ped] 60 lawyers and investigators into Alaska" to investigate Gov. Sarah Palin. Kilmeade did not cite a source for the claim, but The Wall Street Journal's John Fund recently claimed that "Democrats have airdropped a mini-army of 30 lawyers, investigators and opposition researchers" into Alaska "to dig into [Palin's] record and background." Kilmeade did not mention that the DNC reportedly called Fund's assertion a "flat-out absolute fabrication" and said that neither the DNC nor the Obama campaign sent anyone to Alaska to do research.