Despite a number of significant economic developments, major network and cable Sunday shows have been largely silent on the economy.
Media Matters research reveals that from May 12 to June 9, five major Sunday shows devoted only approximately 35 minutes of economic coverage.
During this time period, the Sunday shows were silent on the economy and missed an opportunity to cover significant developments.
Despite the various economic developments over this period, CNN and major network Sunday shows devoted little time to those stories. Only during the week of June 2 did coverage of the economy rise above five minutes, which provided three-quarters of the coverage for the entire five-week period.
In recent weeks, Sunday morning network news programs have virtually ignored economic issues, instead devoting hours of coverage to the September attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya; improper targeting of conservative nonprofits by the Internal Revenue Service; controversial federal investigations of national security leaks; and new revelations about National Security Agency surveillance programs.
From the June 9 edition of Fox Broadcasting Co.'s Fox News Sunday:
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This past weekend on Fox News Sunday, Chris Wallace tossed up a softball for Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC): "Senator Graham, you say that President Obama may not have directly ordered the IRS to target conservative groups, but that there was a culture of political manipulation that filtered down from the White House. Explain what you mean." Wallace was describing Bureaucrat Whispering: the increasingly popular conservative theory that President Obama, while not directly involved in the IRS scandal, is still culpable because the tax agency employees subconsciously picked up on his anti-Tea Party vibes.
Wallace then confronted Durbin with a letter the senator wrote in October 2010 that Wallace suggested contributed to "this culture." Durbin defended the letter (a request that the IRS investigate the political activities of non-profit groups like Crossroads GPS) but Wallace was unmoved: "Why not, because we're now in the mess that we are in because of political targeting, why not send a letter that says, go after any group of any political persuasion?" Left unsaid by Wallace was the fact that the IRS began singling out Tea Party groups for scrutiny in March of 2010 -- a full seven months before Durbin sent that letter. That means the cultural ripples caused by Durbin's IRS dispatch would have had to be so potent that they tore the fabric of space-time.
This gets to the core of what Bureaucrat Whispering really is: a catch-all repository for conservatives eager to link the White House to the IRS scandal. It's a theory that can't be proved or disproved; how does one conclusively demonstrate that IRS underlings at a poorly managed office in Cincinnati were swept up in Obama-inspired anti-Tea Party fervor? So conservatives are just throwing whatever bugs them about Obama at the wall and hoping something will stick.
Media coverage of the automatic spending cuts commonly known as sequestration has tapered off since the policies went into effect on March 1. This drop in coverage comes as more Americans report having personally felt the effects of the cuts.
Fox host Chris Wallace criticized President Obama's counter-terrorism speech which redefined how the country fights global terrorism by comparing the 12 year "war on terror" to the 40 year Cold War. However, Wallace ignored Obama's promise to continue targeting terrorist networks and the president's speech has been praised by supporters and critics of the administration.
President Obama promised an end to the perpetual warfare that began following the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon during a May 23 speech at the National Defense University. On the May 26 edition of Fox News Sunday, host Chris Wallace used Obama's call to redefine the "boundless war on terror" as a "series of persistent targeted efforts" to suggest that the president is declaring the war over too soon and putting the country in danger, adding that "the Cold War lasted for 40 years":
In fact, rather than declaring the threat of terrorism over as Wallace suggested, Obama made clear that he would continue to target and dismantle terrorist networks, while working to repeal the Authorization to Use Military Force which has kept "America on a perpetual wartime footing." From the speech:
Fox News Sunday selected Victoria Toensing and Joseph diGenova, attorneys who represented witnesses at a Republican-led hearing on the attacks at a U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya, for its "power players of the week," an unfortunate choice given that both individuals misled Fox News and its viewers about allegations of threats and intimidation against their clients and about efforts by the administration to prevent their clients from testifying.
Though Fox News Sunday aired certain aspects of Toensing and diGenova's biographies, the segment neglected to mention that the two have a history of poor professional conduct, including criticism from a Democratic congressman for inappropriate behavior and actions while they worked as congressional investigators due to their constant media appearances attacking President Clinton. They were also accused of having a conflict of interest for representing a Republican committee chairman under Justice Department investigation while simultaneously serving as special counsel to the committee in a separate investigation. More recently, Toensing pushed the false claim that outed CIA agent Valerie Plame had not been covert, in addition to other falsehoods.
On April 29, Fox's Special Report aired video of Toensing claiming that people who wanted to testify on Benghazi "have been threatened," which Fox & Friends aired the following morning. Toensing was also cited by Special Report on April 29 in reporting the allegations that "the Obama administration is trying to intimidate potential whistleblowers into silence" and that possible witnesses were having their careers threatened. And a May 6 FoxNews.com article by Fox Washington correspondents James Rosen and Chad Pergram sourced a claim that a witness named Mark Thompson "has been subjected to threats and intimidation by as-yet-unnamed superiors at State, in advance of his cooperation with Congress" to diGenova, who was representing Thompson.
But testimony by the witnesses at a GOP-led hearing on May 8 and subsequent interviews of their attorneys on Fox News revealed that Toensing and diGenova misled the network by claiming that their clients had suffered threats, intimidation, and orders to keep quiet. When asked on Fox's Your World on May 9 about claims that Thompson had been threatened, diGenova replied that Thompson "actually hasn't said that," and explained that his client "didn't feel intimidated."
Gregory Hicks, another witness at the hearing -- represented by Toensing -- explained under questioning that he had not been told not to speak to congressional investigators, only that he was required to have a State Department attorney present while doing so. Hicks also explained that, in contrast to claims that the administration tried to silence him, he was interviewed twice by the State Department's independent Accountability Review Board that was created to investigate the Benghazi attacks. Hicks' testimony further contradicted Toensing's April 29 claim to Special Report that careers were being threatened when he explained that "the overriding factor" in his determination to not return to his post in Libya was to remain with his family in the United States.
From the May 19 edition of Fox Broadcasting Co.'s Fox News Sunday:
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Evening news coverage throughout April touched upon several economic issues, including income inequality, deficit reduction, and entitlement cuts. A Media Matters analysis of this coverage reveals that many of these segments lacked proper context or necessary input from economists, while some networks ignored certain issues entirely.
Broadcast and cable Sunday political talk shows featured previously debunked myths about the September 11, 2012 attacks on diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya.
Right-wing media are using a congressional hearing to push new myths about the Obama administration's response to the September 11, 2012 attacks on a U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya. In fact, these myths are discredited by previous congressional reports and testimony, which show that the politicized nature of the hearings come from right-wing media and Congressional Republicans, that the military could not have rescued personnel from the second attack, that the administration was in constant communication at all levels during the attacks, and that the intelligence community believed there was a link to an anti-Islam video at the time of the attacks.
Fox News is falsely suggesting a new Weekly Standard article proves the CIA didn't link the Benghazi attacks to an anti-Islam YouTube video. In fact, CIA talking points obtained by the conservative magazine actually demonstrate the intelligence community believed there was a link between the attacks and reactions to the video.
Conservative writer Stephen Hayes' piece for The Weekly Standard reported that an initial September 14 draft of talking points by the CIA's Office of Terrorism Analysis stated that members of an al Qaeda-linked terrorist group were involved in the Benghazi attacks, but that point was later removed by administration officials. Hayes provided images of various versions of the CIA's talking points, including a bullet in "Version 1" stating: "We believe based on currently available information that the attacks in Benghazi were spontaneously inspired by the protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and evolved into a direct assault against the U.S. Consulate and subsequently its annex."
In the final version of the document, that bullet read:
The currently available information suggests that the demonstrations in Benghazi were spontaneously inspired by the protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and evolved into a direct assault against the U.S. diplomatic post and subsequently its annex. There are indications that extremists participated in the violent demonstrations.
In his piece, Hayes still criticized the Obama administration for mentioning the YouTube video since the word "video" did not appear in the talking points:
More troubling was the YouTube video. [Ambassador Susan] Rice would spend much time on the Sunday talk shows pointing to this video as the trigger of the chaos in Benghazi. "What sparked the violence was a very hateful video on the Internet. It was a reaction to a video that had nothing to do with the United States." There is no mention of any "video" in any of the many drafts of the talking points.
However, as Media Matters noted, the CIA's reference to the Benghazi attack being "inspired by the protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo" proves that the intelligence community itself believed that a link existed between the attacks and the film. The "protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo" were part of a series of global riots and protests in Muslim countries that were partly in response to increased awareness of the anti-Islam video. As prior media reports have noted, Ambassador Rice used the CIA's information during numerous television interviews on September 16.
In recent days, Fox News has used the Standard piece to suggest the intelligence community didn't believe the attacks and the anti-Islam videos were linked.
Rich Lowry and Jennifer Rubin complained that President Obama used the term "women's health" and did not mention the word "abortion" while speaking in front of Planned Parenthood on April 26, despite the fact that abortions only make up a small portion of the women's health services that Planned Parenthood provides.
On the May 5 edition of Meet the Press, host David Gregory quoted a May 2 blog post by National Review editor Rich Lowry that appeared in Politico in which he wrote:
President Barack Obama was proud to become the first sitting president to address Planned Parenthood last Friday. But not proud enough to utter the word "abortion."
The unwritten rule is that when the left discusses abortion it is never called "abortion," but always referred to as "health" or, more specifically "reproductive health" - although abortion is the opposite of reproduction and for one party involved, the opposite of health.
Gregory read text from the blog in which Lowry stated unequivocally that "the left" is substituting the term "women's health" for "abortion." Gregory then provided MSNBC contributor and The Grio managing editor Joy-Ann Reid an opportunity to briefly respond to Lowry's question about why the president didn't mention abortion if it's "such a wonderful thing."
Host Chris Wallace brought up Obama's speech to Planned Parenthood as well during the May 5 edition of Fox News Sunday. Jennifer Rubin of The Washington Post, responded by saying:
RUBIN: I find his language so telling. He won't even use the word "abortion," he says "women's health." Can he not bring himself to say that we are talking about terminating pregnancies?
Despite the widely held, and repeatedly debunked, right-wing myth that the overwhelming majority of services provided by Planned Parenthood are abortion services, they make up a very small part of the services Planned Parenthood provides. One in five American women has chosen Planned Parenthood for health care at least once in her life and according to Planned Parenthood's latest annual report, abortion services made up a mere three percent of the services performed in 2011, while 95% of the services provided included STD testing and treatment, cancer screening and prevention, and contraception:
During the segment, Wallace himself provided statistics showing some of the other women's health services provided by Planned Parenthood:
According to Fox News Sunday's Chris Wallace, the conservative Heritage Foundation is set to release a report that claims immigration reform will cost taxpayers billions of dollars. But Heritage's analysis is reportedly based on a 2007 study that was widely discredited by experts for its faulty methodology and dubious conclusions.
On KFTK's Allman in the Morning, Wallace stated that he plans to host Heritage Foundation president and former Republican Sen. Jim DeMint to introduce the report this weekend. Wallace said that the report will show that the proposed Senate immigration reform bill will "cost the Treasury billions of dollars" because "people would be eligible for Obamacare and various welfare programs."
In fact, as Wallace himself noted, undocumented immigrants who are granted legal status under the Senate bill will not be eligible for federal public benefits or subsidized health care for at least a decade. Moreover, immigrants are less likely than native-born Americans to rely on such programs.
Wallace went on to criticize the conservative myth that immigrants come to the United States to gain access to government benefits.
Here are five facts media should know about the Heritage Foundation's previous problematic immigration report:
William Kristol wants to go to war in Syria, but he won't say what that war should look like. Appearing on Fox News Sunday to discuss reports of chemical weapons attacks in Syria, the Weekly Standard editor (and noted Iraq war hawk) attacked President Obama as "totally irresponsible" for indicating that he doesn't want "to start another war," saying: "You've got to do what you've got to do."
When host Chris Wallace pointed out to him that there are "no good choices" for intervening in the Syrian conflict and asked, "so what do you do?," Kristol brushed it off without indicating how he thought the president should respond: "You do what you think is best. You're commander in chief, you've got an awful lot of options."
Kristol's call for (non-specific) military action got a boost from Fox News senior political analyst Brit Hume, who observed: "There's something to be said for doing something. That if they cross a line, you've got to do something. Now whatever it is may not directly affect the chemical weapons use, but if it directly affects and harms the regime's prospects in the war, that would at least be a consequence."
According to Hume, doing "something" (whatever that is) wouldn't be as difficult as people suspect. "This isn't Mission: Impossible."