Fox News spent a good portion of today running wild with the GOP talking point that the Congressional Budget Office undermined its December 19 and 20 estimates that the Senate's health care reform bill would reduce deficits by $132 billion during the first 10 years, with continued deficit reductions in the ensuing decades.
For example, FoxNews.com advanced the Republican spin under the headline, "Senators cite new budget letter to argue health care bill will hike deficit."
Problem for Fox News: The Congressional Budget Office actually reaffirmed its support for its estimate. Sen. Max Baucus noted on the Senate floor that day that he had received an email from CBO standing behind the earlier figure and explicitly stating that the memo pushed by Republicans and Fox News did not alter the earlier estimate:
BAUCUS: CBO says, CBO and the staff at the Joint Committee on Taxation estimate that the legislation would reduce the federal budget deficit by $132 billion during the ensuing period. Next, CBO expects the legislation will reduce federal budget deficits during the decade beyond 2019 relative to those projected under current law with a total effect during that decade in a broad range of one-quarter percent and one-half percent of GDP. Of course, we know that's about $650 billion to $1.3 trillion. That's CBO. Today.
From the front page of FoxNews.com at 7:04 pm ET:
The conservative media seem to be having some difficulty figuring out what to make of Sen. Ben Nelson's support for health care reform.
Here's Fox's take:
Nelson Accused of Selling Vote on Health Bill for Nebraska Pay-Off
What started as Sen. Ben Nelson's personal stand against covering abortion with taxpayer money translated, somehow, into millions of dollars in federal aid for his home state.
Critics were calling it the "cornhusker kickback" and the "Nebraska windfall," lobbing accusations of political deal-making at Nelson.
And the Weekly Standard:
Ben Nelson, Cheap Date (Cont.)
According to the CBO, Nelson got $100 million for Nebraska in Medicaid funding--20 percent of what Massachusetts got
Maybe they should huddle up and decide whether they want to attack Nelson for selling his vote for a massive windfall, or for being a "cheap date" who got far less than Massachusetts. We'll wait.
Visitors to Fox News' web page today encountered this fair and balanced headline:
What? CBO says the Senate health care bill will reduce deficits. Why does Fox News headline the opposite?
Because the CBO now says the Senate health care bill will reduce deficits by slightly less than it had previously estimated. That, once Fox News runs it through their patented Lie-O-Mator 3000, turns into "CBO: Senate Health Bill Won't Reduce Deficits."
UPDATE: Or, um ... this.
A headline posted on FoxNews.com falsely claimed, "CBO: Senate Health Bill Won't Reduce Deficits." In fact, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) concluded that the bill would reduce federal deficits by $132 billion over 2010-2019 and would continue to reduce deficits in subsequent decades.
Yesterday, we pointed out that Fox News' unofficial gay-baiter Maxim Lott had followed up on his false allegations against Department of Education official Kevin Jennings - which resulted in a humiliating retraction - with a new smear piece.
In an article headlined "Obama's Safe Schools Czar Tied to Lewd Readings for 7th Graders," Lott reported that Jennings "is under fresh attack after it was revealed that the pro-gay group he formerly headed recommends books his critics say are pornographic." Lott buried the group's disclaimer that those books recommended for grades 7-12 "contain mature themes" and the recommendation that "adults selecting books for youth review content for suitability," grossly distorted the contents of those books, and at least two of the "critics" he cited are anti-gay bigots.
In short, he did an atrocious job. But hey, if there's anything we've learned over the past months, it's that there's a market for smears of Jennings; no matter how dubious, the right-wing fever swamp will run with it.
And so, Gateway Pundit - who's been channeling Jennings smears from the anti-gay "hate group" MassResistance for the past few weeks -- quickly picked it up:
And, of course, it's currently the top story on Andrew Breitbart's BigGovernment.com:
Oh, by the way, neither Hoft nor BigGovernment are acknowledging that Lott actually debunks one of the false smears they pushed - that "fisting kits" were distributed at a 2001 GLSEN event. According to Lott, "The kit was actually for making a "dental dam" -- designed to prevent STD transmission during oral sex." Which, of course, was pretty obvious, given that the kit reportedly consisted of "a single plastic glove, a package of K-Y lubricant," and instructions titled "How to Make a Dental Dam From a Latex Glove."
Three months ago, Fox News was forced to issue a humiliating retraction of the false allegations it had leveled against Department of Education official Kevin Jennings. Now, Maxim Lott, the FoxNews.com reporter at the center of those falsehoods, has re-emerged with more smears of Jennings.
This time, in an article headlined "Obama's Safe Schools Czar Tied to Lewd Readings for 7th Graders," Lott reported that Jennings "is under fresh attack after it was revealed that the pro-gay group he formerly headed recommends books his critics say are pornographic." In the article, Lott grossly distorts the contents of books recommended by GLSEN for grades 7-12 and waits until the 13th paragraph to disclose that the list of books included the disclaimer that they "contain mature themes" and the recommendation that "adults selecting books for youth review content for suitability."
And just who are the "critics" who apparently inspired Lott's article? In short: anti-gay bigots.
There's Peter Sprigg of the Family Research Council, who last year announced his desire "to export homosexuals from the United States" -- a comment for which he later apologized (sort of). FRC's website states: "Family Research Council believes that homosexual conduct is harmful to the persons who engage in it and to society at large, and can never be affirmed. It is by definition unnatural, and as such is associated with negative physical and psychological health effects."
Lott also quoted Peter LaBarbera of American for Truth about Homosexuality. LaBarbera has explained that his attacks on Jennings are "all about homosexuality and the 'gay' activist agenda whose singular goal is to normalize homosexuality as a 'civil right.' "
The fact that Fox continues to allow Lott to report on Jennings is some of the strongest evidence yet that the network isn't a news outlet at all but is actually a right-wing political organization whose mission is to concoct dishonest, bigoted attacks with which to damage progressives and the Obama administration.
Let's revisit some of Lott's past work on the Jennings beat.
On September 30, Lott reported as fact that more 21 years ago, as a young teacher in Massachusetts, Jennings "didn't report that a 15-year-old boy told him that he was having sex with an older man."
At the time, there was substantial evidence available that Lott's claim was false. As Media Matters pointed out, a publicly available 2004 letter from Jennings' lawyer stated that the student was actually 16 years old when the conversation took place. The Massachusetts age of consent is -- and was at the time -- 16; Jennings was under no obligation to report anything. (The student later said that he "had no sexual contact with anybody at the time.")
On October 1, after reporting as fact that the student was "15," Lott apparently decided to check whether this claim was true. As Media Matters exclusively revealed, Lott sent a Facebook message to the student, asking if the "rumor" that he was 15 at the time was "accurate."
Normally, this is the sort of thing journalists ask before leveling allegations at public servants. But Lott and Fox News are apparently so obsessed with gay-baiting that accuracy has become a secondary matter that can wait until after they've run with their charges.
On October 2, two days after Lott's story ran, Media Matters published a statement from the student and a copy of his driver's license, definitively proving that he was 16 at the time of his conversation with Jennings. That same day, the student wrote to Lott and demanded a correction. Eventually, Fox added the following editor's note to the top of Lott's article: "Since this story was originally published, the former student referred to as 'Brewster' has stepped forward to reveal that he was 16 years old, not 15, at the time of the incident described in this report."
Three months later, Lott's back. And he's got a new smear.
In an article headlined "Obama's Safe Schools Czar Tied to Lewd Readings for 7th Graders," FoxNews.com's Maxim Lott reported that Department of Education official Kevin Jennings "is under fresh attack after it was revealed that the pro-gay group he formerly headed recommends books his critics say are pornographic." But Lott did not note until the 13th paragraph of his article that the list of books recommended by the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) for grades 7-12 included the disclaimer that they "contain mature themes" and the recommendation that "adults selecting books for youth review content for suitability"; moreover, at least two of the "critics" cited by Lott have a history of anti-gay bigotry.
Conservative media figures have attacked Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's (D-NV) remarks linking slavery to Republican opposition to health care reform legislation, but have routinely attacked progressives and the Obama administration for creating "slavery" and enslaving the public.
On December 3, a FoxNews.com article and Special Report host Bret Baier both reported that Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) senior fellow Christopher Horner has threatened to sue NASA, alleging that the space agency has distorted climate change data; additionally, Horner appeared on the December 3 edition of Fox News' Hannity and the December 4 edition of Fox & Friends to discuss Horner's accusations. However, not once during these segments did Fox News personalities note that CEI has received millions of dollars from Exxon Mobil Corp. and foundations linked to the oil industry.
A FoxNews.com article headlined, "Rumsfeld cries foul on Obama claim troop requests for Afghanistan were denied," uncritically reported that former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld "said in his statement the White House should make public any such requests if they exist to back up the allegation" and repeated his comments that "[t]he president's assertion does a disservice to the truth and, in particular, to the thousands of men and women in uniform who have fought, served and sacrificed in Afghanistan." FoxNews.com ignored the fact that a request for additional troops from Gen. David McKiernen, then commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, went unfulfilled during the Bush administration and was granted by President Obama in March.
In a November 30 piece, FoxNews.com contributor John Lott joins the conservative freak-out over "climate-gate," claiming that "CRU's temperature data and all of the research done with it are now in question" and "[t]here is no precedent for so many academics engaging in coordinated efforts to distort research for political ends."
We've already debunked much of the hysteria over "climate-gate," but Lott probably isn't the best person to complain about research integrity.
In 2003, it was revealed that Lott had been defending the integrity of his own research online over the previous three years under the pseudonym "Mary Rosh." In one posting, Lott/Mary gushed: "I have to say that [Lott] was the best professor I ever had." Lott was trashed by liberals and conservatives alike; Michelle Malkin wrote that "Lott's invention of Mary Rosh to praise his own research and blast other scholars is beyond creepy. And it shows his extensive willingness to deceive to protect and promote his work." Lott has also been caught using fraudulent data for his research.
More recently, Lott was criticized for botching research to cry voter fraud in the Franken-Coleman recount. Veteran Minnesota reporter and media critic David Brauer called Lott's purported research "baseless sliming" and "disgusting," while Minneapolis Star Tribune editor Glenn Howatt said that Lott's "numbers are simply wrong."
Commenter M. Rosh, however, calls Lott's "climate-gate" piece "brilliant."
A graphic posted on FoxNews.com suggested that President Obama is responsible for all of the $3.5 trillion in federal outlays for Fiscal Year 2009. In fact, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has stated that "much" of the 2009 increase in spending "results from legislation enacted in calendar year 2008 in response to turmoil in the housing and financial markets-in particular, $133 billion for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) and $291 billion for the estimated costs of placing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac into conservatorship."
The Drudge Report and FoxNews.com have seized on a Washington Times article that falsely suggests the Obama administration excluded Republican lawmakers from its first state dinner on November 24, honoring Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. In fact, as the Times itself reported, Obama invited several Republicans, including the House and Senate Minority leaders, and some are declining to attend.
The Fox Nation and FoxNews.com advanced the suggestion that Democrats' health care plans are, in Fox Nation's words, a "Ponzi scheme," a charge presumably based on Sen. Jon Kyl's (R-AZ) claim that "[w]hen they claim a savings ... in the first 10 years, that's because they start collecting taxes in 2010 they don't start spending money till 2014." In fact, contrary to Kyl's suggestion that savings would not extend past the first 10 years, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projected that the Senate health care bill would continue to reduce the deficit beyond the first 10 years by as much as $650 billion in the decade beginning after 2019.