Nine Fox News hosts and contributors are headlining 2014 fundraisers for Republican organizations across the country. The network employees are participating in Lincoln Day Dinners, annual fundraisers usually held near the beginning of the year that provide significant support for local party groups.
The Fox fundraisers include hosts Mike Huckabee, Oliver North, and Andrea Tantaros; and contributors John Bolton, Deneen Borelli, Ben Carson, Sarah Palin, Karl Rove, and Allen West.
The Republican events can bring in big money for local Republicans. A Huckabee event in 2011 "grossed over $100,000" for Texas' Harris County GOP, while Ben Carson and Laura Ingraham have spoken at Palm Beach GOP's (FL) Lincoln Day events, which reportedly "typically takes in around $100,000" each year. Event tickets often reach into the $100s, and can increase with private reception opportunities, photos, and book signings. The events also often sell sponsorships ranging in the thousands.
Lincoln Dinners can also mean big money for the speakers. In prior years, Oregon's Lane County Republican Party paid Tucker Carlson $23,500 to keynote its 2011 dinner and John Bolton $28,330 to keynote its 2012 dinner, according to Oregon Secretary of State data and confirmed by Media Matters with a party official. Laura Ingraham was paid $12,500 for speaking in Palm Beach in 2013, according to local records. Then-Fox contributor Dick Morris received $10,000 to speak at a 2012 Lake County (FL) dinner. (Data for 2014 events isn't currently available through local campaign finance records, and even accessing older records can be difficult since some local governments do a poor job putting data online.)
The Lincoln Day speeches aren't much different from what's heard on Fox. In Sarasota, FL, Allen West reportedly "said that Democrats have repeatedly failed the black community." In Naples, FL, John Bolton took to "[c]alling the Obama administration's foreign policy weak, ineffective or nonexistent." In Sangamon County, IL, Ben Carson suggested the country has gone "from a free society to a communist or socialist society" because of the Affordable Care Act.
Dinner promotions have touted the speakers' affiliation with Fox News -- a regular practice with Republican events. The chair of the Sangamon County GOP told a local newspaper that they picked Carson because, "He's a conservative and (is) currently visible on TV, which makes him a celebrity draw."
Media Matters previously documented how over 30 Fox News hosts and contributors campaigned for Republican candidates and organizations during the 2011-2012 election cycle.
The following is a list of nine Fox Newsers, and the Republican Party apparatuses they're helping so far in 2014:
Scott Brown has some more company among Fox News employees publicly toying with runs for political office while still working for the network.
According to The Washington Post, Fox host Mike Huckabee "might be willing" to take another shot at securing the Republican presidential nomination. Huckabee told the Post that he is considering making a run in 2016 due to the encouragement he is getting "from places where I never got it before," including "business, people some would maybe call the establishment."
In an apparent attempt to drive home his seriousness about a possible run, Huckabee reportedly showed the paper a private poll "which he said was commissioned by supporters who are urging him to run again, which indicated he has the potential to make a strong showing in both Iowa and South Carolina." Huckabee joins John Bolton, who started teasing a potential 2016 run early this year, and Scott Brown, who seems on the verge of running for a Senate seat in New Hampshire, as Fox employees cashing a paycheck while openly considering runs for office.
The revolving door of Republican politicians and Fox News contributors is nothing new.
Fox News' John Bolton described a historic diplomatic deal between Iran and six world powers as "abject surrender" and attributed failure to a series of economic sanctions against Iran that many experts believe were responsible for bringing the nation to the bargaining table. Bolton followed up by advocating for airstrikes against Iran, a tactic some experts describe as "futile."
CNN's Fareed Zakaria reported that a new agreement between Iran and the U.S. over Iran's nuclear program "essentially freezes Iran's program for six months -- and rolls back some key aspects of it -- while a permanent deal is negotiated." Zakaria added that "[i]n return, Iran gets about $7 billion of sanctions relief, a fraction of what is in place against it. The main sanctions -- against its oil and banking sectors -- stay fully in place."
On the November 25 edition of Fox's America's News HQ, Former Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton criticized the deal as "abject surrender" to the Iranians. Bolton claimed sanctions "were never going to stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons anyway" because" sanctions need to be administered by a living breathing president," and in Bolton's mind, Obama isn't capable of success on this front. Bolton added that we must accept one of two propositions; a nuclear Iran, or support Israeli airstrikes.
But experts point out that strong sanctions put in place by Obama in 2010 have helped to bring Iran to the bargaining table, a fact Fox and Bolton failed to discuss. In February, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright explained in an interview on CBS This Morning that "the sanctions are working."
After an agreement was reached with Iran to halt parts of their nuclear program, right-wing media figures responded by calling the compromise "abject surrender by the United States" and comparing negotiations between the United States and Iran to British appeasement of Nazi aggression in the lead up to the Second World War.
Three Fox News personalities currently sit on the advisory board of Secure America Now, a conservative advocacy group that has called for a select committee to investigate the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. Fox News has heavily promoted calls to form a select committee on Benghazi alongside nonstop misinformation about the attacks.
John Bolton, Pat Caddell and Mike Huckabee are all listed as members of the group's advisory board. Bolton and Caddell are Fox News contributors, while Huckabee hosts his own show on the network on weekends.
Secure America Now's president, Allan Roth, said the group would market a new web video "far and wide and continue our campaign to get the Congress to appoint a Select Committee" to investigate the attack. Roth appeared on Fox host Sean Hannity's radio show on September 11 to promote the video and told him, "I just want to thank you for being one of the rare members of the news media who has dedicated time and the effort to keep the Benghazi story alive."
Hannity, of course, has relentlessly pushed myths and falsehoods about the attack.
Fox News has repeatedly promoted efforts to force the House to convene a select committee,even though the issue would be highly unlikely to survive a floor vote due to opposition from Democrats and some Republicans.
Former Rep. Allen West (R), a Fox contributor, appeared at a press conference outside the Capitol on Wednesday organized by Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) to push for the formation of a select committee, and also advocated for a military strike on Libya in retaliation for the Benghazi attack.
Fox News reacted to reports that a suspect in the September 2012 Benghazi attack has been indicted by attacking the Obama administration. This included pushing the narrative that terror suspects should be tried in military courts, ignoring the far more successful record of civilian courts in such trials.
Prior to the 2012 election, Fox News was the target of widespread criticism for employing no fewer than five people who were considering seeking the Republican nomination for president. One of those five, Fox contributor John Bolton, is reportedly already getting the ball rolling on the 2016 edition of the Fox News primary.
In an article at National Review Online, Robert Costa explained that possible 2016 presidential candidate Sen. Rand Paul's (R-KY) "views on foreign policy" are concerning "Republican hawks." According to Costa, "several leading conservative power brokers" are turning to Bolton as a more aggressive foreign policy alternative to Paul and are urging the former U.S. ambassador to the UN to throw his hat in the ring for 2016.
Per Costa, the former Bush administration U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations is giving the idea "serious consideration." He is reportedly planning tours of early primary states and meetings with party leaders in order to "make the case for a muscular foreign policy." Bolton will also reportedly be launching "a few related groups that will help elevate his argument and his national profile."
Any possible Bolton run will be also aided by his role at Fox, which has long served as a launching pad for various Republican candidates to explore campaigns for office. In 2010, former Fox contributor and Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum pointed to his job at Fox as having "been big" for helping "folks remember who I am ... It's a great platform, being able to talk about the current issues of the day."
Bolton is a regular fixture on the network, where he is brought on to rail against the Obama administration's handling of foreign policy issues and call for the use of military force to respond to international problems.
In 2010, while Bolton was making noise about possibly running for president in 2012, the network hosted him for 5 hours and 46 minutes of airtime, which Media Matters calculated was equivalent to more than $3.7 million in free advertising.
The network has already shown it is eager to promote the 2016 presidential ambitions of its employees. After host Mike Huckabee was asked whether he was considering a presidential run during a Newsmax TV interview and responded that he was "not ruling it out," Fox Nation highlighted the story under the headline, "Huckabee Hints At 2016 Run."
Fox News hosts and contributors baselessly stated that cuts to America's deployed nuclear arsenal proposed by President Obama would jeopardize U.S. national security. In fact, nuclear weapons experts assert that reducing nuclear arsenals helps the nation's security and say that the U.S. could have effective deterrence with fewer warheads.
From the May 14 edition of Fox News Channel's America's Newsroom:
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Fox News contributor John Bolton delivered a devastating blow to the right-wing scandal mongering over Benghazi when he acknowledged that it was impossible to know at the exact moment of the September 2012 terrorist attack whether it was appropriate to shift security resources away from the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli.
A key aspect of the right's conspiracy theory posits that an Obama administration official refused to send reinforcements to the Benghazi diplomatic outpost to defend Americans under sustained attack by terrorists. It's been amply established at this point that a team of reinforcements was dispatched from Tripoli, where the main embassy is located, to Benghazi, some 400 miles away, after the attacks began. That security team arrived after a first attack ended, the attack that ended in the death of the U.S. ambassador to Libya, but before a second attack began.
Bolton, appearing on the May 8 edition of Fox News' Happening Now, took issue with the decision not to send a second reinforcement team to Benghazi - a central component of hyper-partisan congressional hearings underway this week. Critics of the administration have pointed to that decision as evidence that it abandoned Americans who were under attack. But the additional reinforcements would not have been able to get to the Benghazi compound before the second attack was concluded. Here's Bolton's response:
When the attack began, no one could know when it would end. No one could know what the geographical limitation was. Was it simply an attack in Benghazi? Could terrorists be poised to attack the embassy in Tripoli? Were other posts around the Middle East in jeopardy? So the notion that you're just going to sit and wait for this to work itself out left a lot of other people at risk.
But it's precisely the fact that it was unclear that the embassy in Tripoli was safe that informed the decision over whether to send a second reinforcement team away from the embassy. NBC News reported that Department of Defense officials confirmed that a second unit was denied authorization to leave Tripoli for Benghazi during the night of the attack, in part because the security situation in Libya remained unclear:
U.S. military officials confirmed late Monday that a four-man Special Operations Forces team was denied permission to leave the US Embassy in Tripoli following reports that the consulate in Benghazi had been attacked.
The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the team was reviewing security at U.S. embassies throughout the Middle East and was not prepared for a combat assault mission, being armed with only 9mm sidearms.
They also noted that the situation at Benghazi remained unclear and there were concerns the Embassy in Tripoli also could become a target.
Bolton's seemingly accidental acknowledgement should put an end to the campaign - enabled and encouraged at every step by Fox News - to drum up a scandal of Watergate-sized proportions.
Right-wing media are using a congressional hearing to push new myths about the Obama administration's response to the September 11, 2012 attacks on a U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya. In fact, these myths are discredited by previous congressional reports and testimony, which show that the politicized nature of the hearings come from right-wing media and Congressional Republicans, that the military could not have rescued personnel from the second attack, that the administration was in constant communication at all levels during the attacks, and that the intelligence community believed there was a link to an anti-Islam video at the time of the attacks.
John Bolton has long been the id of the conservative foreign policy movement -- saying what all of his right wing brethren would not dare even mumble in polite company. He continued that trend yesterday on Neil Cavuto's Fox News program, telling the host during a discussion of the administration's reaction to the September 11, 2012, attack on diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya:
I'd have to say for the good of the country, I hope it is a cover up rather than the alternative, which is the Obama administration was so blind to the reality of the threat of Islamic terrorism, the continued threat from Al Qaeda... If that's the problem there's no cure for it. If it was merely a political cover-up then there can be a political cost to pay.
Bolton is claiming that the administration altered CIA talking points to suggest that the attacks came in response to an anti-Islam video -- an allegation debunked by the original draft of those talking points. But his reference to hoping for a cover-up is striking.
From the moment this attack occurred conservatives, led by the conservative media, have prayed for this to be the tipping point in their efforts to take down the Obama administration.
Conservatives like Bolton have grown frustrated with the remarkable resilience the President has had in the face of their attacks. No scandal they've trumped up has harmed the political standing of his administration.
What they don't realize is that they have created this coat of Teflon. Like the boy who cried wolf, it's impossible to take their cries of Oval Office conspiracies when credible investigations continue to debunk their claims. The results of the Accountability Review Board lead by Ambassador Tom Pickering and Admiral Mike Mullen, whose reputations in this matter are beyond reproach, were vital, detailing twenty-nine recommendations to avoid tragedies like Benghazi from happening in the future, while handing out blame where it was deserved.
This is unimportant to the right, who would rather pursue scalps than improvements in policy that could potentially save American lives.
Instead those on the right like John Bolton would rather continue to play the role of Ahab, hunting not for answers but to take down the President, a fact that in every instance leads them further from the truth.
Fast and Furious, Solyndra, and numerous other pseudo scandals have shown a conservative media uninterested in actual answers. Instead they simply wish that one day their prayers of a Obama scandal will come true.
The National Rifle Association's annual meeting on May 3-5 will feature a number of conservative media figures -- including Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, and Ted Nugent -- who often use violent rhetoric and promote gun-related conspiracy theories.
The National Rifle Association's fearmongering over the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty has reached a zenith, with its media representatives claiming that passing the treaty would result in "192 other countries to tell[ing] us what our gun control laws ought to be," while not passing the treaty would result in "even more of a threat when it comes to our Second Amendment."
Negotiations are currently taking place on the treaty, which aims to prevent the diversion of weapons to human-rights abusers in order to reduce the estimated 500,000 deaths that occur worldwide each year as a result of armed violence.
While the NRA routinely trumpets - and fundraises off of - the baseless conspiracy that the treaty is actually an Obama administration plot to disarm Americans, the text of the treaty proposal plainly states that it seeks to regulate the international trade in arms and not nations' domestic gun policies. Far from meddling in America's domestic gun affairs as the NRA claims, the treaty actually seeks to implement on an international scale arms trade standards already in place in the United States.
The latest claims from the NRA on the treaty came during the March 19 edition of the NRA's Cam & Company show on the Sportsman Channel when NRA News investigative journalist Ginny Simone interviewed Fox News contributor and NRA advisor John Bolton. During that interview, Bolton and Simone suggested that while it would be a disaster for the Second Amendment if the treaty were enacted, it would be even worse if it wasn't.
SIMONE: But you know John, they claim this is the final conference. So here's a what if. What if it doesn't get by this conference? And what if it doesn't get by the General Assembly and the U.N. decides, or the countries, the member states at the U.N., decide to go outside? Is that even more of a threat when it comes to our Second Amendment?
BOLTON: Well I think it is. And it actually allows more freedom for those who have an international control agenda to pursue.
Fox News contributor John Bolton used President Obama's upcoming trip to Israel as an opportunity to paint him as "the most hostile" U.S. president toward that nation in its history, ignoring the fact that Obama will receive the Presidential Medal of Distinction from Israeli leaders during his trip.
On Wednesday, Obama will begin a three-day trip to the West Bank and Israel where he is slated to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Discussing the trip on America Live, Bolton said, "I think it's clear that President Obama is the most hostile president that America's had since the formation of Israel in 1948."
Bolton's comments are unenlightened at best, given that Israel will award Obama the Presidential Medal of Distinction during his visit for his "unique and significant contribution to strengthening the State of Israel and the security of its citizens." Obama will also be the first sitting U.S. president to receive the award. From The Hill:
President Obama will be awarded the Israeli Presidential Medal of Distinction during his visit to Israel next month, according to a report in the Times of Israel.
Obama will be the first sitting U.S. president to receive the honor, which was announced by Israeli President Shimon Peres's office on Monday.
"Barack Obama is a true friend of the State of Israel, and has been since the beginning of his public life," said Peres in a statement announcing the decision.
The narrative that Obama is hostile toward Israel has long been advanced by Bolton and other right-wing media figures, even though Israel's own leaders have repeatedly praised the president for his record on Israel. In a March 2012 interview with Charlie Rose, Israeli President Shimon Peres said that Obama is "a great president and a great friend of Israel," and that under Obama, security ties are "the best we've ever had." In August 2011, former Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak told Fox's Greta Van Susteren, "I can hardly remember a better period of support, American support and cooperation and similar strategic understanding of events around us than what we have right now." Barak has also praised Obama for doing "more" for Israeli security than any other U.S. president.
And Prime Minister Netanyahu has repeatedly praised Obama for his administration's actions, including opposing a unilaterally-declared Palestinian state, helping to free Israelis detained in Cairo in September 2011, and helping fund a missile defense system.