Fox News relied on dubious arguments from a conservative group with a history of ethical problems to cast doubt on how the Obama administration is implementing government regulations related to the health care reform law.
In a segment titled "Regulation Nation," anchor Jenna Lee claimed that the health care law's new regulations are on the "fast track" because the public hasn't been afforded enough time to offer input on them before their passage. Correspondent Shannon Bream added that this was in contrast to a 1993 executive order from former President Clinton, which required a minimum of 60 days for comment.
Bream based her reporting on the work of right-wing group Americans for Limited Government, which has a history of ethical problems that include fraud and financial disclosure issues. The group has also been accused of engaging in character attacks.
In fact, the Obama administration has complied with regulatory rules. Moreover, despite Bream's assertion that comment periods should last at least 60 days, there is no required minimum period.
Federal Register guidelines state that "in general, agencies will specify a comment period ranging from 30 to 60 days," but they may also use shorter periods "when that can be justified." Clinton's 1993 executive order recommended that a comment period last at least 60 days "in most cases."
An executive order President Obama signed in January 2011 improving regulation and regulatory review reaffirmed Clinton's order, reading:
To the extent feasible and permitted by law, each agency shall afford the public a meaningful opportunity to comment through the Internet on any proposed regulation, with a comment period that should generally be at least 60 days.
Bream ended the segment by claiming that "there have been nearly 6,000 federal regulations proposed just in the last 90 days."
According to the government's regulation website, regulations.gov, there have been 5,803 new postings in the last 90 days. However, more than 4,000 of those are "notices," which include updates to previous regulations, scheduled hearings, grant applications, and meeting announcements. Less than 1,500 are listed as new regulations and rules.
Fox previously used the term "Regulation Nation" to launch a weeklong attack on federal regulations just as the Republican Party announced its push for repealing regulations. Fox also has a history of attacking health care reform.
Fox News is hyping a petition that calls for Congress to repeal the Environmental Protection Agency's authority to regulate greenhouse gases, on the grounds that global warming is a "hoax." But while hyping 15,000 signatures gathered by a group that is in the business of misleading the public on climate science, Fox ignored that over 3 million comments have been submitted in favor of EPA's greenhouse gas regulations.
Fox News uncritically repeated the conservative Heartland Institute's declaration that the extensive science behind manmade climate change is just a "hoax." The group's petition, which is being promoted by Republican Senator James Inhofe, tries to cast doubt on everything from the basic physics of the greenhouse effect to the fact that Arctic sea ice has hit record lows and sea levels are rising. Based on that misinformation, the petition argues that the EPA should allow businesses to continue spewing huge amounts of greenhouse gases into the air at no cost to the polluters.
Fox News did not give any background on the Heartland Institute, which has received significant industry funding and came under fire earlier this year for a billboard campaign associating acceptance of climate science with murderers. Heartland took down the billboard, but refused to apologize for its "experiment."
During a Fox News panel discussion on how women helped reelect President Obama, host Jenna Lee wondered what obstacles the Republican Party needed to overcome to win a sizeable share of the female vote. Yet apart from saying that "we heard a lot about" the "alleged war on women," Lee did not touch on the party's attacks on women's rights, including the GOP's expansive legislative efforts to restrict those rights, or the party's dismissal of wage equality.
On Happening Now, Lee hosted three women to talk about the Republican Party's gender gap and how Republicans can "do a better job of winning the female vote." Lee noted that Obama beat Republican Mitt Romney by 11 points among women and went on to ask guest Sabrina Schaeffer how Republicans can "fight the battle of the alleged war on women" if they avoid talking about gender politics.
Schaeffer, the executive director of the Independent Women's Forum, said that Republicans should talk to women about how they can expand women's liberty, which "is not a war on women." Guest Wendi Biondi, who attended the second presidential debate, added: "I cannot stand that term 'war on women.' "
Despite Lee's reference to a "war on women," not once did she note that the Republican Party has launched a wide-ranging assault on women's rights -- nor did she discuss recent inflammatory comments by two GOP lawmakers that resulted in their election-night losses.
During an interview with local St. Louis TV station KTVI, Republican Congressman Todd Akin claimed that it's "really rare" for women subjected to "legitimate rape" to become pregnant. Likewise, Indiana Republican Senate candidate Richard Mourdock suggested that pregnancies resulting from rape are "something that God intended to happen."
This rhetoric is reflected in actual policies pushed by Republicans.
From the November 4 edition of Fox News' America's Election HQ:
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From the October 22 edition of Fox News' Happening Now:
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Fox anchor Jenna Lee ignored the facts to suggest that holiday season hiring may explain why the unemployment rate dropped to 7.8 percent. In fact, the government agency responsible for the jobs report takes into account seasonal factors such as holiday hiring when it releases unemployment figures.
On Fox News' Happening Now, Lee said to former Republican governor John Engler: "Some of our viewers have asked questions about whether or not we're seeing seasonal hiring as we get closer to the holidays. So how much of a factor do you think that really is, governor?" Engler responded: "Well, Halloween's the second-largest retail holiday that we have, so it's a factor. I'm not going to say that that's the whole story, it isn't."
But the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which releases the jobs report, says that it adjusts jobs numbers for seasonal fluctuations such as "the hiring (and layoff) patterns that accompany regular events such as the winter holiday season."
Without the seasonal adjustment, the unemployment rate would be even lower at 7.6 percent.
Fox News anchor Jenna Lee highlighted the extremely misleading statistic that the economy has lost more than 470,000 jobs since January 2009. In doing so, Lee ignored the fact that President Obama took office in the middle of a deep recession when hundreds of thousands of jobs were being shed each month.
Responding to the release of the June jobs report showing a gain of 80,000 jobs last month, President Obama highlighted the positive trend in private sector job growth, noting that "businesses have created 4.4 million new jobs over the past 28 months." After repeating Obama's comments, Lee said:
LEE: But remember, the president has been in office for roughly three and a half years, and according to the Labor Department, since the president took office in January of 2009, and private and public sectors combined have actually lost 473,000 jobs.
In the wake of a $2 billion trading loss sustained by the bank JPMorgan Chase, many economists have advocated for the strengthening of financial reform to prevent against reckless behavior. Not Fox, however, which has argued that the problem is too much regulation of Wall Street banks.
From the April 16 edition of Fox News' Happening Now:
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This morning in a "straight news" segment, Fox News aired the following graphic supposedly showing "Taxes At The Pump":
There are several reasons why this graphic does more to confuse than to inform. First, Fox double-counted state taxes. They included the average state tax of about 23 cents per gallon both in the category "state" taxes and in the category "state & local" taxes. The total of both state and local taxes is 30.4 cents on average. Fox also placed $3.83 at the bottom, as if taxes are in addition to the price for gasoline. But the $3.83 figure already includes the taxes.
And in a continuing struggle with the concept of scale, Fox's three tax figures appear about 70 percent as large as the $3.83 displayed underneath, when mathematically they're less than 20 percent (and that's without correcting for the double-counted state taxes).
From the February 28 edition of Fox News' Happening Now:
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From the February 16 edition of Fox News' Happening Now:
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Fox News is falsely claiming that McKinsey & Co. has released a new survey this week estimating that a large number of employers will drop health coverage under the Affordable Care Act. However, in an email to Media Matters, McKinsey stated that it has not released any new research on the topic in months.
It all started on October 27, when Republicans on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, led by House Republican Darrell Issa, issued a report critical of health care reform. The report cited research that McKinsey had released in June that stoked fears that "more than 30 percent of employers overall, and 28 percent of large ones, say they will definitely or probably drop coverage after 2014."
On Wednesday, just days after Issa's report cited McKinsey's June research, America's Newsroom co-host Bill Hemmer claimed that McKinsey itself was responsible for "a survey out this week." On Monday, Happening Now co-host Jenna Lee claimed that "a new survey conducted by an independent research firm finds that 30 percent of employers will definitely or probably stop offering company-sponsored health coverage once the new health-care law kicks in." Lee did not make clear what "new survey" was the source of her claim.
When Media Matters contacted McKinsey & Company to obtain a copy of the new survey, the organization told Media Matters via email that it has not released one on this topic since June. From the email:
We did not release any other survey on this topic. The Fox News piece is based on the survey that was conducted in February of this year and published in June. All the information about that survey is available on our website: http://www.mckinsey.com/en/Features/US_employer_healthcare_survey.aspx.
In June, Fox had aggressively promoted the McKinsey survey to warn that 30 percent of employers would drop health coverage once the Affordable Care Act was implemented, forcing 78 million Americans out of their current health insurance. Fox trumpeted the survey results as "blockbuster" research that undermined efforts to reform the health care system.
Those claims fell apart after McKinsey was forced to acknowledge that the survey was not intended to be a predictive economic analysis.
This is not the first time Fox News has served as a mouthpiece for GOP research.
From the October 17 edition of Fox News' Happening Now:
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Fox News is suggesting that President Obama has broken a promise he made in March that he would not put boots on the ground in Libya. But as Fox itself is reporting, there are a total of "[e]ight boots ... belonging to four individuals" on the ground.
And those four individuals are "military personnel with expertise in explosives" and "general security" personnel advising the State Department on how to rebuild the U.S. embassy in Tripoli. So it sure does not appear that Obama has broken any promises not to put boots on the ground to fight in Libya.
Nevertheless, here's supposed "straight-news" anchor Jenna Lee beginning a report by claiming that "We've heard the president and others say that there will be no boots on the ground in Libya and now we know that there are boots on the ground":
The story also made Fox's evening "straight news." On The Fox Report, correspondent Jennifer Griffins' concluded a segment on "U.S. boots on the ground in Libya" by stating that "Both State Department and Pentagon officials today insist that this is not a breach of the president's promise not to place boots on the ground, a promise that he made back in March." The host of the show, Shepard Smith, sarcastically replied to Griffin stating, "And they also insist it's not a war so there you go."
An article on FoxNews.com parroted the same information in an article titled "U.S. Boots on the Ground In Libya, Pentagon Confirms." The article stated that "Obama assured Americans in March when the bombing campaign over Libya began that there would be no boots on the ground. From the East Room of the White House on March 18, he said: "The United States is not going to deploy ground troops into Libya."