Keeping the Fox candidate machine moving right on schedule, the network featured Fox News host Mike Huckabee twice today to lob softballs at him about his possible plans to run for president in 2016.
This week, Huckabee spawned a flurry of news reports about his interest in making a bid for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, telling The Washington Post that he is considering a run due to an increase in support "from places where I never got it before."
For years, Fox has helped potential Republican political candidates on their payroll stay in the limelight and reach out to a conservative audience while weighing runs for office. And with a possible Huckabee presidential run in the headlines, Fox News seems eager to help build buzz around its employee.
Interviewing Huckabee on Fox & Friends Saturday, co-host Tucker Carlson said that "the question everyone was asking this week" was whether Huckabee planned to run in 2016. Huckabee answered that he is "open" to the idea of a run, but that he has not yet made up his mind and is instead focused on the 2014 midterm elections and hoping the GOP can take over the Senate.
The segment allowed Huckabee plenty of room to try out lines that would fit comfortably in a stump speech.
Fox News attacked President Obama's decision to sign an executive order that will make it easier for states and communities to prepare for impacts of climate change by denying the existence of global warming.
On November 1, Obama signed an executive order on climate preparedness. The New York Times reported that the order will "make it easier for states and communities to build resilience against storms, droughts and other weather extremes" and establish "a high-level task force of state and local leaders to offer advice to the federal government" on how to help local communities deal with climate change.
Reporting on the executive order during the November 2 edition of Fox & Friends Saturday, co-host Tucker Carlson denied the existence of global warming. He said that "temperatures have not risen in the past several years, they have gone down," and claimed there is "an emerging scientific consensus that we may be in for a period of global cooling caused not by greenhouse gases but by fluctuations in solar energy -- sun spots."
Carlson concluded that those calling for action in response to climate change "what they don't know definitively is the truth. And no one wants to admit -- maybe there's some things they don't fully understand. Why not just admit that?"
Contrary to Carlson's claim that an "emerging scientific consensus" predicts an upcoming period of global cooling, 97 percent of climate scientists and most leading U.S. scientific societies agree that a climate-warming trend has existed over the last century and that the trend is "very likely due to human activities." In September, the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which convenes hundreds of top climate experts from around the world to assess the scientific understanding of climate change, released a report concluding that "warming of the climate system is unequivocal" and will continue under all greenhouse gas emissions scenarios.
While climate scientists overwhelmingly believe the Earth is warming, Fox News has relentlessly championed climate change denial. This coverage has a real impact on the network's conservative viewers - while two-thirds of Americans believe in global warming, only 25 percent of Tea Party Republicans agree.
From the October 12 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends Saturday:
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From the October 7 edition of NBC's Tonight Show with Jay Leno:
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Fox & Friends Saturday criticized President Obama for offering to personally pay for a "museum of Muslim culture" during the government shutdown, a claim that originated from a satire website.
On October 5, the co-hosts of Fox & Friends Saturday discussed the closure of the World War II Memorial, which resulted from the Republican-led shutdown. During the discussion, co-host Anna Kooiman claimed that while the memorial is closed, "President Obama has offered to pay out of his own pocket for the museum of Muslim culture."
KOOIMAN: The Republican National Committee is offering to pay for it to keep it open so that the veterans from Honor Flight are going to be able to go and see this because who did it honor? It honored them. It really doesn't seem fair, especially -- and we're going to talk a little bit later in the show too about some things that are continuing to be funded. And President Obama has offered to pay out of his own pocket for the museum of Muslim culture out of his own pocket, yet it's the Republican National Committee who's paying for this.
Unfortunately for Kooiman, the claim that Obama offered to pay out of pocket for a "museum of Muslim culture" originated from the satirical website the National Report. As the fact-checking site Snopes.com points out, a now-removed disclaimer on the National Report noted: "National Report is a news and political satire web publication, which may or may not use real names, often in semi-real or mostly fictitious ways. All news articles contained within National Report are fiction, and presumably fake news."
From the September 14 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends Saturday:
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From the June 1 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends Saturday:
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Fox invited Anti-Islam commentator Frank Gaffney to smear President Obama with "signaling surrender" to terrorists in his May 23 speech, ignoring Obama's direct references to the ongoing threat of terrorism and calls for increased vigilance in the face of "more localized threats."
On May 23, Obama appeared at the National Defense University to speak about ongoing counterterrorism efforts, the use of drone strikes overseas, and his plan to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay. Two days later, Fox hosted Center for Security Policy (CSP) founder Frank Gaffney, asking him why he felt "the president's speech was ill-advised and coming at an inappropriate time." In response, Gaffney falsely suggested that Obama had signaled a willingness to surrender, while calling for increased recognition of what he sees as a more expansive "global jihad" (emphasis added):
FOX ANCHOR ANNA KOOIMAN: Tell me a little about how do you feel like the president's speech was ill-advised and coming at an inappropriate time?
GAFFNEY: Well, you know, Memorial Day is an opportunity for us to reflect on one central reality throughout history. One side can't end a war except through either winning it or losing it, surrendering. And I'm afraid what the president laid out was pretty much a ruling out of winning and embrace, though he may not have said so much, of surrendering. And the trouble here is that we're not clear about who it is we're signaling a willingness to surrender too. We have been calling them terrorists for years. I don't think that's appropriate. We have been calling them violent extremists more recently under this administration. These are both euphemisms that really conceal what we're up against. Even Hillary Rodham Clinton on her way out the door said what we are facing now is global jihad and indeed that's what I think in each of those various scenes that you just showed we're dealing with here and certainly elsewhere is the folks who believe that it is their god's will they will impose their doctrine of Sharia on all of us. Muslims who don't want to be under that and us as well and they're willing to use violence and nonviolent means to do it.
GAFFNEY: Here is the rub: The folks who we're now signaling a willingness to accommodate are only emboldened by it, in fact their doctrine, this Sharia notion, as you can find in this document at securefreedom.org. It's a thin little précis of what the Muslim Brotherhood, not al Qaeda but other Islamists now under their banner are saying and it is that they will destroy us from within if possible by our own hands. We've got to be clear that's what we're up against.
Gaffney's analysis willfully misinterprets Obama's counterterrorism plans.
Obama's words stand in direct contrast to Gaffney's claim that he had signaled surrender. In his speech, Obama said the first goal of his counterterrorism strategy is to "finish the work of defeating al-Qaida and its associated forces" in Afghanistan and beyond.
Obama pointed out that "the threat has shifted and evolved from the one that came to our shores on 9/11" and said that the United States must "dismantle networks that pose a direct danger to us and make it less likely for new groups to gain a foothold, all the while maintaining the freedoms and ideals that we defend."
He acknowledged that extremists have gained "a foothold in countries like Libya and Syria," but described a strategy to deal with the threat:
In some cases, we continue to confront state-sponsored networks like Hezbollah that engage in acts of terror to achieve political goals. Other of these groups are simply collections of local militias or extremists interested in seizing territory. And while we are vigilant for signs that these groups may pose a transnational threat, most are focused on operating in the countries and regions where they are based. And that means we'll face more localized threats like what we saw in Benghazi, or the BP oil facility in Algeria, in which local operatives -- perhaps in loose affiliation with regional networks -- launch periodic attacks against Western diplomats, companies and other soft targets, or resort to kidnapping and other criminal enterprises to fund their operations.
Obama also noted the threat of homegrown terrorism, which he said "closely resembles the types of attacks we faced before 9/11." He emphasized the need to "take these threats seriously and do all that we can to confront them."
Fox's decision to turn to Gaffney for analysis of anti-terrorism efforts is ill-advised, considering his well-documented bias against Islam and propensity for distorting the issue.
The Southern Law Poverty Center has dubbed Gaffney "the anti-Muslim movement's most paranoid propagandist," and pointed out that he has "been banned from the Conservative Political Action Conference" because of past bigoted statements.
Media Matters has previously noted many of Gaffney's extreme comments, including his suggestion that the left and Islamists are both "advancing the takedown of America" and that for Muslims, "the preferred way of achieving [Shariah Law] is ... through violence."
From the April 6 edition of Fox News Channel's Fox & Friends Saturday:
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During a tease for Fox & Friends Saturday, Fox News hosts Alisyn Camerota and Clayton Morris perpetuated mischaracterizations of a Phoenix, AZ program designed to diversify the lifeguard ranks at city pools. Camerota falsely claimed that Phoenix would be hiring minority applicants as lifeguards, "even though they cannot swim" because the city must "meet quotas for diversity."
Camerota was echoing discredited myths about a lifeguard diversity program that right-wing websites like Fox Nation, Glenn Beck's The Blaze, and National Review Online have peddled in recent days. There is no evidence that a quota system is being used. In fact, the program she referred to is a scholarship that covers the cost of lifeguard-certification courses for minority students in order to encourage a more diverse field of applicants.
Despite Camerota's claim, all scholarship-sponsored applicants will still be required to pass a swim test before they are hired.
Will Fox News correct these mischaracterizations during their April 6 segment?
Fox News ignored military testimony in order to claim that the proposed overhaul of Guantanamo Bay facilities is intended to improve conditions for alleged terrorists, when in fact U.S. troops would be the primary beneficiaries.
Earlier this week, General John Kelly, head of U.S. Southern Command, spoke before the House Armed Services Committee on the immediate need for upgrades to U.S. detention facilities in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Kelly testified that the proposed overhaul to the base would cost between $150-170 million and would, among other things, build a new dining facility, hospital, and barracks for U.S. troops stationed there. Gen. Kelly urged Congress to approve the expenditures, stating, "We need to take care of our troops."
Notably, as NPR reported, "Kelly said none of the projects are aimed at improving the 'lifestyle' of the detainees. But the improvements will increase security and improve the ease of movement for the detainees, which will benefit the guards by making their jobs less complicated."
Fox & Friends Saturday omitted any mention of how the proposed renovations would improve facilities for U.S. troops. Instead, guest-host Jesse Watters, a producer for The O'Reilly Factor, suggested that they were intended to better the lives of suspected terrorist detainees: "These are terrorists. They were living in caves in Afghanistan, in mud huts, basically. Now we're saying Guantanamo bay, a federal facility in the Caribbean is not good enough for these guys?"
Fox News cribbed research and graphics directly from a National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) press release without disclosing their origin in order to attack President Obama's purported "sequester priorities."
In a Fox & Friends Saturday interview with NRCC chairman Greg Walden, co-host Tucker Carlson claimed that he was "going through a list here" of supposedly wasteful federal spending projects and crucial programs that are impacted by the mandatory spending cuts required by sequestration, but did not explain where that list originated. Every case of both worthwhile and allegedly worthless spending they discussed had previously been highlighted in a February 28 NRCC press release.
Later in the segment, Carlson asked Walden, "wouldn't it make sense for Republicans to come up with a list, push that list over to the White House, and publicize that list of pointless programs like this that ought to be cut?" Walden replied, "Absolutely."
Throughout this segment and a second segment Fox aired on-screen graphics that mimicked images included in the NRCC release in order to criticized what they termed Obama's "sequestration priorities." Here are those images, with the Fox versions on the left and NRCC versions on the right:
From the March 2 edition of Fox & Friends Saturday:
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From the February 23 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends Saturday:
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Fox News host Mike Huckabee is irked at President Obama for converting his campaign apparatus into a tax-exempt non-profit advocacy group. Appearing on Fox & Friends Saturday, the former Arkansas governor admonished the president by saying: "Fine, go ahead and have your organization. Pay taxes on it like the rest of us have to when we get out and speak in our businesses and personal lives."
This is nonsense. Huckabee has his own tax-exempt political action committee, Huck PAC, that he has hyped up on Fox News and uses to "promote conservative principles and help elect conservative candidates at every level of government." Indeed, Huckabee has made ample use of tax-exempt groups throughout his political career and actually has a sketchy history with non-profits.
Back when he was lieutenant governor of Arkansas, Huckabee and his allies formed a non-profit group that had just two functions: to pay for Mike Huckabee to travel across the country bashing health care reform, and to pay Mike Huckabee. The New York Times reported in December 2007, when Huckabee was running for president, that Huckabee had been losing money serving as lieutenant governor, and "to bridge the gap between his income and his expenses, Mr. Huckabee and a few close political advisers came up with a plan. They formed a nonprofit organization that raised money for Mr. Huckabee to travel the country promoting conservative politics to fellow ministers and attacking Hillary Rodham Clinton's health care plan."
The group, Action America, existed for only three years and paid Huckabee a total of $61,500 -- money that Huckabee failed to disclose, drawing a "letter of caution" from the Arkansas Ethics Commission.