As the nation's student loan debt burden continues to grow and voters look to 2016 presidential candidates for solutions, right-wing media continue to perpetuate debunked myths about college costs, financial aid, and student loans. Here are the facts that conservative media outlets ignore.
From the October 2 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
From the September 29 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
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Fox's Dana Perino promoted the false claim that Hillary Clinton personally signed off on her aide Huma Abedin's job change. On September 24 The New York Times reported that Hillary Clinton had "personally signed off on" her aide, Huma Abedein, being authorized "to begin working for a private consulting firm while remaining at the State Department." The Times later updated their story noting that documents actually show it was Clinton's then chief of staff, Cheryl Mills, -- not the former secretary of state herself -- who authorized Abedin's job change. Nonetheless, Fox News host Dana Pernio hyped the story without noting the Times' correction on the September 29 edition of Fox & Friends:
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Fox News personalities defended comments by Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson that he "absolutely would not agree with" an American Muslim being elected president based on the conflated reasoning that a Muslim president is synonymous with violent Islamists and the Koran-based, fundamentalist system of "Sharia law."
From the September 21 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
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From the September 18 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
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Fox & Friends' coverage of the refugee crisis focused on whether the migrants might be terrorists because they're predominantly Muslim and may have chanted "Allahu Akbar."
Thousands of men, women, and children are increasingly fleeing Iraq to escape violence from the Islamic State, joining more than four million migrants who have left Syria since the start of its civil war. The ensuing global humanitarian crisis is now being called the worst migration crisis since World War II, according to the United Nations. Yet on Fox News, the refugee crisis has been used to push fears about the religion of the refugees.
Fox & Friends hyped a "disturbing" video on September 9 purporting to show refugees chanting "Allahu Akbar" as evidence that most of the refugees are Muslim. Despite adding the caveat that "we're not saying that any of [the refugees] are terrorists," Fox hosts suggested "Allahu Akbar" chants show why "some are worried" the refugees are "potential terrorists," while an on-screen graphic blared, "Terrorists Inbound? Taking Refugees Could Open Door To Jihadists."
KRISTIN FISHER: At the same time that the White House is reconsidering what to do about this refugee crisis, a new video surfaces online showing why some are worried Europe is opening its doors to potential terrorists.
Those are reportedly Muslim refugees on a train in Europe chanting "Allahu Akbar" or "God is great." Now, to be clear, we're not saying that any of those people are terrorists or in any way affiliated with a terror group, but it does highlight just how many of these refugees, who are fleeing violence in Iraq and Syria, are Muslim. And when they're flooding into Europe at a rate of thousands a day, it's impossible to check all of them as they cross the border. The White House has been taking some heat from its European allies for not doing more to help, but yesterday a spokesman said the administration is "actively considering other options."
It appears the video originated on the fringe website InfoWars.com, which links to a YouTube post calling the men in the video "ISIS recruits," not refugees as Fox & Friends claimed.
From the September 9 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
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Fox News broadcast misleading reports about a Washington, D.C. initiative to transition homeless families from emergency shelters to year-round housing, hyping the supposed cost to "taxpayers" and mocking the city for "indefinitely" housing homeless families in "hotels."
Fox News cited anonymous sources to scandalize the State Department's decision to recategorize some of Hillary Clinton's emails, using technical language to avoid admitting that the emails were simply designated as privileged communications -- a common type of redaction to protect agency deliberations. Instead, Fox hyped the change as evidence of a concerted cover-up to "hide classified info."
Rush Limbaugh joined Fox News hosts in declaring that the Black Lives Matter movement, which aims to shine a spotlight on racial disparities in the U.S. criminal justice system, should be designated a "hate group."
From the September 2 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
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"There's nothing linking Black Lives Matter to a Texas cop's death" over the weekend, Vox explained, yet that didn't stop Fox News from using the tragic murder to repeatedly smear the racial justice movement.
On August 29, Texas deputy sheriff Darren H. Goforth was shot at point-blank range at a gas station outside Houston. The investigation into possible motives is still ongoing, but the alleged shooter had a criminal record as well as a history of mental health problems. In a press conference following Deputy Goforth's death, the Harris county sheriff blamed anti-police rhetoric for a possible factor in the murder, saying "We've heard black lives matter, all lives matter. Well, cops' lives matter, too. So, how about we drop the qualifier and just say lives matter?"
Fox News pounced on the tragedy to link Black Lives Matter to the deputy's death and smear the movement, repeatedly citing the crime to brand Black Lives Matter a "hate group." The network painted the movement as "the real culprit" despite there being "absolutely no established connection between the Black Lives Matter movement and the Harris County deputy's death," as Vox pointed out on September 1:
Despite any solid leads and facts about the motives in the shooting of 10-year deputy veteran Darren Goforth, some conservative media outlets and local law enforcement officials have already settled on the real culprit: Black Lives Matter.
Goforth's death is an enormous tragedy that merits the attention it's getting. But the rush to link his death to a movement focused on creating a more equal criminal justice system exposes some of the misconceptions and misleading criticisms surrounding the movement.
The goals and message of Black Lives Matter have nothing to do with harming police officers in any way. The movement is explicitly concerned with reducing the racial disparities found in the criminal justice system. None of its leaders have advocated for killing cops.
Currently, there is also absolutely no established connection between the Black Lives Matter movement and the Harris County deputy's death. But that didn't stop local officials from drawing a link.
If there's no information about the motive, how can officials make any connection between the shooting and any movement, whether it's Black Lives Matter or something else? It's just blind speculation at this point.
But Fox News went with the narrative.
By the sheriff's own admission, there's nothing establishing a motive or linking Black Lives Matter to the shooting. But by making the connection in his remarks, he planted the seeds that critics of Black Lives Matter and outlets like Fox News needed to cultivate and grow their big plant of bullshit.
It's not just Fox News -- other reports painted narratives that put Black Lives Matter and police as inherently in conflict. A CNN report, for instance, described Black Lives Matter's advocacy as "anti-police rhetoric." What does it say about American society that advocating for black lives and ending racial disparities in the criminal justice system would qualify not as pro-equality but as anti-police?
Fox News highlighted a blog post by a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) freshman to attack an English course on the "literature of 9/11" for being one sided in favor of so-called "terrorists," despite evidence that the course includes diverse perspectives on the attacks and the War on Terror that followed.
On the August 31 editions of Fox & Friends and Outnumbered, Fox hosts criticized a course offering at the University of North Carolina, entitled "The Literature of 9/11." The segments drew from an August 28 post at the conservative blog The College Fix, written by a UNC freshman, that was also featured on FoxNews.com. Fox & Friends co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck claimed that the course did not represent the views of victims of the 9/11 attacks or their families, then briefly interviewed a man who lost his cousin in the attacks:
ELIZABETH HASSELBECK: Students at one of the top universities in the country will learn about the September 11th attacks through the eyes of the terrorists, instead of the victims. A UNC-Chapel Hill's freshman seminar class, "Literature of 9/11," sympathizes with the terrorists who sparked the national tragedy, presenting America as imperialistic. Some of the required reading includes poetry by Guantanamo Bay detainees, but nothing at all from the perspective of September 11th victims or their families.
Outnumbered co-host Lisa "Kennedy" Montgomery introduced a segment on the class by citing The College Fix's claims that "None of the readings assigned in the freshman seminar present the Sept. 11 attacks from the perspective of those who died or from American families who lost loved ones." The co-hosts then focused their discussion on the supposed "one-sided" perspective of the course, and questioned whether the class should be cancelled. Kennedy went on to read her own comic take on what a poem written by a Guantanamo detainee might sound like, and stated that "most of this writing would make great lining for the bottom of my parrot's cage":
KENNEDY: I want to point out a little bit of the syllabus. The Reluctant Fundamentalist is a little bit of literature told from the perspective of a Pakistani-American who finds America to be greedy and imperialist.
SANDRA SMITH: It appears from the course's online description, of which you read some of it, it says "We will explore a diverse array of themes related to the 9/11 attacks and the War on Terror." A diverse array of themes. But, you-- going back, none of the readings assigned in the freshman seminar present the perspective of those who died, or the families who lost loved ones. How is that a diverse array of theme? There's no diversity in this course.
KENNEDY: It's not diverse at all. And I think we should offer a thousand dollars to the first student who takes this class from Professor Neel Ahuja and actually disagrees with him, and we'll see what kind of a grade they get. Because I guarantee you--
HEATHER MACDONALD: Right, because he will shut down debate, that professor. Yeah.
KENNEDY: I guarantee the first person who presents a logical argument for why much of this writing would make great lining for the bottom of my parrot's cage -- I don't have a parrot, but if I did I would probably line the bottom with a lot of this literature -- and, you know, present a more well-rounded opinion of what actually happened.
The course, titled "ENGL 072: Literature of 9/11," is one of 82 freshman year seminar courses across all departments offered at UNC for the Fall 2015 semester, as of August 31. Professor Neel Ahuja, an Associate Professor of English, Comparative Literature, and Geography, has taught the course since 2010. The original College Fix post about the course also cited a UNC student-driven rating page called Blinkness, which posts anonymous comments from supposed former students, to suggest that Ahuja had a personal agenda. Professor Ahuja's rating page received just four relatively positive comments from 2010 through August 29, 2015, but has since been swarmed with dozens of hateful messages demanding that he be fired, deported, or handed over to the terror group ISIS. According to his personal website, Ahuja was raised in Topeka, Kansas.
In addition, the full list of assigned readings for the course does in fact contain diverse literature representing the perspectives of Arab-Americans, residents of New York City, members of the U.S. military and their families, survivors of the attacks, non-partisan terrorism researchers, artists, historians, musicians, and the international Muslim community, as well as several texts aimed to honor or memorialize victims of the attacks. Here are just a few examples the Fox hosts failed to mention:
The course does include a collection of poems written by detainees at Guantanamo Bay, but all of the selections were cleared for release by the United States military during the Bush administration. One of the poets was detained at 14 and held for seven years without charge before his release. Another poet, the only journalist ever held in Guantanamo, was also released without charge after seven years in captivity.