Fox News host Martha MacCallum and contributor Byron York suggested that the President Obama may have scheduled his current trips to Europe and Africa to help his poll numbers even though both trips were scheduled as early as November 2012.
Obama is currently in Northern Ireland attending a G8 summit before embarking on a tour of Africa -- an effort to strengthen economic ties to the continent. On the June 18 edition of America's Newsroom, MacCallum and York were discussing the president's current job approval rating when MacCallum wondered aloud whether Obama was trying to "get overseas and do some traveling and draw the attention somewhere else" in an attempt to "turn the tide." York responded, "Well, he's trying that."
Both the G8 summit and the Africa trip were being planned as early as November 2012, according to the BBC and Politico respectively. At that time, President Obama had just won re-election and had a job approval rating of over fifty percent.
Fox News contributor Byron York suggested that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta's congressional testimony on Benghazi indicated that President Obama failed to order the military to protect Americans under attack. However, Panetta testified that Obama explicitly directed him to take military action to protect American lives.
On Fox's America's Newsroom on Friday, guest host Rick Folbaum aired clips of Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) questioning Panetta during Thursday's hearing about the attack on a U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya. York described Panetta's testimony as confirming that "[a]fter having a prescheduled meeting in the afternoon on that day, Secretary Panetta spoke to [President Obama] no more." York then said, "I think what became clear with Lindsey Graham's questioning about possible military activity is that nobody in the Pentagon would have ordered military action without a specific order from the president. And the president wasn't around."
But Panetta's very testimony refutes York's accusation: Panetta made it clear that Obama ordered Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey and himself to take all necessary action to protect Americans under attack.
The right-wing media are claiming that the "liberal agenda" President Obama outlined in his second inaugural address is out of the mainstream, even though polling has shown that the majority of Americans agree with Obama's stances on marriage equality, sustainable energy, and other issues.
Fox News is continuing its hunt for "pork" in a Hurricane Sandy relief bill blocked by House Speaker John Boehner, claiming that the bill included $600 million for the Environmental Protection Agency to address climate change. But the funds in question actually focused on ensuring affected states' access to clean water, a crucial issue in the wake of the storm - and emblematic of future consequences of climate change.
Rep. Boehner recently canceled a vote on a Sandy relief bill, prompting heavy criticism from some members of his own party. He later reversed course and called for a vote on $9 billion for the National Flood Insurance Program, with another $51 billion in relief spending to be voted on later.
Continuing Fox News' attempts to find "pork" in the bill, Fox News anchor Bill Hemmer proclaimed lawmakers "were just chucking everything" including "$600 million for climate change for the EPA" into the bill, and "that's where the resistance" from Rep. Boehner came:
But the previous day, Rep. Carolyn Maloney had explained to Fox Business that the "money is for wastewater treatment," which she pointed out is "very much needed" in many areas hit by Sandy. Indeed, The New York Times reported that sewage from storm-battered treatment plants had flowed into New York and New Jersey waterways after the storm, "a sign of an environmental and public health disaster that officials say will be one of the most enduring and expensive effects of Hurricane Sandy."
Niall Ferguson's Newsweek cover story on President Obama exemplifies a deficiency in today's media. As criticism of Ferguson's shoddy work mounted -- both from outside and inside of Newsweek/The Daily Beast -- Newsweek explained to Politico's Dylan Byers that Newsweek "rel[ies] on our writers to submit factually accurate material." Indeed, Byers also noted that Newsweek does not even have a fact-checking department.
This admission is disturbing on face. Newsweek wants to sell you stories and news about the world but can't even be bothered to check the claims it publishes. Even worse, they didn't seem all that uncomfortable with the admission. Newsweek's defense is that others are this lackadaisical at journalism, which is to say Newsweek has no defense. In a media environment without fact-checkers, it's no wonder we have fabulists and problems with facts and the media. But there's a more pernicious ramification of Newsweek's abdication of journalistic practices: This is what the predatory conservative echo-chamber and Fox News count on.
Fox and the right-wing echo chamber exploit these vulnerabilities in the media. When the media process seems shoddy (regardless of whether it actually is) and the result produces news that is inconsistent with conservative ideology, right-wing media pounce and attack the outlet as part of some left-wing media cabal. We've seen Fox do this from Dan Rather to Politico to ABC News to MSNBC and more. On the other hand, when they find the argument useful, the right-wing echo chamber can herald the piece and ignore inaccuracies within.
It's no surprise that while discussing Ferguson's article across multiple programs, Fox never discussed the myriad factual problems in Ferguson's piece that one could find with a rudimentary Google search. This is even as Ferguson's self-professed friend who writes for the same outlet called the piece "absurd propaganda."
Byron York, the chief political correspondent for The Washington Examiner, is amplifying Mitt Romney's discredited allegation that President Obama knowingly slowed down the economic recovery because he favored health care reform.
This Romney falsehood is based on a distortion of comments reported in the book The Escape Artists: How Obama's Team Fumbled the Recovery, by The New Republic's Noam Scheiber. The actual comments make clear that the White House has always rejected the dubious claim that it could not focus on economic recovery and health care reform at the same time.
Under the headline "Romney: Obama slowed recovery to push Obamacare," York declared:
In an appearance in Texas Wednesday, Mitt Romney charged that President Obama "knowingly slowed down the recovery in this country...in order to put in place Obamacare." The president's action, Romney said, "deserves a lot of explaining."
Romney's claim that Obama "knowingly slowed down the recovery" is based on a misreading of The Escape Artists. As documented by Talking Points Memo, Romney claimed:
A book that was written in a way that's apparently pro-President Obama, was written by a guy named Noam Scheiber and in this book he says that there was a discussion about the fact that Obamacare would slow down the economic recovery in this country and they knew that before they passed it. But they concluded that we would all forget how long the recovery took once it had happened, so they decided to go ahead. The idea that they knowingly slowed down our recovery in order to put in place Obamacare, which they wanted and they considered historic but the American people did not want or consider historic, is something which I think deserves a lot of explaining, because I think the President's responsibility is to put people back to work. To get people out of poverty and to help people have good jobs and have prospects for a brighter tomorrow.
Romney's claim, that Scheiber's book proves that the Obama administration knowingly slowed the economic recovery, is false.
As New York magazine writer Jonathan Chait detailed when Romney first started leveling the accusation, the comments in the book are attributed to former White House economic adviser Larry Summers, who made it perfectly clear that he did not think that passing the Affordable Care Act would slow the economic recovery:
The passage cited by Romney as evidence that Obama willingly chose to "make life harder for the American people" is an interview with Larry Summers:
"I always admired the president's courage for recognizing that 50 years from now, people would remember that all Americans had health care," Larry Summers later said in an interview. "And even if pursuing health care affected the pace of the recovery, which was unlikely in my view, people wouldn't remember how fast the recovery from this recession was."
As you might notice from the phrase "even if," Summers denied that health-care reform affected the pace of the recession. That is, he was claiming the opposite of the position imputed to him by Romney.
Chait went on to note additional comments from Summers that made it clear that the administration did not choose health care reform over economic growth.
The Obama campaign recently released a new ad highlighting the way venture capital firm Bain Capital, under Mitt Romney's leadership, handled the takeover of a steel mill that later went bankrupt. Bain Capital walked away with millions in profit and consulting fees while hundreds of GST Steel workers lost their jobs and many more lost a percentage of their pensions. The U.S. government ultimately had to intervene to cover the mill's pension payments.
Fox News is defending Romney by pointing to the Obama administration's handling of the auto industry's rescue and the dealerships that were closed under the managed bankruptcies of General Motors and Chrysler -- which resulted in significant job losses.
Fox & Friends' Brian Kilmeade highlighted the losses when he claimed that "there's no way the president should have been cutting dealerships and making these demands. He knew nothing about the car business -- that was way over the line." Kilmeade added: "He's talking about costing jobs, he went in and fired a bunch of people."
Fox News contributor Byron York similarly argued that Romney and his supporters should bring up the dealerships closed during the auto rescue and the "tens of thousands" of jobs lost as a result. Senior Fox political analyst Brit Hume advised Romney to "talk about the dealerships, the auto dealerships that were closed down when the government took control of a couple of the auto companies," adding, "an awful lot of people lost their jobs."
But to compare Bain's treatment of GST Steel to the Obama administration's handling of the auto crisis is not only "fairly silly," it ignores important facts.
Fox News is pushing fatally flawed analogies to defend Mitt Romney from criticism over his jobs record at Bain Capital, pointing to the Obama administration's green energy loans and the successful rescue of the U.S. auto industry. These comparisons crumble under scrutiny, as leveraged buyouts are different from providing bankruptcy financing or loans.
The publication last week of an excerpt from a forthcoming Barack Obama biography sparked an especially frenzied response from conservative bloggers who view the president's distant personal past with an unhealthy fascination.
The book's new revelation about the identity of a girlfriend Obama had soon after he graduated college nearly 30 years ago, along with the other biographical nuggets, were deemed to be crucial pieces of information that had gone missing during the 2008 campaign season. Washington Examiner columnist Byron York bemoaned the fact that the Vanity Fair excerpt revealed "a portrait of Obama that might have enriched the voters' understanding of him in the 2008 campaign."
Indeed, for conservatives, previously unearthed details about Obama post-college girlfriend represented the latest piece of evidence that reporters hadn't done enough digging during the previous campaign. That they never grilled the candidate; that they ignored the Rev. Jeremiah Wright story! (Fact: They covered it. Exhaustively.)
But this time around, it's going to be different. Obama's (supposedly mysterious) life story is going to be fleshed out during the 2012 campaign.
Under the headline, "Re-Vetting Wars: Obama's Girlfriends Speak," American Thinker blogger Thomas Lifson noted "One of the foremost concerns of the Obama re-election effort is the promised re-vetting of Obama, playing off the widespread perception that the media utterly failed to investigate the reality beneath the highly manufactured identity peddled in 2008."
That vow to "vet" the president has become a mantra this year. Addressing CPAC this winter, Andrew Breitbart declared "[T]his election we're going to vet him," and specifically promised to "vet" Obama's "college days." (Days after Breitbart died in March, his site unveiled the "college days" vetting he had promised; it did not go well for Team Breitbart.)
That same month, Sean Hannity announced it was clear that Obama's "friends" in the press made sure "that his past remains un-vetted," while Hannity's angry guest Michelle Malkin reported it was time to "vet the prez."
The vetting obsession however, doesn't spring from a natural affinity for fact checking. Instead, it's used to bolster the broader conservative argument that the real reason Obama won an electoral landslide victory in 2008 was because the press (purposefully) hid the truth about who Obama really is. And, by extension, if Obama wins re-election in November, the only reason will be because for his four years in office, the press (purposefully) hid the truth about who Obama really is.
The conspiracy theory serves as a convenient catchall excuse for why Obama succeeds electorally despite the conservative press' depiction of him as a monster determined to destroy the American economy and ruin our way of life. That's all accurate, the bloggers insists. It's just that the liberal media hasn't properly conveyed all the crucial information to voters.
Media conservatives are pushing the narrative that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's attacks against President Obama over the economy will be effective because Obama favored health care reform rather than focusing on "fixing the economy." However, this narrative falters when confronted with the facts, including that Obama pushed through the first of many economic initiatives a month after he was elected -- more than a year before health care reform became law.
During last night's Fox News debate, moderator Byron York questioned Rep. Michele Bachmann about her 2006 remark that her "husband said you should study for a degree in tax law. You said you hated the idea. And then you explained, 'But the Lord said, 'Be submissive. Wives, you are to be submissive to your husbands.'" York asked Bachmann, "As president, would you be submissive to your husband?" The question received loud boos from the audience, and was the subject of attention in write-ups of the debate.
York defended the question on Fox & Friends this morning, saying: "This is a serious and legitimate question about something she has said and believe me, if she progresses very far in the campaign process, she would have been asked this question. And I personally thought she handled it very well. She handled it much more human -- it was like a very human moment for her."
Appearing on The Mike Gallagher Show, fellow moderator Chris Wallace also defended York's question, saying, that "in these days of women's liberation ... it is worthy of note." Wallace added that "sometimes a difficult or, you know, a somewhat touchy question gets a really good answer and I give him props for that." From the show:
WALLACE: The fact is, she had said this. It seemed, in these days of women's liberation, for her to say 'I didn't want to be a tax lawyer but the Bible says to submit, and so I submitted,' it is -- it is worthy of note. It is something that -- and I think people -- and let's face it, she gave a great answer.
GALLAGHER: Oh, it sure was.
WALLACE: And it gave you a real insight into who she was --
GALLAGHER: I think I'm just really hypersensitive about the way these strong, conservative women just get vilified by everybody.
WALLACE: I think he was trying to elicit information and he did elicit information. And I -- look, we're in a tough spot here. They're running for president, we're not running for anything except trying to do our job. And our job is -- as opposed to most of the time, when we ask questions and it's often, you know, not on camera, and not live. The newsgathering process is happening here like the sausage making for everybody to see. But sometimes a difficult or, you know, a somewhat touchy question gets a really good answer and I give him props for that.
Wallace concluded by joking, "I must also say, that after my own problems with Newt Gingrich, the fact that the crowd was booing Byron was really quite wonderful. I was very happy it wasn't me."
In honor of the one year anniversary of the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Media Matters presents a timeline of one of the most disgraceful and pernicious myths about the law--death panels.
Oh, boy. Here comes another conservative columnist peddling revisionist history about the 1995/96 government shutdown in an attempt to convince Republicans to again shut down the government.
A few weeks ago, I noted that columnist Tony Blankley, who served as press secretary to then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich during the shutdown, was wrong to claim that "the issue of deficit spending and public debt was of much less concern to the public than it is now."
Now here's Byron York:
Even if the 1995 shutdown hurt the GOP -- and there's no doubt the party suffered wounds inflicted not only by Clinton but also by themselves -- today's voters are in a different mood. "We have fiscal crises at the federal, state and local levels, and voters understand that," says Bill Paxon, a former Republican lawmaker and veteran of the shutdown. "Back in '95, we were whistling into the wind -- we were trying to preach fiscal discipline when voters were saying, 'Hey, there's not a problem.'"
And here's reality:
Then, as now, reporting suggested the public cared deeply about fiscal discipline. (And then, as now, there's every reason to think the public cares more about other things, like jobs and Social Security and Medicare.)
More from York:
Republicans like House Speaker John Boehner have learned from their mistakes. "Our goal is to cut spending and reduce the size of government, not to shut it down," Boehner said recently -- a statement he has repeated many times. Contrast that to 1995, when, Paxon recalls, "We said we wanted to shut down the government, that it was a good thing, that it would get people's attention, that it would advance our cause."
Contrary to Paxon's suggestion that in 1995, Republicans were publicly saying they wanted to shut down the government, Republicans at the time tried to blame Bill Clinton for the shutdown. One such Republican was (wait for it …) Bill Paxon:
"Rep. Bill Paxon, R-Amherst, said: 'We are making a down payment on a balanced budget, and it is unfortunate that the president is willing to shut down government to prevent us from balancing the budget.'" [Buffalo News, November 15, 1995]
"Paxon said the vote put retirement funds at risk to 'aid and abet President Clinton's shutdown of the federal government.'" [Bismarck Tribune, November 19, 1995]
In his Washington Examiner column today, Byron York takes a swing at press coverage of the Pentagon's service member survey regarding Don't Ask Don't Tell. York makes much of the fact that among troops with combat experience, larger percentages of service members predict a "negative effect." From York's column:
Press coverage of the new Pentagon Don't Ask Don't Tell report suggests that large majorities of U.S. servicemen and women wouldn't mind the repeal of the military's current policy on gays. Don't believe it. What the report actually shows is that the military is deeply divided over the policy, both between the service branches and especially between those who have served in combat and those who haven't. Did you know that 59 percent of Marines who have served in combat say repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell would have a negative effect? And that 45 percent of Army respondents who have been in combat say the same thing? That is significant, not marginal, opposition.
True, among service members with deployment experience and those in combats arms units, larger percentages of those surveyed predict negative results. However, an overwhelming majority (84 percent) of Marines in combat arms units who have had actual experience working in a unit with a service member believed to be gay said that the unit's "ability to work together" was either "very good," "good," or "neither good nor poor." That number is even higher (89 percent) among Army combat arms units and higher still (92 percent) among the services at large. From page 6 of the report, emphasis added:
Given that we are in a time of war, the combat arms communities across all Services required special focus and analysis. Though the survey results demonstrate a solid majority of the overall U.S. military who predict mixed, positive or no effect in the event of repeal, these percentages are lower, and the percentage of those who predict negative effects are higher, in combat arms units. For example, in response to question 68a, while the percentage of the overall U.S. military that predicts negative or very negative effects on their unit's ability to "work together to get the job done" is 30%, the percentage is 43% for the Marine Corps, 48% within Army combat arms units, and 58% within Marine combat arms units.
However, while a higher percentage of Service members in warfighting units predict negative effects of repeal, the percentage distinctions between warfighting units and the entire military are almost non-existent when asked about the actual experience of serving in a unit with someone believed to be gay. For example, when those in the overall military were asked about the experience of working with someone they believed to be gay or lesbian, 92% stated that their unit's "ability to work together," was "very good, "good" or "neither good nor poor." Meanwhile, in response to the same question, the percentage is 89% for those in Army combat arms units and 84% for those in Marine combat arms units--all very high percentages. Anecdotally, we heard much the same. As one special operations force warfighter told us, "We have a gay guy [in the unit]. He's big, he's mean, and he kills lots of bad guys. No one cared that he was gay."
However much the conservative media would like to preserve the myths about DADT, the fact is that countries that have repealed gay bans follow a familiar pattern. Surveys of troops often suggested widespread resistance to policy change, but repeal did not undermine unit cohesion, effectiveness, or recruitment and retention.
Fox News has forwarded Sheriff Joe Arpaio's claim that he is cooperating with a Department of Justice investigation into charges of racial profiling, and that the investigation is politically motivated. However, Arpaio's own lawyer has reportedly acknowledged that they have not fully cooperated, and the inquiry began during the Bush administration.