Guy Benson

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  • The Right-Wing Media Figures Who Did Not Like Donald Trump’s Foreign Policy Speech At All

    ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ & CYDNEY HARGIS

    As Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump delivered what was billed as a “major foreign policy speech,” conservative media personalities attacked him on Twitter, calling the speech a “sickening display of revisionism,” asking if the candidate was “medicated” while giving the address, and declaring that “this is why we’ll need a third” party candidate.

  • The Media's Outrage At Trump's Abortion Comments Ignore That Women Are Already Being Punished

    Blog ››› ››› RACHEL LARRIS

    Trump MSNBC Town HallGOP Presidential candidate Donald Trump's statement that "there has to be some form of punishment" for women who have abortions led to widespread condemnation from mainstream and conservative media alike, but the media has ignored that many women already face punishment in many states due to the lack of access to reproductive care.

    Trump was pressed by Matthews during a town hall on March 30 about whether he believed a "woman be punished for having an abortion?" Trump responded, arguing that "there has to be some form of punishment" for women who get an abortion.

    Right wing media figures expressed immediate displeasure with Trump's initial remarks calling them "awful," "tone deaf," and "ignorant."

    Trump attempted to walk back his remarks the same day, issuing a statement that said the punishment for abortions should be restricted to "the doctor or any other person performing this illegal act ... not the woman" (emphasis original):

    DONALD J. TRUMP STATEMENT REGARDING ABORTION

    If Congress were to pass legislation making abortion illegal and the federal courts upheld this legislation, or any state were permitted to ban abortion under state and federal law, the doctor or any other person performing this illegal act upon a woman would be held legally responsible, not the woman. The woman is a victim in this case as is the life in her womb. My position has not changed - like Ronald Reagan, I am pro-life with exceptions.

    Trump's statement ignores that when abortion is illegal or when a legal abortion is out of reach for women, some will go to desperate lengths to terminate a pregnancy and some states have already punished women for it.

    According to MSNBC's Irin Carmon "women are already being prosecuted and even convicted on suspicion of having abortions." Carmon noted that an Indiana woman "is appealing a 30-year prison sentence for her conviction for feticide" because she allegedly "ordered abortion pills online."

    A New York Times article examined the case of Pennsylvania's Jennifer Whalen, who was jailed in 2014 for ordering medication for her 16-year-old daughter because the nearest abortion providerwas 75-miles away. The state required a 24-hour waiting period between the first counseling visit and the procedure -- which meant Whalen and her daughter would have to take two trips or stay overnight with the family's only car, which Whalen and her husband both used to get to work.

    Whalen and Patel are not the only women who have faced punishment for their attempts to terminate a pregnancy. In 2011 Idaho authorities arrested Jennie Linn McCormack for inducing an abortion, a crime that could have carried a penalty of up to five years in prison. The charges were later dropped for a lack of evidence and McCormack's case actually led to Idaho's self-induced abortion statute being ruled unconstitutional. And in December 2015, Tennessee charged Anna Yocca for her attempt to induce a self-abortion with a wire coat hanger.

    In a statement to Media Matters, the Guttmacher Institute's Senior State Issues Associate Elizabeth Nash explained that, seven states currently ban all or some self-induced abortions. Delaware, Nevada, South Carolina, and Utah prohibit all self-induced abortions while Kentucky, New York, and Oklahoma permit self-induced abortions under very limited circumstances.

    While the GOP and right-wing media may want to spout rhetoric that "punishment" is not their goal in seeking to end legal access to abortion, the truth is that women are already being punished for being unable to cross the many barriers to abortion access already passed by conservative states.

  • "Nuclear Bombshell": Right-Wing Media Hype Old, Disputed Claim That Clinton's Emails Mentioned Classified Information

    Politico And NBCNews.com Explain Emails Referenced "Innocuous" Accounts Of U.S. Drone Program "Not Obtained Through A Classified Product" - A Revelation From Last Summer

    ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN

    Right-wing media are hyping a letter from the intelligence community's inspector general claiming some of Hillary Clinton's emails from her time as secretary of state contained information classified above "top secret." However, the development that Clinton's emails reportedly mention widely-known public information about the country's drone operation was already covered by the media in 2015.

  • Study Shows How Obamacare Empowers Workers, Right-Wing Media Claim It Proves Their Conspiracy

    Right-Wing Media Falsely Claim Obamacare Will Shrink Job Market

    ››› ››› CRAIG HARRINGTON & ALEX MORASH

    For two consecutive years, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has published an estimate of how many workers will choose to leave the workforce or reduce their work hours as a result of certain protections and subsidies created by the Affordable Care Act (ACA). As was the case last year, conservative media has incorrectly reported that the CBO was projecting potential job losses stemming from Obamacare.

  • The Koch Brothers Are Using Fox News Employees As Campaigners

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

    At least 15 Fox News hosts and contributors have recently campaigned with two political organizations created and heavily funded by billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch. Many of those same Fox News personalities have also defended the Kochs from attacks and praised their political efforts on-air.  

    The controversial conservative brothers founded the 501(c)(4) group Americans for Prosperity (AFP) and its 501(c)(3) sister group the Americans for Prosperity Foundation (AFPF) in 2004. David Koch has called AFP the group he feels "most closely attached to and most proud of" and chairs AFPF's board. (The Washington Post notes of the IRS code distinction: "A 501(c)(4) is allowed to do considerably more issue advocacy work than a 501(C)(3), however. Neither group has to disclose the identity of its donors or the amounts of money those contributors have given.")

    Politico's Ken Vogel reported that AFP "intends to spend more than $125 million this year on an aggressive ground, air and data operation benefiting conservatives, according to a memo distributed to major donors and sources familiar with the group." The Washington Post wrote that with a paid staff of 240, split between 32 states, AFP "may be America's third-biggest political party." In 2012, "More than $44 million of the $140 million the organization raised in that election cycle came from Koch-linked feeder funds."

    AFP and AFPF are part of a massive $400 million network of political groups spearheaded by the Kochs. The Huffington Post's Paul Blumenthal noted, "It is the electoral focus of the Koch nonprofits and their sophisticated efforts to shield donors' identities -- plus the vast sums of money they move -- that has brought them the unwanted attention of both Democratic Senate leadership and reporters. There exists no outside network or organization supporting Democratic Party candidates in elections, while not disclosing its donors, that spends money in comparable amounts."

    AFP states that it "mobilizes citizens to effectively make their voices heard in public policy issue campaigns" and "educates citizens about where their elected officials stand on our issues." AFP campaigns have included false attacks about health care reformclean energyeconomic issues, and elected Democrats like President Obama.

    Fox News personalities are the public face of many AFP/AFPF events. Promotional materials heavily tout the speakers' affiliation with Fox News to increase attendance. According to a Media Matters review, the following Fox News personalities have participated in AFP and AFPF events since 2012: Guy Benson, Tucker Carlson, Monica Crowley, Jonah Goldberg, Greg Gutfeld, Mary Katharine Ham, Mike Huckabee, Laura Ingraham, Andrew Napolitano, Sarah Palin, Charles Payne, Dana Perino, John Stossel, Cal Thomas, and Juan Williams.

    The Koch/Fox News events are aimed at rallying attendees to support conservative causes and fight progressive initiatives. For example, an invitation for a May event featuring Tucker Carlson stated the rally will "send a message to the Left that we know the truth and support free market solutions." Information for a November 2013 rally with Monica Crowley said participants will "learn how you can fight back against government restrictions, taxes, and out-of-control spending." And an October 2012 event with John Stossel was a "Hands Off My Health Care Rally" which sought "to fully repeal Obama's deeply flawed health care bill."  

    Media Matters previously documented how numerous Fox News personalities campaigned for Republican candidates and organizations during the 2011-2012 election cycle.

  • Fox's Dangerous Advice To Millennials: Opt Out Of Health Insurance Until You Get Into An Accident

    Blog ››› ››› EMILY ARROWOOD

    Fox News proposed that uninsured young adults should reject coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) because they can gain it at any point after an accident to cover medical expenses -- irresponsible advice that could wreak havoc on millennials' financial futures.

    Gretchen Carlson hosted Fox contributor Guy Benson on the October 11 edition of her new daytime program The Real Story with Gretchen Carlson to discuss whether young adults will sign up for health coverage on the exchanges. The two repeatedly suggested that "healthy" millennials may pay for coverage "they are not going to need," going so far as to suggest it would be more fiscally responsible for young adults to go uninsured until a major trauma occurs:  

    BENSON: If they say, 'forget it I'm going to wait, pay the relatively cheap tax and then if I get sick and if I get into an accident, then the insurers have to take me because I have a pre-existing condition,' it just makes more sense to do that --

    CARLSON: You just brought it full circle for us.

    BENSON: -- from a dollars and cents perspective. I'm not trying to make a political point there, I'm trying to make an economic point. And a lot of people are realizing that.

    Benson's advice is not only wrong, it's dangerous.

    While insurers are required to cover people with pre-existing health conditions under the ACA, coverage isn't available all the time. Those seeking insurance through the exchanges can sign up only during the open enrollment period, which starting next year will run from approximately October 15 -- December 7 annually. Exceptions are made for qualifying life events like marriage or birth of child -- not for sudden illnesses or accidents.

    Young adults who opt out of coverage will be responsible for the full costs of these events. And when the average hospital stay or treatment for a broken leg is approximately $10,000 without insurance, footing the bill would likely be unaffordable.

    It's not just Fox doling out this irresponsible advice to millennials -- conservative activist groups with ties to the billionaire Koch brothers have been running ads to scare young adults away from gaining coverage. At the same time, Fox has actively avoided acknowledging that many young adults are in fact eager to buy health insurance under new ACA provisions.

  • Conservatives Made It Up: Harry Reid Didn't Dismiss Funding Treatment For Children With Cancer

    Blog ››› ››› OLIVER WILLIS

    Conservative media are selectively and deceptively quoting from an exchange between CNN's Dana Bash Senate and Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) to make it appear as if he dismissed the plight of cancer-stricken children being denied access to clinical trials due to the shutdown of the federal government. In fact, Reid said that legislators should fully fund the government, rather than force different groups to fight over funding.

    Specifically, conservatives are claiming that Reid replied to a reporter's question, "If you can help one child with cancer, why wouldn't you?"  by saying "why would we want to do that?" In fact, Reid was responding to Sen. Chuck Schumer, who had interjected, saying "why pit one against the other?"

    On October 1, the federal government was shut down after conservative Republicans refused to pass legislation funding operations unless that funding was tied to the defunding or delay of Obamacare. As part of an effort to avoid political damage from that unpopular decision, House Republicans have called for piecemeal bills that would fund some parts of the federal government, including the National Institutes of Health and national parks.

  • Cheryl Mills' (Non) Threatening Phone Call

    Blog ››› ››› SIMON MALOY

    Eugene Robinson's Friday Washington Post column that throws buckets of cold water on the Benghazi "cover-up" is well worth a read, but it touches only briefly on one aspect of the Benghazi story that emerged this week that merits further exploration: the degree to which "whistleblower" Gregory Hicks was "muzzled."

    Since testifying at the House Oversight Committee hearing on May 8, a media narrative has emerged that Hicks, after speaking to Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) in Libya following the attacks, faced intimidation at the hands of the State Department, beginning with a phone call from Cheryl Mills, the chief of staff to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Depending on which conservative media figure is talking, Mills is said to have "excoriated," "reprimanded," "punished," and even "demoted" Hicks right then and there. Going by Hicks' own testimony, none of that is true.

    To recap: following the attacks on the U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Rep. Chaffetz traveled to Libya to interview witnesses and survivors. Hicks, who had become chief of mission following the death of Ambassador Chris Stevens, was one of the people Chaffetz sought to interview. Right-wingers like Guy Benson, writing at Townhall.com, have alleged "US Ambassador Chris Stevens' second in command, Gregory Hicks, was instructed not to speak with a Congressional investigator by Sec. Hillary Clinton's chief of staff, Cheryl Mills."

    This is not true. Hicks testified that the State Department had instructed him not to speak to Chaffetz without a State attorney present -- a condition Hicks says was unusual, but which the State Department says is standard procedure. In any event, Hicks ended up speaking to Chaffetz without the attorney present because, according to his testimony, the lawyer lacked the proper security clearance. Also, Hicks testified that he spoke with Mills only after speaking with Chaffetz. 

  • Fox Hypes Romney's Misleading Average Tax Rate Claim

    Blog ››› ››› JUSTIN BERRIER

    Fox News host Neil Cavuto and his guest hyped Mitt Romney's claim that he "paid [a] 20 percent effective tax rate" based on the release of some of his tax information last week. But the rate released by Romney is a misleading calculation which tax experts have noted can "distort the rate you've paid."

    On Your World, host Neil Cavuto and Townhall.com political editor Guy Benson promoted the summary released by the Romney campaign claiming that Romney has paid an average effective tax rate of 20.2 percent over the past 20 years. Benson claimed Romney's tax summary "totally blows up a bunch of Obama ads that said, 'Look, Mitt Romney pays lower tax rates than you do.' Actually, the effective tax rate he's been paying over the last 20 years is almost double that."

    But Benson and Cavuto failed to note that the rate released by Romney is a simple average -- or the average of all the tax rates he has paid over that 20-year period -- and not a weighted average, which calculates the rate based on the total amount he paid and his total income over that time.

    The distinction is significant, as the simple average released by Romney can be misleading. Following the release, The Washington Post's Greg Sargent pointed out that the way the Romney campaign calculated the tax rate "obscures the fact that income may have fluctuated quite markedly from year to year." Sargent quoted Tax Policy Center senior fellow Roberton Williams, who explained why the simple average is misleading:

    "Let's say you have 10 years in which you paid 13 percent in taxes, and 10 years in which you paid 27 percent," Williams told me. "If you average those rates, you'll get an overall rate of 20 percent. But if the 13 percent years were high income years, and the 27 percent years were low income years, then his total taxes paid as a share of total income over the 20 years would be less, perhaps significantly less, than 20 percent.

    [...]

    "You can be a person like Romney and have a highly fluctuating income year to year," Williams said. "Some years Romney's income could be much lower than in other years. When you average just the rates, you can distort the rate you've paid relative to your income over the whole period."

    During a live analysis of Romney's release, The Wall Street Journal's Liam Denning pointed out that a "weighted average would give a more accurate picture," but "that is a step Mr. Romney has said he won't take":

    We checked with the Romney campaign and the 20-year tax-rate average is a simple one (i.e., the average of the percentage in each year) rather than a weighted one (i.e., where you add up all the tax paid across the 20 years and divide it by all the income).

    It's a potentially important difference because the simple average treats each year equally -- whether Romney earned, say, $5 million in that year or $30 million. It is especially important if Romney paid a low tax rate in a year in which he earned a lot but paid a high tax rate in years when he earned less. The weighted average would give a more accurate picture.

    Of course, releasing the actual underlying year-by-year data would clear up any confusion -- but that is a step Mr. Romney has said he won't take.