Former Obama administration official Cass Sunstein writes that he received death threats and hate mail at his unlisted home address after Fox News launched a smear campaign against him. After Sunstein's nomination and confirmation in 2009, then-Fox host Glenn Beck attacked him and his work for years, invoking mass murderers, totalitarianism and conspiracy theories in conjunction with his name.
Sunstein served as Administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs in the first Obama administration from September 2009 to August 2012.
As Mother Jones notes, Sunstein writes in his upcoming book, Simpler: The Future of Government, that Beck "developed what appeared to be a kind of an obsession with me." Sunstein compares Beck's attacks to the "Two Minutes Hate" from the classic novel 1984, where citizens were forced to watch films depicting enemies of the totalitarian party.
Sunstein also notes that he "began to receive a lot of hate mail, including death threats, at my unlisted home address. One of them stated, 'If I were you I would resign immediately. A well-paid individual, who is armed, knows where you live.'"
Conservative media have denigrated solar energy by denying its sustainability, ignoring its successes, and arguing the U.S. should simply cede the solar market to China. Yet this booming industry has made great strides, and with the right policies can become a major source of our power.
In contrast to official temperature records showing a consistent warming trend, Fox Business reporters have claimed that the "temperature basically hasn't changed much since the ice age" and that it's actually "getting colder." Fox News figures have also denied the scientific consensus that human activity is driving climate change, claiming that carbon dioxide "literally cannot cause global warming" and suggesting that "Mars wobbles" or "wind farms" may be causing it instead. Those are just some of the 10 dumbest things Fox News, Fox Business and their websites said about climate change in 2012:
1. Fox Reporter: "The Temperature Basically Hasn't Changed Much Since The Ice Age." During the Ice Age, much of North America, northern Europe and southern South America were covered with ice sheets. Natural climate cycles led to the end of the Ice Age tens of thousands of years ago. In the last century, temperatures have increased dramatically as a result of our massive emissions of greenhouse gases. Yet Fox Business reporter Tracy Byrnes claimed in March that "the temperature basically hasn't changed much since the Ice Age," before confusing global warming with the depletion of the ozone layer:
2. During Record-Breaking Heat, Fox Anchor Claims "It's Getting Colder." During the third warmest summer on record in the U.S., David Asman, who hosts shows on both Fox News and Fox Business, claimed "it's getting colder":
3. Fox "Expert": Carbon Dioxide "Literally Cannot Cause Global Warming." Joe Bastardi is a meteorologist that is often presented as a climate change expert on Fox News, even though he has no climate science training. Bill O'Reilly has cited Bastardi as the reason that he is "skeptical" about global warming, but scientists have called Bastardi's statements "completely wrong," "simply ignorant," and "utter nonsense." In March, Bastardi attempted to "throw out 150 years of physics" by dismissing the greenhouse effect -- the reason there is life on Earth -- as impossible. Bastardi stated on Fox Business that carbon dioxide (CO2) "literally" -- yes, literally -- "cannot cause global warming" because it doesn't "mix well in the atmosphere." But physicist Richard Muller told Media Matters that CO2 is actually "completely mixed."
4. Fox Reporter: "Mars Wobbles" May Be Causing Climate Change. Elizabeth MacDonald, a Fox Business reporter who often appears on Fox News, incorrectly said in November that "there's no consensus on what's causing climate change, and asked "is it solar flares? Is it the Mars wobbles? Is it the earth's axis tilting in a different way? I mean, that's the issue." After being subject to mockery, she tried to walk back her comments saying she doesn't "think Mars wobbles cause hurricanes," but did not explain her previous comments.
5. Fox Website: "Wind Farms Cause Global Warming." In April, a study found that nighttime temperatures in areas around Texas wind farms were higher than in areas without wind turbines. Fox Nation, a section of FoxNews.com, linked to a story about the study with a headline declaring that wind farms "cause global warming." But the study's authors called this coverage "misleading," explaining that it is "[v]ery likely" that "wind turbines do not create a net warming of the air and instead only re-distribute the air's heat near the surface, which is fundamentally different from the large-scale warming effect caused by increasing atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases."
Mitt Romney's remarks about the 47 percent of Americans who he said are "dependent upon government" echoed right-wing "makers vs. takers" rhetoric -- an argument that has been repeatedly promoted on Fox News.
As world leaders gather for the UN's Rio+20 Earth Summit this week in Brazil, Fox is taking the opportunity to once again deny the threat of climate change. Here's David Asman on Fox Business claiming "it's getting colder":
No. It's not.
Stuart Varney mocked the UK's Prince Charles for issuing a statement on the urgency of addressing climate change, arguing that he has no credibility on climate change because "he's not a scientist." But that's never stopped Fox.
Fox is again attempting to redefine fairness, this time by pushing the GOP-favored flat tax in the midst of debate over the Buffett Rule, which would set a minimum effective tax rate for millionaires. The flat tax is a plan Republicans have been trying to establish as far back as the 1990s.
Following the release of President Obama's tax returns, Fox jumpstarted its push for the flat tax, insisting that it would be a fairer tax system. But this is just the latest attempt by Fox to redefine "fairness" as a tax system that experts contend is designed to favor wealthier taxpayers.
Prior to an interview with Romney campaign adviser Eric Fehrnstrom, "straight news" anchor, Martha MacCallum asked her Twitter followers, "Should Mitt Romney go further with tax reform?" She then added: "Flat tax anyone?"
From the April 16 edition of Fox News' Happening Now:
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From the March 27 edition of the Fox Business Network's Varney & Co.:
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Things are not going so well for the Fox Business Network. The network, which mostly seemed to function during primetime as the Fox News Channel's cover band, announced the cancelation of its entire primetime lineup yesterday: Power and Money with David Asman, Freedom Watch with Andrew Napolitano, and Follow The Money with Eric Bolling. For anyone that has been paying attention to the network's recent struggles, the news is not surprising.
Last October, Reuters reported on a memo sent by Fox Business Network executive vice president Kevin Magee to Fox Business staff imploring everyone at the network to stop trying to emulate Fox News Channel. In the memo, which Magee sent after meeting with Fox News CEO Roger Ailes, Magee told his staff that he had "been asked to remind you all again that they are separate channels and the more we make FBN look like FNC the more of a disservice we do to ourselves."
Indeed, at that point it was difficult to differentiate between FBN and FNC. The channels featured the same rotating cast of contributors and hosts, and FBN, though it did report on business news, seemed far more interested in the Fox News routine of tearing down Obama and Democrats. It was not uncommon to turn on the channel and see David Asman or Eric Bolling covering stories not even tangentially connected to business, like conspiracies about President Obama's birth certificate.
Conservative media have misrepresented the results of Chevy Volt crash tests, claiming the batteries "blow up" and are a "fire trap," and suggesting that fires have occurred spontaneously during use. In fact, fires only occurred after crash tests and regulators concluded an inquiry after finding that Volts are just as safe as conventional cars.
Tonight on Fox Business' Power And Money, David Asman hosted Joe Petrowski, President and CEO of Gulf Oil LP, to claim that because President Obama has decided not to immediately build the Keystone XL (KXL) pipeline and pursue additional domestic oil production, gas prices will increase as early as "the summer." Petrowski specifically asserted that building the pipeline could reduce gas prices in the long term by as much as "20 to 30 cents a gallon."
However, according to researchers at the Cornell University Global Labor Institute, TransCanada, the proposed manufacturers of the pipeline, admitted that "KXL will increase the price of heavy crude oil in the Midwest by almost $2 to $4 billion annually." The Cornell study explains that this will happen as a result of "diverting major volumes of Tar Sands oil now supplying the Midwest refineries, so it can be sold at higher prices to the Gulf Coast and export markets."
Fox expects us to take Petrowski at his word when he claims that building KXL could result in gas prices dropping "20 to 30 cents a gallon"; indeed, Asman responds to his claim by saying that the Gulf executive is "on the retail side of the gas business, so you know" how gas prices come about.
But the Cornell University study estimates nearly the exact opposite of Petrowski's claim, estimating that building the KXL pipeline could increase domestic gas and diesel fuel prices in some states by between "10 to 20 cents more per gallon" and, to rub salt on the wound, possibly "cancel out some or all of the jobs created by KXL" after only one year of increased fuel prices. From the study:
HIGHER FUEL PRICES IN 15 STATES
According to TransCanada, KXL will increase the price of heavy crude oil in the Midwest by almost $2 to $4 billion annually, and escalating for several years. It will do this by diverting major volumes of Tar Sands oil now supplying the Midwest refineries, so it can be sold at higher prices to the Gulf Coast and export markets. As a result, consumers in the Midwest could be paying 10 to 20 cents more per gallon for gasoline and diesel fuel, adding up to $5 billion to the annual US fuel bill. Further, the KXL pipeline will do nothing to insulate the US from oil price volatility.
Even one year of fuel price increases as a result of KXL could cancel out some or all of the jobs created by KXL, based on the (more accurate) $3 to 4 billion budget for KXL (the remaining cost to build within the Us). Higher fuel prices due to KXL would have broad adverse impacts. Gasoline is a significant cost for most Americans, and especially for those with lower incomes and/or residing in rural areas. Moreover, refined oil products (notably gasoline and diesel) are very widely used throughout the economy (especially in agriculture and commercial transportation). So higher fuel prices due to KXL would ripple through the economy and impact a very broad range of people and businesses.
From the January 17 edition of Fox Business' Power and Money:
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From the January 9 edition of Fox Business' Power and Money:
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Fox News has been attacking Senator Barbara Boxer non-stop for saying that a provision delaying an EPA rule will "kill 8,100 more people than otherwise would have been killed from pollution." On Fox Business, radio host Michael Reagan suggested Boxer's comments were over the top before calling Boxer a "job killer in America" and saying "every time she votes, it kills jobs."
No one on Fox found time to note the basis for Boxer's reference to 8,100 lives. Fox's Steve Doocy said, "I don't know where she comes up with that" number and Sean Hannity incorrectly suggested Boxer was referring to Keystone XL on his radio show. A minimal amount of research would reveal that Boxer was referring to an EPA rule that regulates hazardous air pollution, including known carcinogens, from industrial boilers under the Clean Air Act, which the EPA estimates would prevent as many as 8,100 premature deaths a year, among other health benefits.
Conservative media are once again ignoring these benefits of EPA's pollution regulations, and exaggerating the costs to industry for complying with the rule. Fox & Friends' Brian Kilmeade said on that the boiler rule would be "another economy killer" and Michael Reagan said that the rule would "kill 230,000 jobs," apparently referencing an industry-funded study. That study, prepared for the Council of Industrial Boiler Owners (CIBO) in 2010, estimated that the Boiler MACT (Maximum Available Control Technology) rule would put anywhere from 152,553 to 798,250 jobs "at risk." However, the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service concluded that "little credence can be placed" in the study. One of the several problems with the study is that it failed to estimate jobs that would be created by the regulation -- for instance, the boiler rule benefits companies that build boilers. Fox regularly cites industry-funded estimates of the jobs impact of EPA rules, even though retrospective studies find them to be unreliable.
Fox hosts are rallying to Mitt Romney's side following his $10,000 bet to Gov. Rick Perry during a recent GOP primary debate. This is the latest example of Fox hosts defending the wealthy; they previously derided efforts to increase taxes on the rich, while supporting proposals that would increase taxes on the poor.