PBS' Frontline recently aired a documentary titled "Climate of Doubt," examining how conservative groups, frequently funded by the fossil fuel industry, have pushed Republicans to reject the scientific consensus on manmade global warming. Here, Media Matters looks back at how Fox News has contributed to that "Climate of Doubt," often teaming up with industry to misrepresent science and attack all efforts to address this threat.
As details about the tragic shooting in Arizona came to light, members of the right-wing media quickly used the fact that Hitler's Mein Kampf was listed as one of Jared Loughner's favorite books as evidence that his politics are "left wing." This characterization coincides with years of effort by Fox News personalities to tie the fascist Nazi regime of Adolf Hitler to progressivism.
While the tragic shooting at a public event for Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) was done by a mentally unstable individual, and while there is no apparent connection to any political party, the current political rhetoric has reached an unacceptable level. Media Matters revisits instances in which conservative media figures ignored or minimized security threats against Nancy Pelosi in order to attack her for using a military aircraft. In fact, the Department of Defense provided the plane as a security measure after the 9-11 attacks -- a measure that was also provided to former GOP Speaker Dennis Hastert.
Right-wing media have frequently cited Bjorn Lomborg to downplay the danger of global warming. In his forthcoming book, Lomborg will reportedly declare global warming a "chief concern facing the world today" and recommend spending $100 billion annually on clean energy technology financed by a global carbon emissions tax.
Conservative media have claimed the White House's controversial conversations with Rep. Joe Sestak and Andrew Romanoff -- which have been described by experts as "garden-variety politics" -- constituted criminal activity. But when Bush administration official Scooter Libby was investigated, tried, and convicted, conservative media decried it as "criminalizing politics."
Conservatives in the media have recently criticized congressional Democrats, Jimmy Carter, Maureen Dowd, and others for suggesting that attacks on President Obama are racially motivated, saying, for example, that it's a "disgusting smear," "a sign of desperation," and " despicable tactics." However, conservative media figures -- including some who are now decrying the accusations -- have themselves used charges of racism when discussing Obama and his policies.
Fox News' Sean Hannity falsely claimed that President-elect Barack Obama's economic plan gives money to "people that don't pay any taxes," echoing the oft-repeated myth from the presidential campaign that Obama's proposed tax cuts would go to people who don't pay taxes. In fact, Obama has proposed giving the tax credit to "working families," which means they do pay Social Security and Medicare taxes.
In criticizing the appointment of Leon Panetta as CIA director, Sean Hannity asserted that Panetta "wrote a piece back in August for Washington Monthly, 'No Torture. No Exceptions,' said we cannot and must not use torture under any circumstances." Hannity falsely suggested that Panetta's article was a lone commentary when, in fact, it was part of a series of essays written by critics of the Bush administration's "enhanced interrogation techniques" from across the political spectrum, including prominent Republicans.
On Hannity & Colmes, referring to the Minnesota Senate election, Dick Morris baselessly claimed that Al Franken and the Democrats are "stealing it right in front of our eyes" and asserted that both disputed ballots and their duplicates were counted, resulting in votes being counted "twice." Morris and Sean Hannity echoed claims in a Wall Street Journal editorial that alleged double counting of duplicate ballots during the recount. But the Journal simply asserted that there was double counting, echoing an accusation by Norm Coleman's campaign.
On Hannity & Colmes, Ann Coulter defended a statement in her new book, Guilty: Liberal "Victims" and Their Assault on America -- that children whose parents divorce are "future strippers" -- as "something that needs to be said," later saying of her book's contention that the children of divorces would become strippers: "Yes, and they will be, and that is a fact." Coulter also referred to single motherhood as "a recipe to create criminals, strippers, rapists, murderers."
On Hannity & Colmes, Newt Gingrich falsely asserted that following 9-11, Dennis Hastert "did not get a private plane," adding that "[t]here's no reason for anyone but the president and vice president of the United States to have that level of security." In fact, at the time, the House sergeant-at-arms, the Defense Department, and the White House agreed that military planes should be made available to the speaker of the House for national security reasons, and Hastert was the first speaker to use one.
On Hannity & Colmes, Sean Hannity suggested that President-elect Barack Obama -- the first African-American elected president -- was named Time magazine's Person of the Year because Vice President-elect Joe Biden chose Time's Jay Carney as his communications director. Hannity stated: "Shocker: The president-elect is crowned Time magazine's Person of the Year; this after Time magazine's D.C. bureau chief accepts a job in the Obama White House. Ah, I'm sure it's a coincidence."
On Hannity & Colmes, discussing reports that "Senate Candidate 5" in the criminal complaint against Gov. Rob Blagojevich is a reference to Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., Sean Hannity asserted that Jackson "gave an emotional -- and he gave a very passionate defense of his conduct here" and that "he came off as very credible and believable to me." Hannity added, "[B]ut there's always a skeptical side of me. You know, in the back of my mind I hear that voice, 'I did not have sex.' You know, I hear Bill Clinton."
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On Hannity & Colmes, Hannity asserted that President-elect Barack Obama is "all over" the criminal complaint against Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, adding, "The pres -- the word 'president-elect' is mentioned 44 times in the document. Pretty troubling." However, nowhere in the complaint was a single allegation against Obama made. Further, U.S. attorney Patrick Fitzgerald stated during a December 9 press conference that the criminal complaint "makes no allegations about the president-elect whatsoever -- his conduct."
Disregarding U.S. attorney Patrick Fitzgerald's warning to "not cast aspersions on people for being named or being discussed" in the criminal complaint against Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, several in the media have used the scandal as an opportunity to engage in suggestions of guilt-by-association against President-elect Barack Obama, by rehashing Obama's purportedly "questionable associations," or suggesting that Obama is a product of corrupt "Chicago politics."