Fox News was quick to criticize President Obama for emphasizing how climate change is a core threat to national security, arguing the president should have focused instead on foreign terrorist organizations during his Coast Guard Academy commencement speech. In fact, the Coast Guard will be at the forefront of the nation's response to the significant challenges afoot due to the earth's changing climate.
Obama spoke at length about the national security threats presented by climate change during his May 20 commencement address at the United States Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut. The president highlighted how "climate change increases the risk of instability and conflict" around the world, citing severe droughts in the Middle East and North Africa that have contributed to the rise of extremist groups, rising sea levels and increasingly powerful storms sparking humanitarian crises, and the impact of Arctic sea ice reduction on international maritime rivalries.
Fox News roundly mocked the address, charging that Obama "seems to have utterly lost his way" on national security issues. Others disapproved of the Coast Guard Academy as the setting for his climate remarks, suggesting it reflected poorly on Obama's priorities and management of the resources of the U.S. military.
But the Coast Guard is perhaps the most appropriate of the five armed service branches to focus future planning efforts on combating the effects of a changing climate. As the president stated, "the threat of a changing climate cuts to the very core" of the Coast Guard's mission.
The breakup of Arctic sea ice presents new challenges for the Coast Guard. Shortly before retiring from the service, Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Robert Papp discussed how climate change affects the Coast Guard's mission in an interview with Defense News:
Part of our maritime governance is to make sure that ships and cargo get safely in and out of our ports. So if the water rises, how does that affect our aid navigation system? How does that affect dredging with the Army Corps of Engineers? These are marine safety type issues.
In July 2014, Papp was appointed as U.S. Special Representative for the Arctic Region for the express purpose of advising American strategy with regard to climate change in the world's northern oceans.
Sea level rise, another direct result of climate change, is occurring faster than previously predicted and threatens low-lying areas of the United States and neighboring countries. According to the United Nations, sea level rise could be up to four times more pronounced in island nations, many of which dot the Caribbean Sea and are likely destinations for Coast Guard humanitarian relief operations.
Climate change exacerbates the impact of extreme weather events and has been shown to supercharge hurricane systems that target the Atlantic seaboard and Gulf coast every year. When these storms destroy communities and threaten American lives, the Coast Guard is among the first responders on-scene to rescue and care for stranded victims. The Coast Guard's "dangerous and exhausting" rescue missions proved to be a lonely silver lining during the Bush administration's botched response to Hurricane Katrina.
Despite Fox News' protests, the Coast Guard is "on the front lines of climate change and national security."
Fox News selectively quoted a statement from Hillary Clinton's lawyer to suggest that she lied about having a "second email account" during her time as secretary of state. But the network ignored in several segments that the supposed discrepancy was explained months ago.
On May 18, The New York Times published selected emails from Clinton's time at State, which appeared to show her sending emails from two private addresses: HDR22@clintonemail.com and email@example.com. Right-wing media immediately jumped on the story to claim that it contradicted Clinton's previous statement that she only used one email address while at State.
Fox went so far as to suggest Clinton "was lying" about her use of email, missing key context in several of their segments on the topic. On the May 19 edition of America's Newsroom, guest co-host Gregg Jarrett asked: "Either she forgot, or she was lying. What do you think?" Fox reporter Doug McKelway also claimed that the "second email" was a "direct contradiction" to Clinton's previous statements, noting those remarks were "not made in testimony, nor was it made under oath, so perhaps there's some wiggle room there, but I'm not sure how she gets out of that."
Later on Happening Now, McKelway highlighted a letter sent from Clinton's lawyer that stated "firstname.lastname@example.org is not an address that existed during Secretary Clinton's tenure as Secretary of State."
However, this seeming discrepancy was explained in the same letter McKelway selectively quoted from.
As Clinton's lawyer noted back in that March 2015 letter -- and which Fox News ignored in these segments -- Clinton changed her email address when she left State because Gawker had published emails that revealed the "HDR22" address. That was when she changed the address to "hrod17."
According to her office, when this change occurred, the new address replaced the old address on the digital records of her previous emails. Thus, as explained in a release several months ago, when her emails were printed out and provided to the State Department, the new email address "appeared on the printed copies as the sender."
While this context was missing from Jarrett and McKelway's morning reports, Fox Chief White House Correspondent Ed Henry reported the Clinton campaign's explanation in a separate segment on America's Newsroom, saying that "when she printed out all the emails to turn over back to the government, that second account came up, even though that was not the one she was using months earlier."
The old "HDR22" address still appears in some of the documents the Times highlighted, but seems to only occur in the text of the body of emails that were replies or forwards from other individuals. For example, a printed email from Clinton aide Jake Sullivan which was published by the Times still shows "HDR22" in the text of his email, because he was replying to her original message.
The backdating of the email addresses "led to understandable confusion" for the congressional Select Committee on Benghazi earlier this year, prompting Clinton's office to issue this explanation in March.
The original Gawker report, which highlighted emails sent to Clinton during her time at State, also includes screenshots of those emails. The emails shown are all clearly sent to Clinton's original email account, HRD22, in keeping with Clinton office's explanation for the email address confusion.
From the May 19 edition of Fox News' Happening Now:
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Fox News se ha destacado esta semana con ejemplos de cómo no debería cubrirse un caso de disturbios urbanos. La cobertura de Fox News de las protestas en Baltimore desencadenadas por la muerte de Freddie Gray mientras se encontraba bajo custodia de la policía, han resaltado por sus rasgos de prejuicio racial, negación de la realidad, y aspectos de doble victimización. Media Matters destacó diferentes instancias en las que la cadena Fox News falló al reportar sobre esta noticia:
Descartando el rol que la brutalidad policial ha jugado en desencadenar las protestas, Fox News decidió culpar un rango de factores que incluyeron desde la "negligencia parental" hasta la "cultura del hip hop". En el programa Happening Now, el analista Juan Williams contestó a la pregunta de qué había ocasionado los disturbios diciendo:
WILLIAMS: Lo que tenemos aquí es una situación donde, yo creo, tienes gente pobre, que sienten que han sido agraviados -- una situación difícil a lo largo de nuestro país en lo que respecta a cómo la policía trata con la disfuncionalidad existente en este vecindario, pero tratan con ella en todas las comunidades de Estados Unidos. Estamos pidiéndole a nuestros policías a que entren y traten con personas que son extremadamente violentas, desorganizadas, con familias en caos, y le decimos a la policía, ustedes son nuestras líneas al frente. Y cuando la policía falla en el manejo de la situación, decimos, es una cuestión de brutalidad policial. Creo que es una cuestión de que la sociedad, a menudo, le pide a la policía que haga cosas para las que no están entrenados.
Lo anterior ignora la marcada historia de brutalidad policial reinante en Baltimore, tal y como ha sido reportada por el periódico Baltimore Sun.
Como si la muerte de la víctima a manos de la policía fuera justificable, el colaborador de Fox News Bo Dietl fue más allá en el programa Fox & Friends al especular -- sin ningún fundamento -- que Freddie Gray se encontraba bajo los efectos de drogas.
Tres figuras de Fox News aprovecharon la coyuntura para sugerir en el programa Special Report with Bret Baier que la política pública de la "opción escolar" -- que implica la entrega de cupones a las familias para que escojan matricular a sus hijos entre escuelas privadas o públicas -- era una solución apropiada a las protestas de Baltimore, de las que culparon a las escuelas. Calificaron al sistema escolar de "horrible" y de ser "el peor de la tierra", ignorando datos que demuestran que los alumnos del sistema público de Baltimore han avanzado significativamente en su desempeño en los últimos años:
El presentador Larry Wilmore, del programa de Comedy Central The Nightly Show, señaló a Fox News por hacer uso de estereotipos raciales para cubrir las protestas de Baltimore. Como ejemplo, Wilmore señaló varias comparaciones que Fox hizo de que la apariencia de las protestas era propia del "tercer mundo":
"What is the cause of this unrest" in Baltimore?
Fox News' attempt to tackle this question dismissed the role that anger over police brutality played in sparking the protests and riots that broke out following the funeral of Freddie Gray -- a black man who died of severe, unexplained spinal cord injuries obtained while in police custody. Instead, the network blamed the unrest on "parental neglect" and "hip hop culture," among other factors.
The April 28 edition of Fox News' Happening Now highlighted growing violence in Baltimore, and host Jon Scott asked network political analyst Juan Williams for his thoughts on what sparked the unrest: "Is there any one cause? Is it a collaboration of poverty and parental neglect?"
Williams blamed "family breakdown" as the "core part" of the Baltimore protests, adding that high unemployment, drug culture, and "dysfunctional behavior" also contributed. Some mistakenly blame frustration over police brutality for the unrest, Williams suggested, arguing that in fact the problem is a society "asking police to do things they're not trained to do":
WILLIAMS: What you have here is a situation where, I think, you have poor people, who feel that they have a grievance -- a difficult situation across our country in terms of how police deal with the dysfunction that is in this neighborhood, but deal with it in every community in America. We are asking our police to go in and to deal with people who are extremely violent, disorganized, families in chaos, and say to the police, you're our front lines. And when the police fail in handling the situation, then we say, it's a matter of police brutality. I think it's a matter of society, often times, asking police to do things they're not trained to do.
Baltimore, of course, has a marked history of police brutality -- As The Baltimore Sun documented in a searing 2014 report:
Over the past four years, more than 100 people have won court judgments or settlements related to allegations of brutality and civil rights violations. Victims include a 15-year-old boy riding a dirt bike, a 26-year-old pregnant accountant who had witnessed a beating, a 50-year-old woman selling church raffle tickets, a 65-year-old church deacon rolling a cigarette and an 87-year-old grandmother aiding her wounded grandson.
Mistrust of cops in Baltimore has been "long-simmering." A similar riot broke out in the city in 1968 after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.. Since then, racial tension and inequity has resulted in "a troubled history between the police force and its residents."
Others like The New York Times trace the "broken relationship" between Baltimore residents and the Baltimore Police Department back to 1980, when the NAACP called for a federal investigation into police brutality. The tensions continued into the past decade "with a crime-fighting strategy known as 'zero-tolerance policing' that led to mass arrests." The Times noted how city leaders have attempted to reform the police department "that has a history of aggressive, sometimes brutal, treatment of black men," a history, "which helps explain the long-simmering anger that boiled over" with the death of Freddie Gray.
Media outlets trumpeted likely Republican presidential candidate Gov. Chris Christie as striving to be "authentic and brave" for proposing harmful cuts to Social Security benefits that would include raising the retirement age.
Speaking in New Hampshire on April 14, the New Jersey governor laid out a series of proposed broad changes to Social Security benefits, including means tests for seniors making $80,000 a year in non-Social Security income and a phase-out of all payments for those making above $200,000. Christie also proposed raising the retirement age at which seniors can receive benefits to 69 and the early retirement age to 64.
Many media outlets characterized Christie as a straight-shooter for his proposal, describing him as attempting to paint himself as a teller of hard truths.
The Wall Street Journal, for example, wrote that Christie had "moved to depict himself as the fiscal truth-teller of the Republican presidential field" with his proposal, calling it "provocative, and risky." A Washington Post opinion piece said Christie was "positioning himself, like other would-be presidents of the past, as the one guy willing to talk straight about the government's unsustainable finances." An NBC News article on the proposal was titled "Chris Christie Sells 'Hard Truths' on Social Security Reform," while a Business Insider headline declared, "Chris Christie's plan to win the White House is to tell people what they don't want to hear." Fortune's Nina Easton claimed on Fox News' Happening Now that Christie's proposal "plays into the narrative that he's authentic and brave and tells it like it is."
Painting Christie as seeking to be seen as a "brave" and "authentic" truth-teller in coverage of his proposed Social Security cuts not only helps the likely GOP candidate spread his desired narrative, but it masks the harmful impact such cuts would have on the poor and middle class.
"Raising the retirement age is terrible for the poor," Vox explained, despite Christie's contention that his plan would only affect the rich. Raising the retirement and early retirement age would effectively constitute "an across-the-board benefit cut of almost 10 percent in Americans' lifetime Social Security benefits." As economist Teresa Ghilarducci told PBS Newshour, "Evidence shows that many older workers are simply not able to work past traditional retirement age without substantial suffering. Reducing their retirement income and throwing them off medical insurance will create a new cohort of impoverished elderly, reversing the tangible gains in reducing old age poverty made since the Great Depression."
What's more, Mother Jones' Kevin Drum noted, cutting benefits for those making over $200,000 is unlikely to save the program much money, given how few recipients earn that much. His estimations are backed up by a 2011 Center for Economic and Policy Research study, which found that 90 percent of Social Security recipients earn less than $50,000 in non-social security income.
Fox News anchor Bret Baier debunked the network's defense of Indiana's discriminatory "religious freedom" law, explaining that the law is broader than both federal law and similar measures in other states.
Last week, Indiana became the center of a political firestorm after the state legislature passed its version of the "Religious Freedom Restoration Act" (RFRA), a law that allows private individuals and for-profit business owners to cite their religious beliefs as a legal defense against claims of discrimination from consumers who have been wrongfully denied services based solely on their sexual orientation or gender identity. As the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana explained, Indiana's RFRA "may embolden individuals and businesses who now feel that their religious liberty is 'burdened' by treating a member of the LGBT community equally and that their 'burden' trumps others' rights to be free from discrimination."
Proponents of the law, including Indiana Republican Gov. Mike Pence, have downplayed these potential consequences by incorrectly claiming that the law is noncontroversial because it merely mirrors the federal RFRA and RFRAs in other states. It's a talking point that has been repeated on Fox News, which has so far depicted Indiana's law as a benign attempt to protect the devout from government encroachment on religious freedom.
But during the March 30 edition of Happening Now, Baier deflated his network's defense of the law, explaining to host Eric Shawn that Indiana's RFRA is "broader" than both federal law and other state RFRAs:
ERIC SHAWN: You know, the law was intended to protect personal religious liberties against government overreach and intrusion. So what happened?
BAIER: Well, Indiana's law is written a little differently. It is more broad. It is different than the federal law that it's close to, but different than, and also different than 19 other states and how the law is written. In specific terms, Indiana's law deals with a person who can claim religious persecution but that includes corporations, for profit entities and it could also be used as a defense in a civil suit that does not involve the government. That is broader than the other laws. This is where it's a little different in Indiana's case. You saw governor Mike Pence try to defend the law and say it's just like the 1993 federal law where it's just like 19 other states, but as you look in the fine print, it's not really, and it may be something that Indiana deals with in specifics to line up with the others.
SHAWN: Obviously, it had good intentions. What do you think happened to make it kind of go off the rails this way?
BAIER: Well, how it was structured, Eric. And I think that, you know, there may be good intentions behind it but how it's being interpreted is being a little bit more forward leaning than any other Religious Freedom Restoration Act on the books. What this does politically, obviously Mike Pence has been talked about as a governor thinking about a 2016 run. We don't know if he's going to do it or not. But that interview with Stephanopoulos over the weekend was obviously not a great back and forth in defense of this law that likely is going to have to be at least tweaked, if not changed. [emphasis added]
Fox News regular Marc Morano is worried that Google is going to start burying his climate change denial website, Climate Depot, which is full of toxic inaccuracies and could therefore be vulnerable to Google's plan to rank websites based on their truthfulness.
A Google research team has developed a system to more thoroughly judge the accuracy of a web page's information. The team's new research paper describing the metric states that a source would be considered "trustworthy" based on "the correctness of factual information provided by the source." Though the system and its algorithm are still in development, the researchers have claimed that it shows "promise in evaluating web source quality."
Morano's concern over the new search algorithm is understandable, given that his climate denial website, Climate Depot, would likely be buried in searches using the new accuracy-based system.
The recent documentary Merchants of Doubt highlighted how Morano has used his media appearances and his website -- which he is paid to run by a fossil fuel industry-funded organization -- to cast doubt on the scientific consensus on climate change.
The March 6 edition of Fox News' Happening Now featured Morano expressing his concern over the new search metric:
After a massive oil tanker derailed in West Virginia, several members of Fox News claimed that the accident demonstrates the need to build the Keystone XL pipeline because it is supposedly "safer" to transport oil by pipeline than by train. However, pipelines spill even more oil than trains, and when a major pipeline spill recently occurred near Keystone XL's proposed route, Fox News barely mentioned the spill and didn't once connect it to legitimate safety concerns about Keystone XL.
Fox News is burying Republican policy positions that exacerbate income inequality in order to help the GOP rebrand itself as a party for the middle class. This effort follows years of Fox figures blasting Democratic policies designed to alleviate income inequality as "class warfare."
Ahead of President Obama's sixth State of the Union address, Fox News speculated that the president will boast about the nation's improving economy as a way to distract Americans from global unrest. However, pundits on the same network - even the same show - have repeatedly accused Obama of ignoring the economy and distracting voters with topics like national security and the minimum wage.
On the January 20 edition of Happening Now, Fox's White House correspondent Ed Henry reported that Obama would focus a large part of his 2015 State of the Union speech on the rebounding U.S. economy, which has recently logged strong jobs growth and improving public sentiment. But Henry suggested the real reason behind Obama's optimistic economic note is to distract voters from upheaval overseas, especially in Yemen:
HENRY: Remember, it was only a few months ago that the president and his aides were holding up Yemen as a success story on his counter-terror efforts. That has fallen apart, as has the president's claim that al-Qaeda is on the run, so they want to talk a lot more about the economy. Not so much on national security.
In contrast, Fox hosts previously accused the Obama administration of using foreign policy and national security to distract from issues like the economy. In May 2011, just days after the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden, Fox & Friends host Brian Kilmeade asked Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-FL) "when do we start talking about the economy again?" Personalities on the network also dismissed a historic deal with Iran to limit its nuclear capabilities as a distraction from problems with the Affordable Care Act.
Conservative media figures have also accused Obama of distracting voters from the economy by supporting a minimum wage hike and intervening in the Syrian Islamic State crisis. On Fox's Outnumbered, panelist Dr. Keith Ablow theorized that even the World Cup mania was a distraction concocted to help Obama.
Right-wing media rushed to exploit the deadly attack on the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris. But this is just the latest in right-wing media's long history of politicizing tragedy to push political objectives.
Fox News reported on Pope Francis' upcoming action on climate change by promoting climate change denial and suggesting that the pope is aligning with "extremists who favor widespread population control and wealth redistribution."
While many Catholics praised Pope Francis' recent announcement that he will publish an encyclical -- a papal letter sent to all the bishops in the Catholic Church -- on climate change, Fox News responded by stoking fears and promoting climate change denial. Fox News correspondent Doug McKelway reported on the December 30 edition of Special Report that the move will be "aligning [Pope Francis] with some church enemies," including "a few environmental extremists who favor widespread population control and wealth redistribution." The segment also featured climate "skeptic" Marc Morano -- who is paid by an industry-funded group to run the climate change-denying website ClimateDepot.com -- to falsely claim that there has been "no global warming" for "almost two decades":
But acting on climate change already has widespread support among Catholics. The pope's move comes after senior bishops from around the globe called on the world's governments to phase out fossil fuels completely in order to "protect frontline communities suffering from the impacts of climate change." Christian leaders have been promoting climate action for many years, citing its disproportionate impacts on the poor as a main concern. In 2006, the Evangelical Climate Initiative urged members of the church to act on climate change because it "hit[s] the poor the hardest":
Poor nations and poor individuals have fewer resources available to cope with major challenges and threats. The consequences of global warming will therefore hit the poor the hardest, in part because those areas likely to be significantly affected first are in the poorest regions of the world. Millions of people could die in this century because of climate change, most of them our poorest global neighbors.
Christians must care about climate change because we are called to love our neighbors, to do unto others as we would have them do unto us, and to protect and care for the least of these as though each was Jesus Christ himself (Mt. 22:34-40; Mt. 7:12; Mt. 25:31-46).
Christians, noting the fact that most of the climate change problem is human induced, are reminded that when God made humanity he commissioned us to exercise stewardship over the earth and its creatures. Climate change is the latest evidence of our failure to exercise proper stewardship, and constitutes a critical opportunity for us to do better (Gen. 1:26-28).
Conservative media are praising Pennsylvania's fracking industry in order to criticize New York's recently announced ban on hydraulic fracturing, without mentioning the health impacts that it has had on Pennsylvania's drinking water and communities.
On December 17, New York became the first state in the country to officially ban the controversial process of hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking." The announcement by Governor Andrew Cuomo's administration came alongside a long-awaited health study on fracking in New York state, which found "significant public health risks" associated with the process. Cuomo officials also stated that allowing fracking would bring "far lower" economic benefits to the state "than originally forecast."
In response, conservative media have been holding up the economy in Pennsylvania -- where fracking has been in practice for decades -- to question the Cuomo administration's decision. Both the Wall Street Journal and the Daily Caller touted statistics from the American Petroleum Institute, which claimed Wednesday that Pennsylvania's fracking industry has generated $2.1 billion in state taxes that have allegedly supported new roads, bridges, and parks. And on the December 17 edition of Fox News' Happening Now, correspondent Eric Shawn reported, "[Fracking] has been allowed in Pennsylvania and helped that state's troubled economy enormously." Co-host Heather Nauert agreed, lamenting, "When you go upstate in New York you see just how badly the jobs are needed up there":
But Pennsylvania may actually be more of a testament to why New York's health concerns surrounding fracking are warranted. Oil and gas operations have damaged Pennsylvania's water supply over 200 times since 2007, according to an investigation by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and a recent report from the Government Accountability Office found that the state's drinking water is at risk from poor wastewater disposal practices. One Pennsylvania town, Dimock, has been dubbed "Ground Zero" in the battle over fracking's safety by NPR. The town has seen particularly high rates of water contamination, with a methane leak causing a resident's backyard water well to explode, tossing aside a concrete slab weighing several thousand pounds in one instance.
Right-wing media figures attacked President Obama's announcement of an agreement on diplomatic relations with Cuba, claiming that it is "appeasement" and tantamount to "prop[ping] up another communist dictator." But foreign policy experts and commentators have long supported a deal with Cuba to loosen the embargo and improve relations.