On March 21, Fox News repeatedly claimed that reporters from other U.S. outlets, but not from Fox News, were lured to Muamar Gadhafi's compound in Tripoli and successfully used as human shields. But Fox had to "clarify" the story late that evening when it turned out that someone from Fox News was also at Gadhafi's compound.
In honor of the one year anniversary of the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Media Matters presents a timeline of one of the most disgraceful and pernicious myths about the law--death panels.
The right-wing media has consistently portrayed the medical case of Canadian baby Joseph Maraachli as a fight for survival, claiming he was "rescued" from the Canadian hospital treating him, thus "sav[ing]" the child's life. In fact, Maraachli's condition is incurable -- a fact conceded even by the conservative priests who facilitated moving Maraachli to a Catholic hospital in the U.S. -- and the Canadian hospital had agreed to all of his parents' requests to discharge and transfer the child.
Numerous mainstream media outlets have reported on Republicans' accusations that the Obama administration's drilling policies are to blame for the recent increase in gas prices. These media have failed to alert their audiences to the fact that according to energy experts, the allegation is entirely without merit.
Despite the fact that President Obama was born in Hawaii, Tucker Carlson's Daily Caller lets frequent Caller columnist and "Fox News Forum Contributor" Tommy De Seno go birther in a column headlined "The birther movement is President Obama's fault":
I've long maintained that the existence of the "birther movement" is President Obama's fault. He could dispel the rumors about his birth by simply showing everyone his 1961 birth certificate. By doing so, he would also save a lot in legal fees. Yet, no one has ever asked Obama why he'd rather lose money than show his birth certificate. It's time to ask that question.
If he really wants the birthers to shut up, he has the power to do so by releasing the 1961 document. Why not just do it then? It's a simple task.
I call shenanigans on the straw-man argument that "the birthers still won't believe him." Yes, they will. And so too will others who just don't know where he was born, not because they are kooks, but because Obama himself acts kooky in spending money to win lawsuits he could win for free by showing his birth certificate.
By defending the lawsuits and not showing the 1961 document, Obama feeds the suspicion of those who already think he is lying. That's why this issue has the power to linger, and that's Obama's fault alone. I hope the birthers continue to bite his ankles until he releases the records. He deserves nothing less for making this issue stay with us.
That blame-the-victim birther nonsense won Tommy De Seno a spot on the Daily Caller's front page:
On July 29, 2009, FoxNews.com published a similar piece by De Seno, as Media Matters noted at the time. That piece was headlined "Obama's to Blame for the Birther Movement" and, contained many of the same lines he uses in the current Daily Caller piece. Both quote Ronald Reagan's "trust but verify" line, for example. Both contain the lines "Sure his grammar school records show that he was enrolled as an Indonesian Muslim, but some people will say anything to get their kid in the right school. It doesn't really answer the question." Both ask of Obama's purported failure to prove his birthplace, "Why not get rid of a conversation that has been with America since the campaign"? Both reference John Kerry's Yale records.
So here's what we've learned today: The way to get a piece published on the Daily Caller's front page is to recycle an 18th-month-old FoxNews.com column peddling birther conspiracy theories.
Remember when Tucker Carlson insisted the Daily Caller wouldn't be a right-wing site?
Fox News promoted Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer's claim that the federal government has failed to "do its job" on border security without mentioning that border security efforts have increased measurably under President Obama: Deportations, drug seizures, and the number of Border Patrol agents have all increased.
In recent weeks Fox has repeatedly promoted skeptics' view that "there is no global warming," dismissing the extensive body of evidence supporting the scientific consensus on climate change. Meanwhile, congressional Republicans are drafting legislation to prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act.
Last week, Fox News' Bill O'Reilly said he had "a call in to Al Gore" asking him to explain the large amounts of winter snow in the Northeast. Gore responded on his blog, stating that "the scientific community" says " increased heavy snowfalls are completely consistent with what they have been predicting as a consequence of man-made global warming."
Now Gawker reports that Fox News columnist Gene Koprowski subsequently posted a request on ProfNet for "comments from someone who can point out the ridiculousness of [Gore's] argument, even if you accept the somewhat-implausible argument. I've been assigned this story just now by Fox News in New York for the science and technology desk. I'm looking for comments."
Koprowski doesn't seem to have found an expert willing to give him what he wants, as his most recent contribution to FoxNews.com was January 15. That's probably because while climate scientists generally avoid blaming global warming for individual storms (it's long-term trends that count), Gore is right that experts say the snow storms we're seeing are consistent with global warming.
Rolling Stone recently included News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch in its list of politicians and executives it contends are "blocking progress on global warming," writing that "Murdoch's entire media empire, it would seem, is set up to deny, deny, deny." Indeed, for years, Fox News has done more than any other major news outlet in the United States to sow confusion about climate change, as this list of Fox News' top 10 climate science distortions demonstrates.
In an article titled, "Five Reasons the Planet May Not Be Its Hottest Ever," FoxNews.com sought to debunk the fact that Earth has warmed over the past 30 years, as well as the notion that human activity has contributed to the warming. But Fox largely ignored climate science and botched basic facts in the article, portions of which "are utter nonsense" and "do not make sense" according to climatologists consulted by Media Matters, including one of the skeptics cited by Fox.
The calculator asks users to enter their gross annual income, then spits out "your taxpayer share" of the total cost of the bill. Chris Wallace, for example, promoted the calculator on the January 19 edition of Special Report (accessed via Nexis), stating, "[C]heck out our tax calculator on the FOXnews.com homepage to see how much the new healthcare law is costing you." But here's the problem, like so much of Fox's coverage of the health care bill, it just isn't accurate. The nonpartisan Tax Foundation took a look at the calculator and concluded that "the calculator suffers from so many flaws that its numbers are essentially meaningless." From the Tax Foundation:
Fox News recently put up an online calculator that purports to show individuals their personal share of the cost of health care reform. CBO, in its final score of the reform bills, put the total gross cost of the new coverage provisions at $938 billion from 2010 to 2019. The calculator is designed to show you how much of that $938 billion you are personally responsible for. It's an interesting idea, but the calculator suffers from so many flaws that its numbers are essentially meaningless.
Yesterday, FoxNews.com published an article outlining the recent public spat between National Public Radio and Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO) over his recently reintroduced bill to defund NPR. After playing stenographer to both Rep. Lamborn and NPR, the article concludes:
NPR says only 1 percent to 3 percent of its $166 million budget is funded by taxpayer dollars. But a recent report by the Congressional Research Service found that taxpayers fund at least 4 percent of NPR's budget, while an analyst at the conservative American Thinker estimated it was closer to 25 percent.
So, we have a report from the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service being placed on equal footing with an unnamed "analyst" at a conservative blog.
The "analyst" in question is Mark Browning, who probably does not fit most readers' definition of that term: he teaches English at Johnson County Community College. After he published his piece at American Thinker and a similar op-ed in the New York Post, Browning appeared on Fox & Friends to discuss NPR. The chyron during that appearance billed him as an English professor, and made no mention of any other experience which might qualify him to accurately estimate the funding sources of NPR's budget. To uncritically bill him as an "analyst" implies a level of credibility that simply does not exist, given the available details about his background.
Further, the comparison between these two completely leaves out a number of assumptions Browning makes in his so-called "estimate." Browning contends that federal funds trickle into NPR's national budget in several ways, among them grants from publicly funded organizations, tax-funded university dollars, and deductions for donations. Browning tries to estimate the sum of those funds, and in doing so runs fast and reckless with the numbers. From Browning's article:
At first glance, this distribution of funds seems to confirm that public radio's support does not come in large amounts from the direct allocation of tax moneys. After all, 5.6% is not a gigantic portion of the budget, is it? But let's look more closely. That 10.1% that comes from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting is 99% provided by -- you guessed it -- the federal government. Those university funds, whenever they are provided by a public university, represent taxpayer-provided dollars. We can safely assert that three out of four university-supported stations are publicly funded, which means that more than 10% (three-quarters of that 13.6%) is taken from the taxpayer's pockets.
99 percent of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting's budget comes from the federal government? That would come as news to the authors of the Fox article that cites Browning's estimate, seeing as how they report that only 13 percent of CPB's budget is federally funded:
NPR issued a statement this week blasting Lamborn's two bills, one which would defund the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which receives 13 percent of its funding from taxpayers and awards NPR some grant money. The other would eliminate federal funding just for NPR. Local public radio stations are more dependent on federal funding than NPR is.
Who would have thought we'd see the day when Fox News published an estimate relying on data debunked in its own reporting? Browning continues:
Those university funds, whenever they are provided by a public university, represent taxpayer-provided dollars. We can safely assert that three out of four university-supported stations are publicly funded, which means that more than 10% (three-quarters of that 13.6%) is taken from the taxpayer's pockets.
Uh-huh. That might make sense, if one could credibly argue that public university budgets were entirely comprised of tax dollars. Apparently, despite working for an institution of higher learning, Browning is unfamiliar with the concept of tuition, or donations from graduates. More from Browning:
Obviously the support by individuals, businesses, and foundations does not constitute taxpayer funding, right? Not so fast. These donations are tax-deductible; thus, they are subsidized by the government. Granted, not every gift is actually reflected on an individual or business tax return, and not all of those that are itemized wind up offsetting high marginal tax rates. Still, it is reasonable to believe that on average, these gifts result in deductions at the 25% tax bracket. Since these three categories add up to roughly 64% of station funds, we can reasonably argue that 16% of that money (64% x 0.25) is subsidized by the tax code.
If one considers tax-deductible donations to be a federal subsidy, then all manner of organizations receive so-called federal funding: The Heritage Foundation, Save the Children, The American Civil Liberties Union, and (Gasp!) Media Matters for America. Representatives of conservative organizations would likely balk at the suggestion that their acceptance of tax-deductible donations constitutes federal funding... because that's ridiculous.
If FoxNews.com is going to put an American Thinker post on the same level as a CRS report, they should at least explain how that post arrived at its absurdly higher number.
So to review the entire process chronologically: (1) Browning writes flimsy, hole-ridden estimate of NPR's funding. (2) Fox & Friends, a Fox News opinion program, brings Browning on to discuss NPR. (3) FoxNews.com cites Browning's work, as that of an unnamed analyst, on par with that of the Congressional Research Service, in supposedly straight news reporting. In other words, this is one more time Fox has used opinions from its commentary programming to manufacture so-called straight news.
John Lott has penned a FoxNews.com op-ed criticizing as "a mess" a recent University of Maryland study which found that Fox News viewers were more likely to be misinformed than those who did not watch the network. However, the op-ed makes its case by misinforming readers on the economic stimulus, health care reform, and climate science.
FoxNews.com is usually an extension of Fox News' ostensibly "straight news" division-- a farcical distinction, as illustrated by memos recently obtained by Media Matters showing efforts by Fox News executives to slant its coverage of the health care reform debate and climate change.
In reality, FoxNews.com has promoted bogus scandals, such as the New Black Panther Party case and "patently false" voter fraud accusations. And while they typically leave the blatant right-wing bias to their sister site, Fox Nation, some of their headlines from today made it seem that their New Year's Resolution is to become even less "fair and balanced":
In the days following the blizzard in New York City, right-wing media seized on a Republican NYC councilman's claim that a deliberate union slow-down was responsible for the city's widely criticized snow removal. In fact, numerous city officials, including Mayor Michael Bloomberg, say there is no evidence for the claim and many reports have cited other factors likely to be responsible, such as the mayor's failure to declare a state of emergency and an inadequate number of sanitation workers.