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.
The hosts of Fox & Friends wondered whether a Washington Post infographic that shows the different levels of documentary identification required to vote in each state promotes voter fraud, and they also cast suspicion on the intentions of the country's leading Hispanic civil rights advocacy group that highlighted the article on Twitter.
The Washington Post published an informational piece on October 27 that summarizes which states in the U.S. require or request photo ID, another form of documentary ID, or a non-documentary form of identification to vote. The source The Washington Post relied on, the National Conference of State Legislatures, makes clear that the article and graphic focus on documentary identification, of which strict voter ID -- a photo ID requirement that is selective about which photo IDs are acceptable -- is the most stringent type. As the NCSL explains, not all states require documentary identification. Other states have " 'non-documentary' ID requirements, meaning voters must verify their identity in other ways, such as by signing an affidavit or poll book, or by providing personal information. In addition, all states have procedures for challenging voter eligibility."
But on the October 30 edition of Fox & Friends, hosts Steve Doocy, Anna Kooiman, and Brian Kilmeade highlighted the fact that the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), a Hispanic advocacy group, retweeted the Post article. Doocy suggested the Post is encouraging voter fraud, and Kooiman cast suspicion on NCLR's promotion of the article:
DOOCY: Are they, is The Washington Post promoting voter fraud or just doing a public service?
KOOIMAN: Well, I mean, The Washington Post just put it out there, but this immigration group tweeted it, and then La Raza retweeted it, and it wasn't just, you know, nonpartisan. It had the hashtag #TurnOutForWhat, which is the pro-Democrat hashtag.
Despite Fox & Friends' attempt to attribute a nefarious intention to the article and NCLR, strict voter ID laws have become a significant obstacle to many Americans attempting to vote, and because of ongoing legal challenges, the requirements to vote in many states are in flux. Eligible voters in Texas have already been turned away because of the state's restrictive voter ID law, which was recently blocked and then reinstated. A recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) study found that similar laws in Kansas and Tennessee brought voter turnout down 1.9 and 2.2 percentage points, respectively -- which amounted to 122,000 fewer votes. As The Washington Post explained in its summary of the report, "[y]oung people, black people, and newly registered voters were the groups that were more likely to see bigger drops in turnout."
Courts and social scientists have repeatedly found strict voter ID laws to be racially discriminatory toward or linked to bias against voters of color. Researchers at the University of Southern California found that when they emailed state legislators posing as a voter asking whether or not he could vote without a driver's license, "legislators who had supported voter ID laws were much more likely to respond to 'Jacob Smith' than to 'Santiago Rodriguez.'" The Washington Post's Wonkblog further summarized the findings:
"The fact that legislators supporting voter identification responded so much l[ess] to the Latino name is evidence anti-Latino bias, unrelated to electoral considerations, might be influencing these public policies," they write.
A University of Delaware study found that white survey respondents who saw a picture of black voters were more likely to support voter ID laws than those who were shown an image of white voters or no image. And two experts from the University of Massachusetts Boston wrote in The Washington Post's Monkey Cage blog that "restrictions on voting derived from both race and class":
The more that minorities and lower-income individuals in a state voted, the more likely such restrictions were to be proposed. Where minorities turned out at the polls at higher rates the legislation was more likely enacted.
More specifically, restrictive proposals were more likely to be introduced in states with larger African-American and non-citizen populations and with higher minority turnout in the previous presidential election.
And the Fox hosts' concern about supposed "voter fraud" is unfounded -- studies and investigations have found that in-person voter impersonation, the kind of fraud that voter ID laws are supposed to prevent, is so rare that it is almost nonexistent.
Fox News proved that love is blind in its latest interview with former Fox employee and current Republican Senate candidate Scott Brown.
With less than a week before the 2014 midterm elections, Brown was welcomed on the set of Fox & Friends with no disclosure of his prior affiliation with the network. Instead, hosts Steve Doocy and Brian Kilmeade praised Brown for "doing really well" in the polls and getting "within two points" of Shaheen. Kilmeade added: "I think both sides are saying you're one of the finest politicians they've seen because you like people."
Fox's softball questions didn't attempt to delve into Brown's platform, instead echoing Brown's own attacks on Shaheen's voting record. Doocy mistakenly congratulated Brown, who was elected Massachusetts Senator during Obama's presidency in 2010, for having an independent record under the Bush administration and claimed that, unlike Brown, Shaheen has served as a "rubber stamp" for her party's policies:
DOOCY: You just touched on something. When you were in the U.S. Senate you were not a rubber stamp, an automatic rubber stamp for George Bush's policies. However, you've been very effective in this particular senate race. Jean Shaheen has been a rubber stamp for President Obama.
BROWN: I was there with President Obama, not with President Bush, but that is correct, I was the most independent senator in the United States Senate. Senator Shaheen is the most partisan. So, we need to change direction.
Doocy failed to mention that his line about Shaheen being a "rubber stamp for President Obama" comes directly from the Brown campaign. During an October 6 debate Brown said, "You will have a clear choice, someone who is rubber stamping for the president's policies or someone who will be independent on the issues." Brown's "rubber stamp" attack has also been echoed by the Republican National Committee on Brown's behalf.
Fox has a long history of working to boost the electoral prospects of its former employees and has given Brown a particularly cozy platform to promote his campaigns. While Brown was still employed at Fox, its hosts repeatedly asked him whether he planned to run again, calling it a "terrific" idea. Brown has also said that his time at Fox "really charged me up to" run. Since his primary victory in New Hampshire, the network has repeatedly offered him free airtime to attack Shaheen.
From the October 29 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
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Days after several former Blackwater guards were found guilty of violent crimes related to the deaths of 17 Iraqi civilians, Fox News' Brian Kilmeade hosted Blackwater founder Erik Prince for an interview that glossed over the severity of the convictions and provided a platform for accusations that the prosecution was politicized.
On the October 27 edition of Fox & Friends, Blackwater CEO Erik Prince joined Brian Kilmeade to discuss US troops leaving Afghanistan. After decrying President Obama's strategy in Afghanistan, Kilmeade asked Prince about the recent murder, manslaughter, and weapons-related convictions of four former Blackwater guards. Kilmeade noted that the Blackwater guards had been found responsible for the deaths, describing the violent crimes as "something controversial." Kilmeade explained, "They have been convicted for what they say is that crime," though he made no mention of which specific crimes were being referenced.
KILMEADE: In 2007, your contractors were involved in something controversial in Iraq. And they've been convicted now -- four Blackwater guards responsible for the deaths of 14 Iraqi civilians, wounding 17 others. They have been convicted for what they say is that crime. What's your reaction to that?
Prince described the case as "highly politicized" and suggested contractors like Blackwater were "scapegoats."
Kilmeade ended the segment by hyping Blackwater as a solution to success in Iraq, saying, "And if actually we want to win the war, they should call you up."
From the October 28 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
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Conservative media praised the failed theory of trickle-down economics in response to Hillary Clinton's remark that the middle class, not tax cuts for corporations, spurs economic growth, a position backed by economists.
From the October 27 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
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Conservative media figures pointed to the news that 145 immigrants' names were flagged on North Carolina's voter rolls as proof of potential voter fraud in the upcoming election. But the discovery of these names actually disproves the potential for voter fraud, as the state's board of election is now confirming the citizenship of individuals who were flagged.
After spending weeks avoiding interviews with Iowa newspaper editorial boards who threatened to ask substantive policy questions, Iowa Republican Senate candidate Joni Ernst took refuge on Fox News, where hosts lavished her with uncritical praise.
Ernst has recently come under fire after cancelling or declining meetings with the editorial boards of major Iowa newspapers. Staff at key Iowa papers told Media Matters that Ernst's recent avoidance of them is nearly unprecedented and pointed to the importance of local papers as forum for candidates "to explain one's positions" to voters in her state.
But Ernst isn't avoiding the media entirely.
On October 24, Ernst sat down for a softball interview with the hosts of Fox & Friends. Fox ran two of Ernst's campaign ads -- her infamous pig castration spot and a recent sequel -- while co-host Peter Johnson, Jr. commented that Ernst had "captured the imagination of voters." Co-host Brian Kilmeade called her "one of the more exciting new candidates."
After co-host Anna Kooiman suggested that Ernst had set herself apart by not deciding to go negative, Fox aired a campaign ad on economic issues from her Democratic competitor, Rep. Bruce Braley, with an on-air graphic hyping "Democratic Attacks." The hosts gave Ernst the chance to criticize Braley but failed to press her for details about a platform many see as extreme:
Fox & Friends' praise of Ernst and string of softball questions is in line with the network's previous treatment of Ernst, which has previously conspicuously avoided mention of her controversial platform. Ernst is a climate change denier and has promoted a Glenn Beck conspiracy theory about the "United Nations' superseding U.S. laws, states nullifying federal laws and impeaching Obama." She has claimed that Obama has "become a dictator" and should maybe be impeached. The Washington Post has criticized Ernst for trying to "cover her tracks" on her previous support for a 'personhood' amendment that would ban abortion and some forms of contraception.
Conservative media are invoking one of their favorite Benghazi hoaxes to accuse President Obama of reluctance to characterize the fatal shootings near Canadian Parliament as terrorism, despite the fact that Obama framed it in terms of "terrorism" the day of the shooting, just as he called the Benghazi attacks "acts of terror" the day after the 2012 assault.
Conservative media are claiming that looser gun safety laws are key to preventing shootings like the one in Canada, a nonsensical stance given that the U.S. has far less restrictions on gun ownership and a higher incidence of gun violence compared to Canada and other high-income nations.
Fox News went to bat for a Virginia lobbyist-turned-farmer unhappy with the easement restrictions agreed to as a condition on the purchase of her property, characterizing the execution of the easement as an attempted "land grab" and government invasion.
On the October 22 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Brian Kilmeade summarized the story of farmer and right-wing political activist Martha Boneta with the tease, "Caught on camera: A woman's farm invaded by the government." Boneta appeared for an interview to explain how, in the words of co-host Steve Doocy, a "land grab" of her farm was in the works.
Boneta, a GOP donor and so-called "Tea party farmer," complained that because the Piedmont Environmental Council (PEC) owns conservation easements on her land, the group is conducting "invasive" and "abusive" inspections of the property. She proclaimed, "What we have here is an organization that has the power over thousands of acres of American farm land and yet there is no accountability to the American people or the democratic process."
Conservation easements are legally binding agreements entered into by private parties. And PEC is a private party, with a private property right attached to Boneta's farm that the organization's representatives are responsible for inspecting. Boneta's claim that PEC is "an organization that has the power over thousands of acres of American farm land" is simply her devious way of describing the basic right of a person or organization to purchase and own property and control the conditions upon which they transfer that property.
Thousands of low-income Detroit residents denied access to water over delinquent bills did not find much sympathy from the hosts of Fox & Friends, who argued, "If you're not paying for water, why should you get it?"
The city of Detroit has shut off water service to more than 27,000 households this year, an effort to address the water department's more than $5 billion in debt in a city where over 50 percent of residents are delinquent on their water bill.
An estimated 2,300 homes are still without water, despite the fact that the city has established a payment plan for some who are unable to afford their water bill. The city says that 33,000 customers are currently enrolled. According to U.N. human rights officials who made an informal visit to Detroit, the water disconnection constitutes a human rights violation.
But to the hosts of Fox & Friends, the water shutoffs were more justified. Co-host Ainsley Earhardt said that it is "devastating" that several thousand Detroit families don't have water and that she's sorry they can't afford to pay their bills, but declared:
EARHARDT: Why is that any different than any other bill that we have to pay? You don't pay your car payment, you don't pay your house payment, you lose your car. You lose your house. If you're not paying for water, why should you get it?
The hosts condemned the U.N. officials' determination that the water shutoffs constituted a human rights violation, claiming the U.N. was making "a deliberate attempt to embarrass the United States."
Fox's indignation didn't extend to the commercial and industrial businesses similarly behind on their water bills -- as of July, the city had not reported which delinquent businesses had seen their service disconnected. According to recent reports, the Detroit Red Wings' hockey arena and the Detroit Lions' stadium owe tens of thousands in unpaid water bills but still have service.
Detroit's water shutoffs take the greatest toll on low-income residents, a significant number of people given that nearly 40 percent of the city lives below the poverty line. People are often forced to choose between paying for rent, electricity, or water, and the water department has recently increased the price of service by almost 10 percent. Beyond water being a basic necessity for life, the lack of access has other repercussions -- it could be grounds for child protective services to remove children from their homes.
Fox News misleadingly attributed a drop in McDonald's quarterly profits to widespread calls for a minimum wage increase, even though the company itself pointed to image problems as the major factor in the loss, not the minimum wage.
Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo appeared on the October 22 edition of Fox & Friends to discuss a 30 percent drop in McDonald's quarterly profits. Bartiromo and the hosts agreed that calls for a minimum wage increase caused profits to drop and forced McDonald's to turn to automation:
STEVE DOOCY: Meanwhile, McDonald's, the Golden Arches, reporting a 30 percent drop in corporate profits.
BRIAN KILMEADE: Why? Well, it turns out workers' wages might be to blame.
BARTIROMO: Well, the issue really is, this is the implication of raising the minimum wage for certain companies. I mean, something's got to give. The money comes from somewhere. At some point, a company will say, "OK, we have a higher expense rate because we are raising the minimum wage we've got to do something somewhere else." In this case, they are going to automation. They are changing certain jobs to computers.
AINSLEY EARHARDT: So it's really biting them in the tail. They were complaining, saying "we want more money," and as a result, McDonald's saying,"Hey, we're going to lose some of you guys, and we're going to replace you with machines.
Fox & Friends offered no evidence to connect calls for a minimum wage increase and the profit loss. In fact, McDonald's CEO Don Thompson "owned up to some corporate image problems" as an explanation for the drop in profits, according to Reuters. The AP also detailed the fast-food company's image problems:
One of its biggest challenges in the U.S. is long-held perceptions around the freshness and quality of its ingredients. The chain has been fighting to boost sales as people gravitate toward foods they feel are more wholesome. As a result, people have been gravitating to places like Chipotle, which markets its ingredients as being of superior quality.
The Fox hosts also left out another important detail -- earlier this year, Thompson announced McDonald's would "support legislation that moves forward" on a minimum wage increase:
McDonald's Chief Executive Don Thompson told students at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management that it could handle a theoretical bump in the minimum wage to, say, $10.10 an hour, the figure supported by President Barack Obama and others.
"McDonald's will be fine," Thompson said in the May 12 discussion. "We'll manage through whatever the additional cost implications are."