O'Reilly Whitewashes Scandals Swirling Around The Trump Foundation – “I Don’t Understand The Controversy”
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Fox News is hyping an “on message,” less-fringy Donald Trump, claiming that “we haven’t had a pop-off” from the Republican presidential nominee “for a few days now.” But over the past few days,Trump has cited “misleading” statistics to make the point that “everything is bad” in black communities and has gone on a Twitter tirade against MSNBC hosts, while those close to his campaign have continued to push conspiracy theories about Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s health.
Fox News and numerous other conservative media outlets uncritically presented the misleading conclusions of a May 2016 report by the anti-immigrant Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), which claimed that immigrant-headed households consume more welfare than households headed by native-born people. Right-wing media have ignored criticism from experts pointing out the report’s methodological flaws and exaggerations in order to present immigrants as a fiscal burden.
Right-wing outlets including Breitbart, Newsmax, and The Daily Caller hyped the May 9 CIS report claiming that immigrant-headed households receive more welfare than households headed by native-borns. On May 12, Fox correspondent Eric Shawn presented the study’s claims uncritically during the “Truth Serum” segment of Fox’s The O’Reilly Factor. Host Bill O’Reilly introduced the segment by announcing the story was about “tax money going to support illegal aliens”:
Experts have already leveled criticism at the report. Immigration policy analyst Alex Nowrasteh wrote that “The CIS headline result … lacks any kind of reasonable statistical controls” and that “CIS’ buried results undermine their own headline findings.” The American Immigration Council called the report “fundamentally flawed” and criticized its methodology as “creative accounting”:
The biggest shortcoming of both reports is that they count the public benefits utilized by U.S.-born children as costs incurred by the “immigrant-headed households” of which they are a part—at least until those children turn 18, that is, at which point they are counted as “natives.”
The problem with this kind of creative accounting is that all children are “costly” when they are young because they consume educational and health services without contributing any tax revenue. However, that situation reverses when they are working-age adults who, in a sense, “pay back” in taxes what they consumed as children. So it is disingenuous to count them as a “cost of immigration” one minute, and then as native-born taxpayers the next minute.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), CIS has ties to hate groups in the nativist lobby and “has never found any aspect of immigration that it liked, and it has frequently manipulated data to achieve the results it seeks.” CIS has repeatedly been criticized for publishing shoddy research work that includes the “misinterpretation and manipulation of data” and methodologies that are “deeply flawed.”
These criticisms of the new report received no mention on right-wing media reports on the study. Previous equally flawed CIS studies have been similarly promoted by conservative media, indicating a pattern: CIS publishes a study with anti-immigrant conclusions, and right-wing media ignore facts to report it uncritically, despite expert criticisms pointing to methodological flaws, nuances, or controls that undermine the study’s conclusion. This cycle joins other dishonest strategies from the immigrant smearing playbook that have been repeatedly employed by right-wing media.
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Fox News correspondent Eric Shawn debunked his Fox colleagues' earlier criticism that the Clinton Foundation spent just 10 percent of its budget on charitable activities in 2013, calling these claims "incredibly misleading" because the non-profit carries out its humanitarian programs in-house.
On the May 6 edition of The O'Reilly Factor, Shawn addressed accusations of misconduct based on flawed analyses of the Clinton Foundation's expenditures.
When asked by host Bill O'Reilly about the "accusation ... that there only 10 percent of the money raised -- and it's $2 billion -- goes to grants out to poor people or institutions," Shawn responded, "That sounds really bad but it's actually incredibly misleading." Shawn went on to explain that "the way the charity works, they don't give grants to other charities -- they do most of it themselves." According to IRS filings, Shawn said, the Clinton Foundation's charitable spending is around 80 percent, and "the experts for charity say that's very good."
In a response to these accusations, the Clinton Foundation told PunditFact that it and the related Clinton Health Access Initiative combine to spend 88 percent of their expenditures on what the Foundation describes as "life-changing work."
Shawn's fellow Fox contributors and hosts have cited this misleading figure as evidence of malfeasance on the part of the Clinton Foundation. On the May 4 edition of The O'Reilly Factor, Fox contributor Mary Katharine Ham echoed O'Reilly's call for the FBI to investigate the Clinton Foundation's activities, saying that their purportedly low charitable spending rates "raised red flags -- like real red flags -- for the IRS," calling into question the foundation's designation as a charity. On the May 4 edition of Fox's The Five, host Eric Bolling incorrectly said that, "only 10 cents on the dollar went to charitable uses, causes." Co-host Juan Williams responded, "I just find that incredible. That strikes me as, I don't unders[tand] -- how is that legal?"
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Over 200 Water Bodies Have Been Damaged By Fracking Operations
Conservative media are praising Pennsylvania's fracking industry in order to criticize New York's recently announced ban on hydraulic fracturing, without mentioning the health impacts that it has had on Pennsylvania's drinking water and communities.
On December 17, New York became the first state in the country to officially ban the controversial process of hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking." The announcement by Governor Andrew Cuomo's administration came alongside a long-awaited health study on fracking in New York state, which found "significant public health risks" associated with the process. Cuomo officials also stated that allowing fracking would bring "far lower" economic benefits to the state "than originally forecast."
In response, conservative media have been holding up the economy in Pennsylvania -- where fracking has been in practice for decades -- to question the Cuomo administration's decision. Both the Wall Street Journal and the Daily Caller touted statistics from the American Petroleum Institute, which claimed Wednesday that Pennsylvania's fracking industry has generated $2.1 billion in state taxes that have allegedly supported new roads, bridges, and parks. And on the December 17 edition of Fox News' Happening Now, correspondent Eric Shawn reported, "[Fracking] has been allowed in Pennsylvania and helped that state's troubled economy enormously." Co-host Heather Nauert agreed, lamenting, "When you go upstate in New York you see just how badly the jobs are needed up there":
But Pennsylvania may actually be more of a testament to why New York's health concerns surrounding fracking are warranted. Oil and gas operations have damaged Pennsylvania's water supply over 200 times since 2007, according to an investigation by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and a recent report from the Government Accountability Office found that the state's drinking water is at risk from poor wastewater disposal practices. One Pennsylvania town, Dimock, has been dubbed "Ground Zero" in the battle over fracking's safety by NPR. The town has seen particularly high rates of water contamination, with a methane leak causing a resident's backyard water well to explode, tossing aside a concrete slab weighing several thousand pounds in one instance.
A recent study indicated that viewers of Fox News are far more likely than viewers of other TV news to believe that voter fraud is a more significant problem than voter suppression, an unsurprising finding given the network's misleading reports on voter ID laws and in-person voter fraud.
Right-wing media have repeatedly defended the need for strict voter ID laws while denying the reality of voter suppression -- particularly in the run-up to the midterm elections. On the November 2 edition of America's News HQ, National Review Online contributor Hans von Spakovsky argued that it was "not true" that strict voter ID laws can "suppress minority voters," even though there were already concrete examples of people of color, women, and the poor being turned away from the polls this past election because they didn't have the type of identification required to vote. Even though a federal court has called one voter ID law an "unconstitutional poll tax," right-wing media have previously called such restrictive ID requirements "a good thing."
Fox News was back on the supposed harmlessness of strict voter ID again on the November 12 edition of The O'Reilly Factor. Host Bill O'Reilly rejected a federal court's uncontroverted finding that implementation of Texas' new voter ID law "may prevent more than 600,000 registered Texas voters (about 4.5% of all registered voters) from voting in person for lack of compliant identification," as Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg noted in her dissent from the Supreme Court's refusal to block the law. O'Reilly's guest, fellow Fox News host Eric Shawn, concluded that Ginsburg's prediction was "[n]ot true" because a roundup of disenfranchised voters compiled by the Brennan Center for Justice listed only "about 12" instances of voters being turned away in Texas:
Segments like the one on the Factor might explain why viewers of Fox News disproportionately believe that voter fraud is a bigger problem than voter suppression, despite evidence to the contrary. As Talking Points Memo reported, a new study from the Public Religion Research Institute suggests that "people who consider Fox News their most trusted TV news source say that 'people casting votes who are not eligible to vote' is the bigger problem while most people who trust other news stations (CNN, broadcast news, or public television) say that eligible voters who are denied the right to vote is the bigger issue in voting today."
Un estudio reciente indicó que la audiencia de Fox News tiene mayores probabilidades -- en comparación con las audiencias de otros canales de noticias -- de creer que el fraude electoral es un problema más significativo que la supresión del derecho al voto, un resultado poco sorprendente considerando los reportes engañosos de Fox News sobre temas como las leyes de identificación electoral y el fraude electoral en persona.
Los medios conservadores han defendido repetidamente la necesidad de leyes de identificación electoral más estrictas mientras niegan la realidad de la supresión del voto -- particularmente en el margen de las elecciones de medio período. En la edición del 2 de noviembre de 2014 deAmerica's News HQ, Hans von Spakovsky, colaborador del medio digitalNational Review Online,argumentó que "no era cierto" que leyes más estrictas de identificación electoral puedan "suprimir a los votantes que pertenecen a minorías", a pesar de que ha habido ejemplos concretos de personas de color, mujeres, y personas en condiciones de pobreza que han sido alejados de las urnas en las últimas elecciones por no tener el tipo de identificación necesario para votar. No obstante de que una corte federal ha calificado una de las leyes de identificación electoral como "un impuesto electoral inconstitucional," los medios de la derecha conservadora se han referido previamente a estos estrictos requisitos de identificación electoral como "una cosa buena."
Fox News resucitó el tema de cómo las severas leyes de identificación electoral son supuestamente inofensivas en la edición del 12 de noviembre de 2014 de The O'Reilly Factor. El presentador Bill O'Reilly rechazó el hallazgo de una corte federal de que la implementación de las nuevas leyes electorales de Texas "podrían prevenir el voto en persona de más de 600,000 votantes texanos registrados (alrededor del 4.5 por ciento de todos los votantes registrados) por no contar con la identificación requerida," como notó Ruth Bader Ginsburg, magistrada de la Corte Suprema, en su resolución disidente del fallo en el que la Corte Suprema rechazó bloquear la ley. El invitado de O'Reilly, su colega de Fox News, el presentador Eric Shawn, concluyó que la predicción de Ginsburg "no es verdad" porque una investigación del Brennan Center for Justice en que se recopilaron los casos de votantes previamente privados de sus derechos listaba solo "unas 12" personas que no habían logrado votar en Texas:
Segmentos como el anterior en el programa The O'Reilly Factor pueden servir para explicar por qué la audiencia de Fox News cree de manera desproporcionada que el fraude electoral es un problema más grande que la supresión del derecho al voto, a pesar de toda la evidencia que demuestra lo contrario. Como lo reportó Talking Points Memo, un nuevo estudio del Public Religion Research Institute sugiere que "la gente que considera a Fox News su fuente más confiable de noticias dicen que 'la gente que vota sin cumplir los requisitos necesarios son el problema más grande, mientras que la gente que confía en otras fuentes de noticias (CNN, canales de difusión masiva o televisión pública), dicen que el problema más grande al día de hoy es que a votantes que cumplen con los requisitos se les niegue el derecho a votar."
Right-wing media outlets have used misleading voter fraud stories to stoke fears of rampant voter fraud in the months leading up to the 2014 midterm elections. But experts state that voter fraud in the U.S. is virtually non-existent and that voter ID laws would actually disenfranchise voters.
Fox News' coverage of an evidence-free "bombshell" from Benghazi hoaxster Sharyl Attkisson took just hours to morph from a reiteration of her claim that a disgruntled former State Department employee "couldn't help but wonder" if Hillary Clinton's staff had turned over "scrubbed" Benghazi documents to investigators into full-blown allegations that documents had been "destroyed" -- allegations that remain baseless.
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Right-wing media are continuing to misinform about Schuette v. BAMN, the latest Supreme Court rejection of well-established civil rights law.
On April 22, in a splintered decision, the conservative justices of the Supreme Court effectively overturned decades of civil rights precedent and gutted a core component of equal protection law by reinterpreting the political process doctrine of the Fourteenth Amendment. This doctrine, based on Supreme Court cases from the civil rights era, prohibits restructurings of political systems to the specific detriment of a disfavored minority. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit found that the state of Michigan's 2006 ban on affirmative action violated this case law by removing this policy decision from the normal political system and writing it into the state constitution.
Contrary to right-wing media's framing of the case, Schuette was never about the propriety of affirmative action, although Michigan's ban has led to decreased minority enrollment and heightened racial tensions on campus. And as Justice Anthony Kennedy's controlling opinion in Schuette reaffirmed, race-conscious admissions policies in higher education remain constitutional. Still, Roger Clegg at National Review Online nevertheless called the case and its deleterious ramifications for the diversity of all future classrooms and students of color in particular "a big loss for racial preferences in the Supreme Court" and "a resounding win for the good guys."
Fox News' senior judicial analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano took it even further, saying that "the elites who run university systems think they know better than the voters do." When host Eric Shawn asked Napolitano about the precipitous drop in minority enrollment on Michigan campuses since the ban went into effect, Napolitano brushed him off, stating the Schuette decision "lets the voters go either way." He went on to claim that race-conscious admissions were antithetical to "that thing the Civil War was supposed to have resolved":
This past week's edition of Fox News Watch demonstrated just how toxic Fox News' media reporting has become and just how big a mess newly hired media reporter Howard Kurtz is walking into. On July 3, there was a major development in the investigation into the British tabloid phone hacking scandal and the role of Rupert Murdoch, head of News Corp. and 21st Century Fox (Fox News' newly reorganized parent company after a split from News Corp.). A recording of Murdoch was released in which he railed against the police inquiry into phone hacking and corruption at News Corp. tabloids, waved off the practice of bribing public officials for news tips as "part of the culture of Fleet Street," and promised to support journalists convicted as part of the investigation.
It was a major development in one of the biggest media stories of the past few years, and Fox News Watch -- ostensibly a media criticism program -- ignored it, just as it has ignored almost every aspect of the scandal that makes the guy signing the paychecks look bad. The show did, however, find time to cover Fox News Radio host Todd Starnes' brief suspension from Facebook.
On July 3, the UK's Channel 4 News broadcast a "secret recording" of Murdoch (obtained by the investigative news website ExaroNews) purportedly captured at a March 2013 meeting between Murdoch and journalists from The Sun, a News Corp. tabloid, who had been arrested as part of the hacking inquiry. On the tape, Murdoch bashes the investigating authorities as "totally incompetent" and says: "But why are the police behaving in this way? It's the biggest inquiry ever, over next to nothing." He promises "total support" to the journalists "even if you're convicted and get six months or whatever," and even suggests their jobs will be secure: "What happens if some of you are proven guilty? What afterwards? I'm not allowed to promise you -- I will promise you continued health support -- but your jobs. I've got to be careful what comes out -- but, frankly, I won't say it, but just trust me."