Fox News is glossing over the near-unanimous consensus* on climate change by citing a fringe study that claims the phenomenon is minor and "not dangerous." But the network did not mention the latter's industry ties or dubious pedigree -- or that a major report is expected to undercut it later this month.
Happening Now first mentioned the questionable study Wednesday, in a segment on a hearing in the House of Representatives. Host Gregg Jarrett and Fox News reporter Doug McKelway suggested that two new pieces of evidence weaken testimony offered in support of the science behind climate change: a leaked draft of the forthcoming U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) fifth assessment report, which McKelway claimed "will acknowledge temperatures have remained stable for the last 15 years or so," and a just-released study from a similarly-named front group, the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC), which concludes that warming will likely be "modest and cause no net harm." Based on these, McKelway concluded, "evidence of global warming is coming under increased scrutiny and increased doubt."
However, Fox News omitted what is expected to be the signature finding of the IPCC, an unpaid group that works to summarize the state of climate science and has been called "inherently conservative" in its approach -- that "the odds are at least 95 percent that humans are the principal cause" of climate change (short-term trends do not undermine this verdict).
Seeking to downplay the impacts of climate change, Fox News claimed that sea-level rise would only amount to "a few inches over a century" in a "worst-case scenario." However, just a few days prior, a draft report from the world's top climate scientists showed that the actual number would be around three feet, exacting a great toll on coastal cities.
On Fox News' America's Newsroom Thursday, anchor Gregg Jarrett suggested that former Vice President Al Gore "tends to exaggerate" the consequences of global warming, alleging that Gore said "the sea level would rise 20 feet" (more on that later). Jarrett continued, "Scientists are laughing at that, saying 'wait a minute, okay, maybe, worst-case scenario, a few inches over a century.'"
But if anyone is "laughing," it should probably be at Gregg Jarrett, who has evidently modeled his own disregard for science on that of the North Carolina general assembly. Earlier this week, a leaked draft of a major report from the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) found that sea levels could rise by more than three feet by the year 2100 if greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise rapidly -- in other words, a "worst-case scenario." Only in a scenario in which "the world's governments would prove far more successful at getting emissions under control than they have been in the recent past" would sea level rise be limited to "as little as 10 inches" in addition to the eight-inch rise we've already experienced, according to The New York Times. Some scientists have said this assessment is "overly conservative," and there are studies suggesting "the possibility of as much as two meters (six feet) sea level rise by 2100."
Fox News' Gregg Jarrett attempted to diminish the record of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, smearing her legacy and asking what she has "actually achieved."
On the August 9 edition of Fox News' America Live, guest host Gregg Jarrett attacked NBC chairman Bob Greenblatt for calling Clinton "one of the most fascinating women of our time and this world." Jarrett claimed Greenblatt was "gushing like a tweenage [sic] girl when he said it." Jarrett went on to attack Clinton, claiming "I actually gave [Greenblatt] the benefit of the doubt and tried to figure out what she's achieved" before playing a clip of Clinton at a Benghazi that has repeatedly been distorted by Fox:
Fox News promoted its upcoming food stamp special by stigmatizing participants of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps, by complaining that recipients don't feel sufficient shame and by hyping anecdotal evidence that the system is being manipulated.
In a preview for Fox News' upcoming special The Great Food Stamp Binge, America Live guest host Gregg Jarrett and Fox News editor-at-large Peter Boyer attacked SNAP recipients, complaining that while there "used to be a sense in this country that if you are on the government dole, there was a little bit of a stigma attached, a little bit of shame involved" but that the "government to some degree has helped to try to break down the resistance" to joining the program. The segment aired an interview with a man Jarrett referred to as "surfer dude" and "surfs by day, plays in his band at night, and eats wonderfully, lobster, generally speaking, on his food stamps, courtesy of you, the taxpayer":
Jarrett and Boyer's attack on SNAP recipients is only the latest in Fox's campaign to stigmatize low-income Americans. Fox host Stuart Varney has long attacked SNAP recipients, and low-income individuals in general, claiming they are the victims of a government plot to increase dependency and buy votes, that they have appliances to make their lives comfortable, and that they lack "richness of spirit." The campaign against SNAP and its beneficiaries has been driven by Fox News hosts across the network.
But contrary to Fox's characterization of SNAP recipients as lacking shame and their promotion of "surfer dude's" story, the majority of recipients are working-class Americans with jobs, senior citizens, or children. A 2013 report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities found that the "overwhelming majority of SNAP recipients who can work do so" (emphasis original):
The overwhelming majority of SNAP recipients who can work do so. Among SNAP households with at least one working-age, non-disabled adult, more than half work while receiving SNAP -- and more than 80 percent work in the year prior to or the year after receiving SNAP. The rates are even higher for families with children -- more than 60 percent work while receiving SNAP, and almost 90 percent work in the prior or subsequent year.
The number of SNAP households that have earnings while participating in SNAP has been rising for more than a decade, and has more than tripled -- from about 2 million in 2000 to about 6.4 million in 2011. The increase was especially pronounced during the recent deep recession, suggesting that many people have turned to SNAP because of under-employment -- for example, when one wage-earner in a two-parent family lost a job, when a worker's hours were cut, or when a worker turned to a lower-paying job after being laid off.
A separate report pointed out that "Almost 70 percent of SNAP recipients are not expected to work, primarily because they are children, elderly, or disabled."
Fox's attack on SNAP recipients comes as hunger and poverty have reached elevated levels following the economic downturn. A 2012 study by the Department of Agriculture found that nearly 15 percent of U.S. households were "food insecure at least some time during" 2011, "including 5.7 percent with very low food security - meaning that the food intake of one or more household members was reduced and their eating patterns were disrupted at times during the year because the household lacked money and other resources for food."
From the August 8 edition of Fox News' Happening Now:
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Fox News ignored economists' support for Rep. Keith Ellison's (D-MN) financial transaction fee bill, called him "radical," and claimed he believes "citizens are indentured servants to the state."
On the August 6 edition of America Live, Gregg Jarrett hosted Fox News contributors Tony Sayegh and Sally Kohn to discuss a recent video of Ellison's appearance at a roundtable hosted by the Progressive Democrats of America. After playing a short clip of Ellison's remarks, Sayegh claimed Ellison's remarks represent "a radical view of progressives who believe that the American people are indentured servants to the state," adding that "literally he thinks we should be an ATM machine for government programs." Jarrett responded by claiming: "you get the clear sense that he thinks that your hard earned wages are literally government property and folks in Washington can reach into your pocket and grab more of it anytime they want":
But Jarrett and Sayegh misrepresented his remarks. Ellison was specifically discussing the Inclusive Prosperity Act, a bill that would impose a fee of a fraction of a percent on certain financial transactions, also known as a Robin Hood tax. As Kohn pointed out, the addition of small financial transaction fees on the billions of transactions that take place on Wall Street is not a radical or controversial idea. According to RobinHoodTax.org, a group that advocates for the tax, the fee would only affect Wall Street transactions and would have no impact on other Americans:
This small tax of less than ½ of 1% on Wall Street transactions can generate hundreds of billions of dollars each year in the US alone.
It won't affect ordinary Americans, their personal savings, or every day consumer activity, such as ATMs or debit cards. It's easy to enforce and tough to evade.
This is a tax on Wall Street, which created the greatest economic crisis in our nation, and globally, since the Great Depression. The same people who have returned to record profits and bonuses while ordinary Americans, the 99%, continue to pay the price of their crisis.
In a December 2009 open letter that was signed by over 200 economists, the Center for Economic and Policy Research pointed out that the tax would generate revenue "while having little impact on trades that have a positive impact":
The cost of trading financial assets has plummeted over the last three decades as a result of computerization. This has led to an enormous explosion in trading volume, with most trades having little economic or social value and redistributing disproportionate resources to the financial sector. A set of modest financial transactions taxes, which would just raise trading costs back to the level of two or three decades ago, would have very limited impact on trades that have real economic value.
Such taxes could both reduce the volume of speculation in financial markets and provide substantial revenue for either important public purposes and/or deficit reduction. Financial transactions taxes could be an important part of a reform package that seeks to remake the financial sector so that it better serves the larger economy.
Economist Paul Krugman explained in November 2011 that the small tax "could yield several hundred billion dollars in revenue over the next decade" without hurting the economy:
And then there's the idea of taxing financial transactions, which have exploded in recent decades. The economic value of all this trading is dubious at best. In fact, there's considerable evidence suggesting that too much trading is going on. Still, nobody is proposing a punitive tax. On the table, instead, are proposals like the one recently made by Senator Tom Harkin and Representative Peter DeFazio for a tiny fee on financial transactions.
And here's the thing: Because there are so many transactions, such a fee could yield several hundred billion dollars in revenue over the next decade. Again, this compares favorably with the savings from many of the harsh spending cuts being proposed in the name of fiscal responsibility.
But wouldn't such a tax hurt economic growth? As I said, the evidence suggests not -- if anything, it suggests that to the extent that taxing financial transactions reduces the volume of wheeling and dealing, that would be a good thing.
And it's instructive, too, to note that some economies already have financial transactions taxes -- and that among those who do are Hong Kong and Singapore. If some conservative starts claiming that such taxes are an unwarranted government intrusion, you might want to ask him why such taxes are imposed by the two countries that score highest on the Heritage Foundation's Index of Economic Freedom.
Reacting to Detroit's recently announced bankruptcy, Fox News' Gregg Jarrett and Chris Stirewalt repeatedly conflated Detroit automakers with the City of Detroit in order to attack President Obama for breaking a campaign promise to not "let Detroit go bankrupt." However, the President's statement was clearly in reference to the Detroit automakers that received government assistance, not the city itself.
According to The New York Times, "Detroit, the cradle of America's automobile industry and once the nation's fourth-most-populous city, filed for bankruptcy on Thursday, the largest American city ever to take such a course." After it was reported that the White House did not plan to offer financial assistance to the City of Detroit, Jarrett and Stirewalt questioned whether President Obama had gone back on a statement he made in October 2012 when he said, "We refused to let Detroit go bankrupt." Jarrett asserted, "The president did vow, 'I will not let Detroit go bankrupt.' But you know, he did, didn't he?"
But, as CBS News reported at the time, Obama's statement was in reference to an op-ed written by Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney in which Romney said, "Let Detroit go bankrupt." According to CBS, the president was responding to that op-ed by pointing to the success of his administration's bailout of the auto-industry."
OBAMA: Just a few years ago, the auto industry wasn't just struggling - it was flatlining. GM and Chrysler were on the verge of collapse. Suppliers and distributors were at risk of going under. More than a million jobs across the country were on the line - and not just auto jobs, but the jobs of teachers, small business owners, and everyone in communities that depend on this great American industry.
But we refused to throw in the towel and do nothing. We refused to let Detroit go bankrupt.
As Slate's Matthew Yglesias wrote, President Obama and others often used the term "Detroit" to refer to the auto industry. According to Yglesias, "If you or someone you love is going around and finding old quotes in which the words 'Detroit' and 'bankruptcy' appear but it's absolutely clear from context that 'Detroit' is being used as metonymy for auto companies rather than as a way of referring to the municipality then please stop."
Fox News host Gregg Jarrett falsely claimed that "Stand Your Ground had nothing whatsoever to do in the [George] Zimmerman case" as a means to attack July 19 remarks made by President Obama on the controversy surrounding the death of Trayvon Martin and Zimmerman's subsequent acquittal. Despite convincing evidence that Stand Your Ground was influential in the trial's outcome, Jarrett said that Obama was either "oblivious" or "simply trying to bring on more acrimony over a controversial subject" by discussing the law.
From the July 19 edition of America Live:
Jarrett's claim that Stand Your Ground (also called "Shoot First" or "Kill at Will") had no bearing on the Zimmerman case is contradicted by the statements of a Zimmerman juror who said the law, in part, provided a legal justification for Zimmerman's actions. The juror's statement was no surprise, as the text of Stand Your Ground was included in instructions to the jury explaining Zimmerman's possible defenses.
From the June 30 edition of Fox News' America's News HQ:
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Fox News is desperate.
The Roger Ailes scandal machine, watching its Benghazi witch hunt crumble all around it, is now trying to stoke outrage that President Obama downplayed the tragedy in Benghazi and insulted the survivors by calling it an "incident" during his May 16 comments to the press.
Here's Fox anchor Gregg Jarrett on the May 16 Happening Now reacting to comments Obama made on the Benghazi tragedy:
He referred to Benghazi as an incident, which I'm sure is an insult to the survivors and the family members of the four murdered Americans.
Got that? Obama, whom Fox figures have accused of letting Americans die for political gain, now stands accused of insulting the survivors by downgrading the tragedy to an "incident."
Except Obama also called Benghazi a tragedy in the very speech that triggered Jarrett's outrage:
We lost four brave Americans, patriots who accepted the risks that come with service because they know that their contributions are vital to our national interests and national security. I am intent on making sure that we do everything we can to prevent another tragedy like this from happening.
But that means we owe it to them and all who serve to do everything in our power to protect our personnel serving overseas. That's why at my direction we've been taking a series of steps that were recommended by the review board after the incident.
It is a fitting coda to Fox's months-long scandal mongering over the tragedy in Benghazi. Jarrett is deceptively attacking the president over comments he made in the Rose Garden, the very spot where Obama first labeled the attack an act of terror, comments that have been decontextualized and parsed endlessly to help promote the entire pseudo-scandal.
Fox's desperate attempt to breathe life back into the "scandal" comes days after the network's scandal machine began a campaign to call for a special prosecutor to investigate the president. This is how the voice of the opposition works. Turning Benghazi into Obama's Watergate is central to the Fox goal of bringing down the administration.
Which is why Fox is desperate to keep it going.
Fox News and Fox Business previously portrayed electric carmaker Tesla Motors as another "failure" of the Obama administration's green energy investments. But since it is now clear that the company is doing well, both networks have developed amnesia about its federal loan, with Tucker Carlson claiming that "they don't take any government subsidies at all."
Tesla recently reiterated its plans to repay a loan granted through the Department of Energy's Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing program ahead of schedule. This followed a series of positive developments, including the company's first quarterly profits and a shining review of the Model S sedan by Consumer Reports. Financial services firm Morgan Stanley recently told Raw Story that "Many funds approach an investment opportunity by first asking: does the company do something better or cheaper than anybody else? Tesla is beginning to convince the market it may do both."
But no matter how Tesla fares in the coming years, it seems likely that Fox News will change its reporting to follow suit. In 2012, Fox News' claim that Tesla was a "failed" company was eventually adopted by the campaign of then-presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Later, Fox News admitted Tesla was a "success", eventually forgetting its federal loan in the process.
Video created by Max Greenberg and John Kerr.
From the May 14 edition of Fox News Channel's America's Newsroom:
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Fox News continued right-wing media attempts to dismiss the voices of the families of the Newtown, CT shooting victims, discounting their efforts to encourage Congress to pass stronger gun laws by suggesting that President Obama is "engineering them for political purposes" and "outright manipulating them."
Since the December 14 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, which left 26 people dead, family members of the victims have taken an outspoken role in pushing for tougher gun laws.
Following the tragedy, many of the families traveled to Hartford, Connecticut to help push for a tougher new state-level gun law that Gov. Dannel Malloy (D) recently signed into law. After Republican senators threatened to filibuster gun reform legislation, more than 30 families of Newtown victims released a statement criticizing the lawmakers. The families have also been lobbying lawmakers on Capitol Hill to push for new gun measures. The lobbying efforts of these families for stronger gun laws have been ongoing and effective.
This has led to an attempt by right-wing media figures to marginalize the Newtown families as little more than "props" being used by Obama and Democrats to strengthen gun laws. On April 9, Fox News White House reporter Ed Henry said the president "used the victims of the Newtown tragedy to make their case." That same day, Fox News host Mike Huckabee suggested that Obama bringing the families to Washington, DC on Air Force One to allow them to make their case for stronger gun laws was "an exploitation of those parents."
On April 10, Fox News host Sean Hannity accused Obama of "once again using families of tragedy as props for his agenda." On his April 11 radio program, Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade claimed that Obama was "using the Newtown families." On April 12, Rush Limbaugh accused Democrats of using the Newtown parents as "human shields."
Then, during the April 15 edition of America's Newsroom, guest co-host Gregg Jarrett continued the effort to marginalize the Newtown families, saying they are "still very, very emotionally vulnerable" and suggesting the president is "engineering them for political purposes" and is "outright manipulating them into taking a stand on a vital constitutional right." Jarrett also asked if the president is "exploiting this tragedy and the grieving families for political purposes."
Despite these efforts to paint the Newtown families as merely political props being exploited by Democrats and the president, the families have continued to push for stronger gun laws. On April 14, Francine Wheeler, the mother of a 6-year-old killed in the shooting, gave Obama's weekly address, in which she urged the Senate to pass gun reform legislation.
Fox News buried Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal's (R) decision to back down on his plan to eliminate the state's income tax, praising the now-dead proposal just days after Jindal acknowledged Louisianans reject the scheme.
While the network has not covered* Jindal's April 8 speech rescinding the proposal, Fox News' America's Newsroom dedicated a segment on April 10 to the idea of repealing Louisiana's income tax. Before introducing Stephen Moore of the Wall Street Journal editorial board, guest host Gregg Jarrett framed the topic, saying: "Creating jobs and helping put more money in your wallet--the state of Louisiana wants to scrap its state income taxes." As Jarrett continued, Fox displayed a graphical summary of the plan Jindal withdrew two days earlier:
In his speech to state lawmakers, Jindal explained his decision to withdraw that plan as a recognition of fierce opposition to it. From The Times-Picayune:
The speech is a major concession that Jindal's proposal, a complicated plan contained in a total of 11 bills, is unpopular both within and outside the Legislature. The proposal has come under increasingly heavy fire in recent weeks as business groups and advocates for the poor have assailed its effects and think tanks have questioned whether the math in the proposal adds up.
Jindal acknowledges the strong opposition to the proposal in his prepared remarks.
"I realize that some of you think I haven't been listening. But you'll be surprised to learn I have been," according to the text of the speech. "And here is what I've heard from you and from the people of Louisiana -- yes, we do want to get rid of the income tax, but governor you're moving too fast and we aren't sure that your plan is the best way to do it.
"So I've thought about that. And it certainly wasn't the reaction I was hoping to hear. And now I'm going to give you my response and it's not the response people are accustomed to hearing from politicians.
"Here is my response: 'Ok, I hear you,' " according to the text of the speech. "So I am going to park my tax plan."
The governor went on to request that lawmakers write an income tax repeal bill of their own, and his administration has reportedly signaled interest in repealing the income tax even without any accompanying plan to make up the lost revenue.
Numerous major news outlets reported on Jindal's speech as both a setback for his political career and a victory for the poor. MaddowBlog's Steve Benen noticed this is the second such rebuke Jindal's suffered so far this year, after his plan to end hospice care for Medicaid beneficiaries went down in the face of stiff criticism. But on Fox, Jarrett and Moore didn't just ignore Jindal's reversal. They praised Jindal's stillborn plan as a near-heroic effort to boost economic growth in his state. "The real story here is that Bobby Jindal is trying to take on the special interests in Louisiana, trying to make the case that Louisiana could be a really high-flying state if they could get rid of their income tax," Moore said.
Beyond their attempt to recast Jindal's efforts in a more positive light, Moore and Jarrett continued Fox's pattern of misrepresenting the relationship between state income taxes and growth. Fox had previously ignored the regressive nature of Jindal's plan, and the April 10 segment featured the false claim that eliminating income taxes boosts state economic growth. Media Matters has previously shown Moore's work on that subject to be dishonest, and as the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has shown, cuts in state income taxes are correlated with weaker economic growth except in oil-rich states. Furthermore, the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy reported in February that the nine states with no income tax have shown substantially weaker economic growth than those with high income taxes.
*A review of transcripts found that no Fox News Channel shows covered the Louisiana governor's speech from April 8. Fox Business's Stuart Varney interviewed Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform about Jindal's reversal on the April 9 edition of Varney & Co.
Fox News deceptively edited a clip of Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to make it seem as though she had not anticipated how complex implementation of President Obama's health care law would be when, in fact, Sebelius was pointing to the problems created by relentless political opposition to the bill.
On America's Newsroom, guest host Gregg Jarrett played a portion of Sebelius' appearance at the Harvard School of Public Health. Jarrett introduced the clip by claiming Sebelius "admitted there's been a lot of confusion associated with the rollout." Jarrett then played a portion of the clip in which Sebelius said, "There was some hope that once the Supreme Court ruled in July, and then once an election occurred, there would be a sense of, 'this is the law of the land, let's get on board, let's make this work,' and yet we find ourselves still having sort of state-by-state political battles."
After the clip, Jarrett responded by saying, "She underestimated its complexity. Well, my goodness, the law is 2,700 pages long with more than 15,000 pages of [regulations]. What does she expect?"
But Jarrett's interpretation of Sebelius' appearance is based on deceptive editing. Sebelius wasn't complaining about the bill's length or complexity -- she was explaining that political opposition to the law has made implementation more difficult. Fox began the clip after Sebelius pointed out that "politics has been relentless and continuous." In the portion after Fox's edited verision (comments begin around 13:30), Sebelius went on to explain that states which have expressed consistent opposition to the law make it more difficult to implement the law and explain benefits to health care consumers. In Sebelius' comments below, the portion aired by Fox is in bold: