From the February 4 edition of Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto:
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After the White House released a picture of President Obama skeet shooting at Camp David, conservative bloggers were quick to claim that the photo had been altered or created with Adobe Photoshop or a similar graphics editing program. This follows a long, bizarre tradition of conservative media labeling a wide range of pictures and documents related to the president as fraudulent.
In the past few years, conservatives have accused President Obama and his staff of Photoshopping the short and long-form versions of the president's birth certificate, two separate photos of the president with his family, two Situation Room photos from the day of the bin Laden raid, a photo of Obama throwing a football, and now a photo of the president shooting skeet.
During an interview last month with The New Republic, President Obama was asked if he has ever fired a gun. After the president told the magazine that he goes skeet shooting with guests at Camp David, conservatives -- as well as reporters from more mainstream outlets -- sought proof. In order to quiet the skeptics, on Saturday the White House released a photo of the president shooting clay targets at Camp David in 2012:
Linking to the picture on Twitter, White House senior adviser David Plouffe joked, "let the photoshop conspiracies begin!" While Plouffe was mocking the penchant of some conservatives to turn everything related to President Obama into a conspiracy, some conservative outlets quickly proved his point by doing just that (New York Magazine has produced a comprehensive roundup of the skeet shooting conspiracies).
In an article posted Sunday at conservative website American Thinker -- an outlet frequently touted and cited by Rush Limbaugh -- titled "Seven Reasons Why it's a Photoshop," blogger Michael Harlin concluded, "if he's shooting skeet, then I'm Daffy Duck." (While the headline calls it a Photoshop, Harlin seems to waver on whether the picture was manipulated or merely "staged like everything else in President Obama's life.")
To give you some idea of the level of analysis in the piece, among Harlin's evidence that something is off about the Obama picture is his observation that unlike Obama, "most shooters wear baseball style caps" to help "block unwanted sun in your eyes."
Obama is wearing sunglasses (or tinted protective eyewear) in the photo.
It's easy to point and laugh at analyses like these, but conservatives' obsession with these Photoshop conspiracies shows the type of paranoid nonsense that has passed for journalism at many prominent conservative outlets during the Obama era.
In this report we examine right-wing claims that the president's allies have altered:
From the February 1 edition of Fox News' Hannity:
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As congressional leaders debate a framework for comprehensive immigration reform that will likely grant undocumented immigrants legal status, conservative media are engaged in promoting myths and falsehoods about what reform means for the country.
Following news that the economy had contracted slightly at the end of 2012, Fox News figures claimed both that government spending had not decreased, and that it had decreased because of President Obama's desire to cut military spending. Both are false -- the contraction in GDP came from a dramatic decrease in government spending, largely due to normal cycles in defense spending and the end of two wars.
Fox's The Five covered a report by the Bureau of Economic Analysis which found that the economy contracted by 0.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012. Co-hosts Dana Perino and Eric Bolling attempted to blame Obama for the decline in defense spending that contributed to the decrease in GDP, claiming that "the defense cut was actually the White House's idea in the first place" and was "part of sequestration, which started in the White House." Co-host Andrea Tantaros later claimed "Spending actually didn't go down in the fourth quarter. It actually increased in the fourth quarter":
But all three are wrong. Despite Tantaros' claim that government spending increased in the fourth quarter of 2012, the BEA report clearly indicates that it decreased dramatically, a factor that strongly contributed to the contraction in the economy:
From the January 29 edition of Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto:
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Fox News' Eric Bolling selectively cropped footage of Sen. Dianne Feinstein discussing her proposed ban on assault weapons in an attempt to claim she flip-flopped on gun control.
On The Five, the co-hosts took up the topic of Feinstein's new proposed legislation to ban semi-automatic assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition clips. Bolling aired a one sentence from Feinstein's press conference introducing the assault weapons ban, in which she said, "Our weak gun laws allow these mass killings to be carried out again and again and again in our country." Bolling then claimed, "But the senator wasn't always so anti-gun." The next video showed Feinstein in 1995 testifying before the Senate, in which she explained she once carried a concealed weapon for self-defense after being targeted by terrorists.
Bolling declared that this was "a perfect example of political hypocrisy."
A look at Feinstein's full press conference disproves Bolling's claim. In the portion of her remarks Bolling chose not to air, Feinstein emphasized (at about 5:25 in the video): "[In the bill] we have tried to recognize legal hunting rights. We have tried to recognize legal defense rights. We have tried to recognize the right of a citizen to legally possess a weapon. No weapon is taken from anyone. The purpose is to dry up the supply of these weapons over time.
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.
As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton prepares to testify before Congress about the September 11 attack on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, Media Matters reviews the falsehoods conservative media have pushed regarding Clinton and her response to the attack.
Media coverage of the debt ceiling frequently claims that raising the limit without simultaneous spending cuts would give President Obama a "blank check," repeating a pattern of promoting this false narrative -- or failing to correct it -- that occurred during the unprecedented brinkmanship of 2011. The phrase implies that the debt ceiling governs additional spending desired by the White House, when in fact it is a restriction on the executive branch's ability to borrow money to pay for spending measures already enacted by Congress.
Fox News hosts echoed Rush Limbaugh's accusation that President Obama will use children as "human shields" at a White House event on stronger gun laws. However, President Bush also had children in attendance during bill signings and announcements.
Limbaugh and Fox News attacked Obama over the announcement that the president will propose measures to reduce gun violence on Wednesday at the White House. The administration invited children to the event who had written Obama about their safety concerns following the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
On the Tuesday edition of The Five, the co-hosts aired Limbaugh's "human shields" accusation, then voiced their own disgust. Co-host Kimberly Guilfoyle said the children were being used as "political pawns," while Eric Bolling said the event was in "bad taste" and "offensive."
But as co-hosts Dana Perino and Bob Beckel noted, this is not in any way an unprecedented event. In fact, Perino's former boss, President George W. Bush, had children attend the signing of the No Child Left Behind law in 2002:
In addition, Bush invited the families of so-called "snowflake" babies to the White House when he vetoed federal funding of embryonic stem cell research.
Conservative media launched vicious attacks against former Secretary of State Colin Powell in an effort to discredit his remarks and Republican credentials after Powell criticized Republicans for having a "dark vein of intolerance in some parts of the party."
Fox News co-host Eric Bolling botched basic facts about the debate over a potential government default by claiming that increasing the debt ceiling would give President Obama the power to spend on whatever he chooses. In fact, raising the debt ceiling simply allows the government to pay for spending that Congress has already approved.
During a Fox & Friends segment on the debt ceiling, Bolling claimed Obama "looked in the camera and said, 'give me the checkbook.' " Bolling later suggested Congress would lose the power of the purse if it raised the debt ceiling:
But during his news conference on Monday, the president clearly stated that Congress has the spending power, and he is only asking for a debt ceiling increase to have the power to spend money that Congress already authorized:
This is a matter of Congress authorizes spending. They order me to spend. They tell me, you need to fund our Defense Department at such and such a level; you need to send out Social Security checks; you need to make sure that you are paying to care for our veterans. They lay all this out for me because they have the spending power. And so I am required by law to go ahead and pay these bills.
Separately, they also have to authorize the raising of the debt ceiling in order to make sure that those bills are paid. And so, what Congress can't do is tell me to spend X, and then say, but we're not going to give you the authority to go ahead and pay the bills.
And I just want to repeat -- because I think sometimes the American people, understandably, aren't following all the debates here in Washington -- raising the debt ceiling does not authorize us to spend more. All it does is say that America will pay its bills. And we are not a dead-beat nation. And the consequences of us not paying our bills, as I outlined in my opening statement, would be disastrous.
Experts have made the same point. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke stated during a forum on Monday that increasing the debt ceiling does not create new deficits, it doesn't create new spending. A May 2011 document from the Treasury Department titled "Debt Limit: Myth v. Fact" explained what the debt limit does:
The debt limit is the total amount of money that the United States government is authorized to borrow to meet its existing legal obligations, including Social Security and Medicare benefits, military salaries, interest on the national debt, tax refunds, and other payments. The debt limit does not authorize new spending commitments. It simply allows the government to finance existing legal obligations that Congresses and presidents of both parties have made in the past.
Furthermore, a July 2011 PolitiFact article asked several budget experts to evaluate Republican Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor's claim that increasing the debt ceiling would "give the president a blank check" and determined that the claim was false:
From the January 14 edition of Fox News' The Five:
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Fox News is emphasizing the decline in violent crime and murder rates since the 1990s to oppose calls for laws to prevent gun violence. But recent reporting indicates that the number of gunshot wounds has actually increased in recent years and that the lower homicide rate is partly due to improved care for gunshot victims.