Fox News defended Republican presidential hopeful Jeb Bush after he said he would still have authorized the invasion of Iraq "given what we know now," claiming that Bush simply misunderstood the question.
Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush faced criticism from conservatives for comments he made during a May 11 interview with Fox News host Megyn Kelly, where he said that he would have authorized the invasion of Iraq after Kelly asked him if he would have done so "knowing what we know now." Conservative columnist Byron York called Bush's response a "disastrous defense of the Iraq War" and radio host Laura Ingraham commented that "there has to be something wrong" with Bush for his answer.
But Fox News quickly helped Bush whitewash his comments as a misinterpretation. On May 11, soon after the interview aired, Kelly said that Bush was trying to answer a different question.
On the May 12 edition of his radio show, Fox's Sean Hannity gave Bush a platform to "clarify" his comments because "The media seems to be taking it another way and I wanted to see if I could clarify that today." Bush claimed that he "interpreted the question wrong" but argued "I don't know what that decision would have been" on invading Iraq.
Later on The Kelly File, Kelly discussed Bush's comments with Fox senior political analyst Brit Hume. Hume argued that Bush "clearly misunderstood your question, although the question was quite straightforwardly posed." Hume added that Bush's answer was "clearly and unmistakably an answer to a question about what you would have done had you not known what we know now."
Now that Hillary Clinton has announced a run for the presidency, conservative media are responding with predictable ire. While most of their discussion of the former Secretary of State has remained similar over the years, before she announced this run for the presidency conservatives occasionally struck a different tone:
Research by Nicholas Rogers, Lis Power, and Hannah Groch-Begley
After spending over a week denying that Indiana's "religious freedom" law could be used for anti-gay discrimination, Fox News is now contradicting itself by arguing that the law has been "gutted" by new language that prohibits business owners from using it to discriminate.
On March 26, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) signed the state's Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) into law. The measure initially provided a legal defense for those who refused to serve gay customers on religious grounds and sparked a widespread and bipartisan backlash across the country. Criticism of the measure eventually forced Pence and Indiana Republicans to agree to change the law. On April 2, Indiana's RFRA was amended to prohibit its use for individuals and business owners who discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
Fox News did not respond happily to the change.
On the April 3 edition of Fox & Friends, hosts Elisabeth Hasselbeck, Brian Kilmeade, and Tucker Carlson dedicated two segments to criticizing the law's amendment, decrying the lack of "moral courage" on the part of Pence and claiming the bill had been "gutted" by adding anti-discrimination protections for LGBT people. Carlson stated that he couldn't "make any sense of [the amendment] at all, it seems like the law has been completely gutted. It says specifically you can't use this law in court as a defense against denying service on the basis of your religious faith. So like, what's the point of the law in the first place?"
From the April 1 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier:
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Taking their cues from the Drudge Report, right-wing media are echoing a London Telegraph columnist's false claim that scientific agencies intentionally adjusted years of weather station data to show a global warming trend that isn't really there, which the author dubbed the "biggest science scandal ever." But far from being a scandal, historical temperature records are routinely subject to peer-reviewed adjustments to account for changes to measuring instruments, the time of day measurements are taken, and other factors -- and they do not negate a global warming trend.
Conservative media are attempting to discredit the investigation by the Senate Intelligence Committee into the CIA's use of torture on terrorism suspects by comparing it to a controversial Rolling Stone article detailing an alleged rape at the University of Virginia that was criticized for not interviewing students implicated in the assault.
From the December 8 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
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Fox News senior political analyst Brit Hume downplayed the prevalence of campus sexual assaults by misleadingly pointing to a Justice Department study which only surveyed respondents on assaults which occurred per year. Hume's analysis ignored that studies on campus sexual assault consistently find that nearly 20 percent of college-aged women report that they have been assaulted in their lifetime -- a completely different unit of measurement than the Justice Department's study.
During the December 8 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier, Hume highlighted a 2013 study from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) that found that "the annual rate of sexual assaults on women in America declined by 58%," using the report to refute the the often-cited Campus Sexual Assault (CSA) survey used by "activists and President Obama who have been claiming for years that one in every five women will be sexually assaulted while at college," mocking it for including categories such as "forced kissing."
But Hume's comparison is flawed. The DOJ report only cites "the estimated annual rate of female rape or sexual assault victimizations," that occur per year and includes all females age 12 or older. The CSA study specifically surveyed women in college and asked women if they had been assaulted in their lifetime, reporting that "one out of five undergraduate women experience an attempted or completed sexual assault" since entering college.
And studies consistently echoed CSA's findings. A 2010 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that nearly 20 percent of women have been raped in their lifetime:
Nearly 1 in 5 women (18.3%) and 1 in 71 men (1.4%) in the United States have been raped at some time in their lives, including completed forced penetration, attempted forced penetration, or alcohol/drug facilitated completed penetration.
Fox News senior political analyst Brit Hume accused President Obama and civil rights leaders of not speaking out on "black-on-black" violence and crime in Chicago. But Obama has repeatedly spoken out on these issues and acted to address them, as have civil rights groups.
As strict voter ID laws are put into effect ahead of the midterm elections, recent judicial opinions and social science studies continue to poke holes in right-wing media's defense of voter suppression.
From the October 20 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
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Fox News ramped up its attempted character assassination of CDC director Dr. Thomas Frieden with direct calls for his resignation, suggestions that he is uninformed on the spread of infectious disease, and a comparison of the public servant to Saddam Hussein's one-time propaganda minister.
On the October 14 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, contributor Laura Ingraham attacked Dr. Thomas Frieden, the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), for his handling of public relations in the wake of the first confirmed case of Ebola contraction in the United States. Ingraham assailed Director Frieden, claiming that he "is on the verge of becoming the Baghdad Bob of the health care community," and claimed that he seems less like a health care professional and more like a member of "the Obama spin room." Co-host Brian Kilmeade joined the attack, claiming the Frieden talks to the public "like children" before promoting the idea of appointing former Republican Senator Bill Frist to run the United States' Ebola response:
Ingraham's use of "Baghdad Bob" is an allusion to former Ba'ath Party spokesperson and Iraqi Information Minister Muhammad Saeed Al-Sahhaf, who gained international notoriety in 2003 for repeated and obviously false claims that American troops were being rolled back by the defensive forces of Saddam Hussein's regime.
Fox News personalities claimed that President Obama's efforts to roll back the advance of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria was prompted by the brutal murder of American journalist James Foley. In fact, President Obama authorized limited airstrikes several days before Foley's killing, and worked to train Iraqi and Kurdish forces months before the strikes.
From the September 22 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier:
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