Fox News contributor Allen West dismissed the recent capture of Benghazi terrorist suspect Ahmed Abu Khattala as a "smoke and mirrors" ploy and questioned whether Abu Khattala was really the "mastermind" behind the attacks or "the Obama administration's fall guy." Yet West just months ago co-signed a letter calling for Khattala's capture because he was the "ringleader of the attack."
During an appearance today on Fox News Radio, West said that Abu Khattala has been "seen out in public and everything, and now all of a sudden the American people are supposed to believe that he is the mastermind?" He added: "He ends up being the Obama administration's fall guy. Just the same as the poor guy who produced the quote, unquote, anti-Islamic video," a reference to Innocence of Muslims filmmaker Nakoula Basseley Nakoula.
On January 6, West co-signed a letter to House Speaker John Boehner demanding a Benghazi select committee and calling for the capture of Abu Khattala. The letter, which is posted on West's website, states:
Not a single terrorist in this well-planned and executed military attack by radical Islamists has been apprehended. Ahmed Abu Khattala, a ringleader of the attack, granted long interviews to reporters in Benghazi cafes, while the Obama administration -- and you -- have done nothing. Nearly 16 months after the terrorist attack, American public has no accountability and no plan of action from House leadership.
On the radio, West also bizarrely claimed that the attention on Benghazi was distraction from matters such as Iraq and immigration, stating: "This is all smoke and mirrors. This all distraction. This all wag the dog stuff coming out of the Obama administration while we have a serious situation going on in Baghdad, while we have a serious situation going in on our southern border." (To "wag the dog" means to "purposely divert attention from what would otherwise be of greater importance, to something else of lesser significance.") West similarly wrote on his website yesterday that Abu Khattala was "conveniently captured to deflect attention from all the other nightmares."
Listen to West's comments from the June 18 edition of Fox News Radio's Kilmeade & Friends:
In light of the Obama administration's mistake in releasing to the press the name of the CIA station chief in Afghanistan, right-wing media have rushed to create a false equivalence to the Bush administration's deliberate exposure of then-covert CIA agent Valerie Plame.
Fox News contributor Karl Rove exploited the Obama administration's accidental exposure of a CIA operative's identity to absolve his own culpability in deliberately leaking former CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity during the Bush administration.
Over the weekend, the name of the CIA's top officer in Kabul, Afghanistan, was "inadvertently included on a list provided to news organizations of senior U.S. officials participating in President Obama's surprise visit with U.S. troops. The White House recognized the mistake and quickly issued a revised list."
During the May 27 broadcast of Fox News Radio's Kilmeade & Friends, host Brian Kilmeade discussed the story and remarked: "You think Valerie Plame's a big deal, fine. She's at the -- she's at a desk job in the CIA. What about a guy in one of the most dangerous jobs in the world?"
Plame is a former CIA operative whose identify was leaked by Karl Rove and others in the Bush administration as payback for an opinion piece that her husband, Joe Wilson, wrote rebutting Bush's case for invading Iraq.
Rove -- who was a senior adviser and deputy chief of staff to President Bush -- responded on Kilmeade's show by claiming Plame "was not an active agent" and that he "didn't know her name. All I'd heard was the rumor that Wilson's wife had, at the CIA, had helped send him to Niger":
From the May 15 edition of Fox News Radio's Kilmeade & Friends:
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Fox News' penchant for linking everything to Benghazi has struck again, with Fox contributor Allen West bringing up the 2012 attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities during a discussion of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling's racist remarks.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver yesterday fined and banned Sterling from the league for life after Sterling was recorded telling his girlfriend he doesn't like her "associating with black people" and bringing "them to my games."
On Fox News Radio, West strongly criticized Sterling, but lamented that "the outrage of the public seems to be totally focused on Mr. Sterling" when "you've got this thing with Benghazi and we have an even bigger lie, an even bigger deceit, which is even more impactful on the country that no one is really caring about." From the April 30 edition of Kilmeade & Friends:
ALLEN WEST: [Sterling's comments are] disgusting. They're despicable. They're reprehensible. There's no doubt about that. And, you know, there's no place for that type of attitude or behavior. But what is really concerning, as I listen to the sound-bite montage that you played -- where is the outrage of the public? The outrage of the public seems to be totally focused on Mr. Sterling but, you know, you've got this thing with Benghazi and we have an even bigger lie, an even bigger deceit, which is even more impactful on the country that no one is really caring about.
BRIAN KILMEADE: Alright, we'll get to that in a second, and I see the relation there.
Right Wing Watch's Brian Tashman noted that West also connected Sterling to Benghazi in a column on his website. West claimed that "Donald Sterling's behavior is despicable, but so is that of President Barack Hussein Obama -- and whose abhorrent behavior has more impact on our country?" He added that "We know more about Sterling than Benghazi -- or the IRS scandal."
The conservative media, particularly Fox, have frequently invoked the Benghazi attacks while discussing unrelated events such as the missing Malaysian airplane, the Chris Christie bridge scandal, and openly gay NFL prospect Michael Sam.
Fox News host Gregg Jarrett ridiculed New York Mets player Daniel Murphy for taking paternity leave for the birth of his son. Jarrett said Murphy "is rich. He could have like twenty nannies taking care of his tired wife, and he's got to take off two days? It's absurd. It's preposterous."
Jarrett's remark came after controversy over similar criticism by New York radio broadcasters Boomer Esiason and Mike Francesa. Esiason, a former professional quarterback, said he would have told his wife to have a C-section so he wouldn't miss any games, while Francesa said, "You see the birth and you get back ... Your wife doesn't need your help the first couple days." Esiason later apologized for his "flippant and insensitive remark." Francesa is reportedly standing by his remarks.
Paternity leave is a common practice in baseball. Fairleigh Dickinson University professor Scott Behson wrote in The Wall Street Journal that "almost 100 baseball players, including three other players this season, have taken paternity leave since MLB enacted the policy in 2011, according to Paul Mifsud, Senior Counsel for Labor Relations for Major League Baseball. None have received the public criticism Murphy had to endure." Teams are not short a player during paternity leave, as they are allowed to replace that player for up to three days (Mets minor league infielder Wilmer Flores, for instance, substituted for Murphy).
Major League Baseball, however, is an outlier when it comes to providing paid paternity leave in the United States. The United States does not guarantee paid maternity or paternity leave, and just "three states, California, New Jersey and Rhode Island, offer paid family and medical leave."
Fox News used a misleading report from the anti-immigration Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) to accuse the Obama administration of "destabilizing the nation" by releasing undocumented immigrants with criminal backgrounds. In fact, data show that the Obama administration has met its enforcement mandate to prioritize the deportation of immigrants with criminal convictions, which has resulted in a substantial increase of such deportations.
Fox News reflexively attacked President Obama's forthcoming proposal to raise the salary threshold for overtime compensation, claiming the plan would hurt the economy and discourage hiring, though experts have previously promoted such a change as an opportunity to boost the economy and worker compensation.
From the February 24 edition of Fox News Radio's Tom Sullivan Radio Show:
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Fox News reporter John Roberts believes the Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) bridge story has the potential to be "very damaging" because "unlike what's happened with President Obama" and the controversy in which the IRS allegedly targeted conservatives, Christie's scandal happened in his "living room."
Recently released communications have revealed that a top aide to Christie urged a top transportation official who is a high school friend of Christie to close lanes onto the George Washington Bridge as political retribution against a Democratic mayor who didn't endorse Christie's re-election bid. The lane closures caused a massive four day traffic jam. Christie announced during a press conference today that he fired the aide in question.
During an appearance today on Fox News Radio's Kilmeade & Friends prior to the press conference, Roberts said that the scandal "has the potential to be very damaging to Gov. Christie because, you know, unlike what's happened with President Obama -- you know, the IRS thing was a woman who was in Cleveland. This is in the governor's living room. This is his deputy chief of staff. And as you mentioned his best friend who he went to high school with. It's difficult for him to be able to fully separate himself from this without at least giving the appearance that he doesn't know what's going on in his own home."
He added that the scandal "reinforces the worst perceptions about Gov. Christie. It makes it look like a Tony Soprano-type of administration. And while people in New Jersey appreciate many of the things that the governor has done, on the national level, if you want to run for president, you can't look like this is the way that your administration would operate. "
On the day the scandal broke, Fox devoted significantly less coverage to the story than CNN and MSNBC. Fox's coverage should provide an indication of the network's hot and cold relationship with Christie, a potential 2016 presidential candidate who Fox News chairman Roger Ailes urged to seek the presidency in 2012 and who has previously enjoyed fawning coverage across the media.
Fox News Radio reporter Todd Starnes defended homophobic remarks made by a star of the A&E reality show Duck Dynasty, blasting "intolerant, anti-Christian," and "Anti-Straight" "haters" for deigning to criticize the comments.
In an interview with GQ, Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson called homosexuality a sin, comparing it to bestiality and equating gay people with "drunks" and "terrorists." "It seems like, to me, a vagina - as a man - would be more desirable than a man's anus," Robertson told the magazine. The LGBT advocacy group GLAAD condemned Robertson's remarks as "vile." Starnes expressed outrage at criticism of Robertson's remarks, writing on Twitter:
Starnes is one of Fox News' most rabid purveyors of homophobia. He has urged fans to donate to anti-gay hate groups, endorsed anti-LGBT business discrimination, promoted the conspiracy theory that President Obama is secretly gay, and blamed "heterophobic bigots" for the withdrawal of an anti-gay pastor from Obama's inaugural ceremony. While Starnes is keen to malign supporters of LGBT equality as "intolerant" "bigots," his history of hateful commentary exposes his virulent bigotry.
Fox News' Todd Starnes accused a Georgia elementary school of "confiscating" Christmas cards in an effort to stifle religious expression, prompting outrage from residents and threats of corrective legislation from Georgia lawmakers. But according to the school district, Starnes' allegations are completely false.
In a story posted on his Fox News Radio show titled "Georgia School Confiscates Christmas Cards," Starnes cited the husband of one teacher at the school who claimed many teachers were "disgruntled by the school's decision to confiscate the Christmas cards." Starnes asserted that the Bulloch County Board of Education "cracked down" on the Christmas card display, as well as many other acts of "religious expression in their schools" :
Teachers have been ordered to remove any religious icons or items from their classrooms - ranging from Bibles to Christian music.
Teachers have also been instructed to avoid student-led prayers at all costs. Should they be in a room where students are praying, teachers have been ordered to turn their backs on their students.
Hundreds of outraged residents have joined a Facebook page to protest the crackdown - and many are vowing to attend a school board meeting on Thursday to let school officials have a piece of their mind.
The Board of Education released a statement late Tuesday denying the moving of the Christmas cards had anything to do with the "current open and ongoing discussions that the school system is having with local citizens about religious liberties and expression."
"We don't want this misinformation to derail the positive work we are committed to with our community leaders," Supt. Charles Wilson said in a prepared statement. "I'm appalled by this attack on our school system, and on Brooklet Elementary."
After Starnes' article, right wing media outlets picked up his story adding to outrage in the community. Town Hall reprinted Starnes' article and The Blaze reported that according to Fox News, "administrators reportedly asked teachers to move a group of hallway Christmas cards out of the view of students." Starnes' report even led one Georgia state senator, Judson Hill (R), to denounce the Bulloch County Board of Education and threaten to "explore possible legislation, if needed, to protect religious freedom of GA taxpayers":
Fox News Radio reporter Todd Starnes urged listeners to donate money to two anti-gay hate groups that routinely accuse gay men of being pedophiles.
The Family Research Council (FRC) and American Family Association (AFA) are two of the most extreme anti-gay hate groups in American politics. They regularly peddle smears about LGBT people, including the myths that gay men are more likely to engage in pedophilia and are responsible for the Holocaust. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC):
Together, the Family Research Council (FRC) and the American Family Association (AFA) may comprise the most important anti-gay lobby in this country... The FRC and the AFA are certainly among the most powerful groups on the American religious right.
They are also among the chief purveyors of lies about LGBT people. They have both regularly pumped out propaganda asserting that gay men molest children at far higher rates than their heterosexual counterparts -- a claim that has been debunked by virtually all the recognized scientific authorities in the field. The FRC has claimed that gay activists "work to normalize sex with boys," seek to "abolish all age of consent laws and to eventually recognize pedophiles as the 'prophets' of a new sexual order," and support anti-bullying programs solely in order to promote homosexuality. The AFA has declared that "homosexuality gave us Adolph Hitler ... the Nazi war machine and six million dead Jews," suggested that gay sex be punished like heroin use, and said that the "homosexual agenda" endangers "every fundamental right" in the Constitution, including religious freedom. Both groups have enthusiastically promoted "reparative therapy," which claims against the bulk of the evidence that it can "cure" gay men and lesbians and make them heterosexual, but in fact has left a string of people behind who were badly hurt by the process. [emphasis added]
On the October 23 edition of FRC's Washington Watch radio program, FRC president Tony Perkins invited Starnes on to once again falsely accuse the military of persecuting Christian groups because of their opposition to homosexuality. At the end of the segment, Starnes - who has acted as a de facto mouth piece for AFA and FRC on Fox - encouraged listener to "pick up that phone and throw a few dollars into the cause" by donating to the notorious anti-gay groups:
STARNES: Tony, I want to thank American Family Radio. This is a share-a-thon.There's a reason why we need groups like Family Research Council, why we need folks like American Family Radio. Get the word out there, airing my daily commentaries. So folks, pick up that phone and throw a few dollars into the cause.
This isn't the first time a Fox News employee has solicited donations for an anti-gay group. In August, Fox News contributor Erick Erickson encouraged his supporters to give money to the Alliance Defending Freedom, a group working to criminalize homosexuality abroad.
Fox News anchor Martha MacCallum suggested that voters are less likely to blame Republicans for the government shutdown than they did during the mid-90s shutdown because they're watching Fox News.
During an appearance on Fox News Radio, MacCallum, who co-hosts America's Newsroom, referenced comments from colleague Brit Hume to remark that during previous shutdowns, "you didn't have a lot of things." She added, "Fox News Channel was just beginning. People are very -- it's a different world in terms of what people understand about what's going on. In those days, it was much easier to pin the problems in this on the Republicans ... I'm not sure that they're going to punish the Republicans to the extent that they did last time around. I think they get it, and I think that they're very divided on it."
MacCallum's remarks from the October 9 edition of Fox News Radio's Kilmeade & Friends:
MACCALLUM: I thought it was very interesting what Brit Hume said yesterday on our show, and that was that, you know, seventeen years ago, the last time we went through this, you didn't have a lot of things. You know, you didn't have -- you know, Fox News Channel was just beginning. People are very -- it's a different world in terms of what people understand about what's going on. In those days, it was much easier to pin the problems in this on the Republicans. I think that people are very tuned in to this issue and we know that. Because we know they're watching, we know they care about it, and I think that, I'm not sure that they're going to punish the Republicans to the extent that they did last time around. I think they get it, and I think that they're very divided on it.
Members of the media, especially Fox News, have undertaken a campaign of false equivalency by assigning blame to both Republicans and President Obama on the government shutdown. But congressional experts have noted that the Republicans' extreme positions have led to the current government shutdown.
Fox News has reported on a number of alleged cases of Christian persecution in the military, relying heavily on the claims of a San Antonio pastor with a history of peddling misinformation about efforts to protect LGBT people.
On September 30, Fox News Radio reporter Todd Starnes published an article warning that the Air Force is "punishing evangelical Christians" - a right-wing myth he's been peddling unsuccessfully for months.
His article relied largely on statements made by Steve Branson, pastor of Village Parkway Baptist Church in San Antonio, Texas. According to Branson, persecution of Christian service members is on the rise thanks to the growing acceptance of gays and lesbians in the military:
"There is an atmosphere of intimidation at Lackland Air Force Base," said Steve Branson, the pastor of Village Parkway Baptist Church in San Antonio. "Gay commanders and officers are pushing their agenda on the airmen. There is a culture of fear in the military and it's gone to a new level with the issue of homosexuality."
"The religious persecution is happening," the pastor said. "It's getting bigger every day. Gay and lesbian airmen can talk about their lifestyle, but the rest have to stay completely quiet about what they believe."
Starnes primarily relied on the case of Air Force Sgt. Phillip Monk, who baselessly claims he was reprimanded for opposing marriage equality despite repeated denials by the Air Force, to support this conspiracy theory.
Aside from Monk's story, Starnes' only evidence of a military-wide anti-Christian conspiracy is what Branson claimed to have been told at a private meeting with "at least 80 airmen" at his church:
Branson tells me at least 80 airmen attended a private meeting at the church where he heard them voice their concerns about religious hostilities at the Air Force base. It was a standing-room only crowd.
"They're getting mirandized several times a month - but most of the accusations never stick," Branson tells me. "Branson said he's getting email and letters from military personnel across the country - telling him their stories of religious persecution - and asking for help.