Fox News ran with misleading figures and false comparisons after Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel outlined a five-year Pentagon budget to stoke fears that the budget will harm the military.
Fox contributor Karl Rove deceitfully shuffled the words of former U.N. ambassador Susan Rice in an effort to accuse her of pushing a "contemptible falsehood" about the 2012 Benghazi attacks and claiming that she was part of an "endless Benghazi coverup."
In a February 26 op-ed for the Wall Street Journal "The Endless Benghazi Coverup," Rove took Rice's comments about the violent protests that were then erupting across the Middle East out of context, falsely representing them as a specific reference to the attacks on a U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya. According to Rove, Rice said the Benghazi attack was "absolutely" the result of the protests against a "'very hateful, very offensive video that has offended many people around the world":
The worst part of National Security Adviser Susan Rice's comments on Sunday's "Meet The Press" was that she expressed no regret for saying that the Sept. 11, 2012, attacks on U.S. outposts in Benghazi were "absolutely" the result of protests against a "very hateful, very offensive video that has offended many people around the world."
This is an egregious mischaracterization of the ambassador's words. In context, Rice's comment clearly referred to the protests that had broken out throughout the Middle East and not specifically to Benghazi.
Rove was referencing Rice's September 16 interview on Fox News' Fox News Sunday, which focused at different points on the anti-American protests that had broken out across the Middle East as well as the attack in Benghazi.
Wallace led with a question about the protests that were occurring "in two dozen countries across the Islamic world," and asked whether Rice agreed with White House press secretary Jay Carney's assessment that the protests came in "response to a video that is offensive" and had "nothing to do with the president's policies." The quote Rove cited was pulled from that response, and was not at all focused on the Benghazi attack (emphasis added on the portions quoted by Rove):
WALLACE: This week, there have been anti-American protests in two dozen countries across the Islamic world. The White House says it has nothing to do with the president's policies.
Let's watch. [...] You don't really believe that.
RICE: Chris, absolutely I believe that. In fact, it is the case. We had the evolution of the Arab spring over the last many months. But what sparked the recent violence was the airing on the Internet of a very hateful very offensive video that has offended many people around the world.
Beyond his misrepresentation of Rice's comments, Rove failed to add any new information to the increasingly stale media conversation about the Benghazi attack. The rest of his piece devolved into a dissection of whether or not "she was merely sharing 'the best information that we had at the time'" - something that Rove called "a contemptible falsehood." But there too, the evidence is on Rice's side.
Rove and other Fox figures have repeatedly pushed the smear that Rice deceptively attributed the Benghazi attack to the anti-Muslim video for political reasons, but even this unusually creative distortion doesn't change the facts.
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:
Karl Rove has called into question the relevance and efficacy of using Monica Lewinsky as political ammunition to attack Hillary and Bill Clinton in the run-up to the 2016 presidential campaign -- comments that fly in the face of public statements made by RNC chairman Reince Priebus.
On the February 11 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom, Fox contributor Karl Rove criticized Sen. Rand Paul's (R-KY) recent attempts to smear possible presidential candidate Hillary Clinton by bringing up her husband's relationship with Monica Lewinsky. Rove observed that "beating up on Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky" and "spending a lot of time talking about the mistakes of Bill Clinton" do not constitute "a big agenda for the future of the country":
HEMMER: Rand Paul is out there banging on the Clintons every day. Now what's his strategy?
ROVE: Well, I'm not sure he has a strategy, I was intrigued the other day, somebody said why are you doing this and he said people keep asking me about it. I'm not certain that it is -- look, each one of these candidates needs to do two things in 2014. One is they need to make this about something bigger than their own personal ambitions. This can't be 'I want to run for president' --' It's got to be about something bigger than that, and frankly, Rand Paul spending a lot of time talking about the mistakes of Bill Clinton does not look like a big agenda for the future of the country. The second thing that they need to do is they need to strengthen their skills as a candidate. Each one of these people has run and won in a state. Like Rand Paul has won in Kentucky, Chris Christie has won in New Jersey. But they are about ready to enter a contest that's going to be across 30 some-odd states for the primary, 35 or 40 states. They're going to cover most of all of the 50 states -- it's going to be a big complex thing, and they've got to strengthen their skills to get ready for it. I'm not certain again that beating up on Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky is a particularly good thing to strengthen your skills for the 2016 contest.
A year ago this week, The New York Times reported that Karl Rove was teaming up with "the biggest donors in the Republican Party" to create a new political group to "recruit seasoned candidates and protect Senate incumbents from challenges by far-right conservatives and Tea Party enthusiasts." A year later, the group is essentially dormant, having apparently done no fundraising and holding less than $200 cash on hand. What happened?
The Times report in early February 2013 announcing the formation of the Conservative Victory Project was big news in political circles. Rove's two other major political groups -- American Crossroads and its sister organization Crossroads GPS -- had proven to be fundraising juggernauts during the 2012 election cycle, raking in hundreds of millions of dollars.
Despite the fact that the Crossroads groups were largely ineffective at winning elections in 2012, Rove's apparent fundraising acumen meant that a new group was likely to be a heavy hitter in the world of political groups.
But according to recent filings with the FEC, Conservative Victory Project had $179 cash on hand as of December 31. The group brought in only $10,798 in the second half of 2013, and every dollar came from American Crossroads (its meager spending has all been on mundane things like legal and bank fees and computer support).
The fact that 2013 was mostly an off year for elections may have contributed to the lack of activity surrounding Conservative Victory Project (as it surely did for the Crossroads groups, whose fundraising decreased drastically compared to 2012). But other factors are almost certainly at play -- after all, the group intended to play an active role in GOP primaries around the country this year and rolled out with the help of a major New York Times article last February, a decidedly strange move if it intended to then sit on the sidelines for almost a whole year.
Rove, who has served as a Fox News contributor for several years, has had a historically rocky relationship with some of his fellow conservative media colleagues. The announcement of Conservative Victory Project, which right-wing personalities viewed as a betrayal of the tea party and conservative principles, caused the tensions to boil over.
From the January 14 edition of Fox News' On the Record with Greta Van Susteren:
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From the January 12 edition of Fox Broadcasting's Fox News Sunday:
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Fox News and its allies have ramped up their efforts in recent days to counteract an upcoming biography of network CEO Roger Ailes.
Gabriel Sherman, a New York magazine reporter, is set to release The Loudest Voice in the Room later this month. The first details from the book have started to leak out, including that Ailes reportedly was the mastermind of a heavily criticized campaign-style anti-Obama video that aired on Fox and that he told Fox News executives before the 2012 election that he "want[s] to elect the next president."
The network has sought to discredit Sherman for more than a year, with Fox personalities attacking Sherman as a "phoney journalist" and an "embarrassment." According to Politico, Ailes cooperated with a biography published last year by author Zev Chafets "because he was eager to preempt Sherman's version with a more favorable and hopefully sympathetic account of his legacy."
As publicity for Sherman's book heats up, Fox's campaign to destroy it is also gathering steam.
In an interview with Hollywood Reporter that ran today, Ailes attacks Sherman's book, claiming that publisher Random House "refused to fact check the content with me or Fox News; that tells you everything you need to know about this book and its agenda." (In a statement to Politico's Dylan Byers, Sherman responds that Ailes turned down "a dozen" requests to speak about the book, and says that a " team of two fact-checkers spent more than 2,000 hours vetting the manuscript before publication.")
Howard Kurtz highlighted the Hollywood Reporter interview in a piece for FoxNews.com, and noted that it "comes as Random House is preparing to publish a book about Ailes by New York magazine's Gabriel Sherman."
In another attempt to cast the Obama administration's focus on income inequality as an Obamacare distraction, Fox contributor Karl Rove argued that raising the minimum wage "doesn't affect a lot of American workers." But raising the minimum wage would impact 30 million workers, or nearly 20 percent of the American workforce.
On the January 6 edition of America's Newsroom, Fox News contributor Karl Rove dismissed the Obama administration's efforts to raise the minimum wage as yet another attempt to distract from the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and falsely claimed that raising the minimum wage "doesn't affect a lot of American workers" (emphasis added):
HEMMER: You know, I'm trying to figure this out, Karl. Do you see that as a new front to argue politics in America today in order to set up the debate for the midterm elections next November? Or do you see it as a distraction away from the issues of Obamacare? Is it A or B or is it a mix of both then?
ROVE: Well it's a mix of both but I thought it was interesting yesterday on the Sunday talk programs, Todd, from NBC talked about how he had talked to members of the administration, Chuck Todd said he talked to the people in the administration about the agenda for 2014 and the administration talked about everything but Obamacare. This is first and foremost an attempt to pivot away from something that is incredibly damaging to the administration, the so-called Affordable Care Act, and again, as I said, short run, there's a little bit of advantage here in the next couple of weeks or months in talking about raising the minimum wage and which doesn't affect a lot of American workers.
Fox News analyst Karl Rove falsely attributed the increased Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) beneficiaries to a lack of fraud protection programs in the system. In fact Medicare, Medicaid and SSDI have fraud programs in place to detect, prevent, and recover money from the relatively few instances of documented fraud.
On the October 8 edition of Fox's The O'Reilly Factor, Bill O'Reilly hosted Rove to explain the "big disability con" he believes explains the increase in SSDI recipients. Rove attributed the increased number of recipients to fraud as claimed by Sen. Tom Coburn's (R-OK) investigation cited in a misleading segment on CBS' 60 Minutes. Rove claimed that more people apply for disability because "there are no fraud protections in Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. None."
But fraud protections do exist in Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. The Department of Health and Human Services has issued a fact sheet detailing its program to prevent, detect, and report Medicare fraud. The fact sheet detailed laws in place that that punish Medicare fraud, which criminalizes the government being overcharged or knowingly defrauded by recipients, doctors, or third parties. It also provides information on partnerships with other government agencies and programs which help find and report fraud and abuse.
Despite admitting that Republicans played a major role in forcing the government shutdown, the right-wing media have adopted GOP messaging portraying President Obama and Democrats as unwilling to resolve the crisis.
From the October 1 edition of Fox News' Happening Now:
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Fox News figures have relentlessly pushed the GOP to defund the Affordable Care Act while ignoring the effect that defunding would have on health care costs, uninsured Americans, and new health care services.
Fox News contributor and GOP strategist Karl Rove revealed the real motive behind calls to delay implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA): To buy time until the election of a Republican president who would be willing to repeal the law in its entirety.
On the September 23 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, Rove discussed his previous criticism of Republicans and conservative media figures who have threatened to force a government shutdown if President Obama doesn't acquiesce to right-wing demands to completely defund the ACA, also known among conservatives as Obamacare. Congress must pass a continuing resolution by October 1 in order to fund the federal government. If not, the government will partially shut down. Republicans in Congress have insisted that they will only pass the resolution if it excludes funding for the ACA, one of Obama's signature accomplishments.
Rove opposed the idea of forcing a government shutdown, largely for fear of the political consequences. Instead, he pushed the idea that Republicans should attempt to delay implementation of the law -- currently scheduled to be fully implemented on October 1, 2013 -- until a Republican president is elected. "We need to have a President who will sign a measure defunding, repealing, getting rid of, and replacing Obamacare, and until we have a president who is going to do that we are going to be fighting."
When Fox host Bill O'Reilly pointed out that the next presidential election is three years away, Rove shrugged it off, responding, "That's why I favor a delay strategy."
Hawking shady products - gold coins sold at a 30-percent markup, "survival seeds," and financial newsletters only designed to enrich their authors -- has long been the core strategy of funding the conservative media enterprise.
But the deleterious effect of the latest conservative media scam threatens to be far greater than a tube of seeds that will yield no fruit.
The conservative media, along with Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Mike Lee (R-UT), have conned their base into believing that shutting down the government -- unless Barack Obama agrees to stop the implementation of Obamacare -- is a strategically and politically salient idea for the GOP and the conservative movement. Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) earlier this summer dubbed it "the dumbest idea I've ever heard."
Fueled by television ads starring Cruz and paid for by the Senate Conservative Fund -- a PAC initially founded by Heritage President Jim DeMint to shift the Senate GOP Conference rightward -- this movement was buoyed by an active campaign from the conservative media that began months ago. In July, Rush Limbaugh called the effort to block funding the government a "crucial thing" and the "one last chance to stop" Obamacare.
Sean Hannity called for a government shutdown months ago, telling his audience:
"I think they ought to just put their foot down, stand on principal and stop calculating what political impact is going to be felt here. Fund the rest of the government, but just defund Obamacare. And then if the Democrats want to shut down the government, then let them shut it down."
Fox News contributor Erick Erickson has used his blog, RedState.com, to call for the "scalps" of Republican politicians who do not "fight" to defund Obamacare with a government shutdown.
This has set off an internal GOP war, with some on the right expressing doubt that a government shutdown is a viable or effective strategy. This was on display Sunday on CBS's Face the Nation when Tom Coburn (R-OK) implied that his colleagues in the Senate pushing for a government shutdown weren't living in the "real world."
"Tactics and strategies ought to be based on what the real world is, and we do not have the political power to do this," Coburn told host Bob Schieffer. "We're not about to shut the government down over the fact that we cannot, only controlling one house of Congress, tell the president that we're not going to fund any portion of this. Because we can't do that."
Karl Rove also took to the pages of the Wall Street Journal to warn that defunding the government over Obamacare "would strengthen the president while alienating independents," ultimately leading the GOP towards electoral defeat.
Coburn, Rove, and others calling for restraint now are simply trying to slay a monster of their own creation. In early 2009, with momentum carrying the Obama administration forward, the Tea Party and its champions fought to create this toxic environment in which forcing a government shut down over Obamacare seemed like a viable option.
August town hall meetings degenerated into chaos as grassroots conservatives screamed at their members about a government takeover of healthcare. Obamacare was not simply a new health insurance system; the conservative base believed it was an all-out effort by Democrats to kill their grandmothers and children with disabilities. It needed to be defeated at all costs.
Tea Party members in Congress and the conservative media continued to use this rhetoric with their base long after their lies had been debunked and long after the bill's passage.
They cheered as this rhetoric enabled the GOP to win 63 seats in the House of Representatives, six in the Senate, and 675 state legislative seats -- allowing them to control the redistricting process.
They pushed their state governments to reject the law's Medicaid provisions and exchanges and looked the other way as conservative groups attempted to sabotage the implementation of the law by convincing young people it would be better to go without health insurance than sign up for Obamacare.
Admittedly, some groused when tea party extremists rejected candidates such as Mike Castle in Delaware in favor of sure losers like Christine O'Donnell, but they stood silent as tea party members in the House made the chamber ungovernable.
This week these strategies have finally come to a head. With the deadline for funding the government days away, the House has passed a bill sure to be rejected in the Senate and one the President won't sign. The Republican Caucus in the House is primarily made up of Tea Party members, whose districts, due to gerrymandering, are more subservient to the rhetoric of the conservative media than to the needs of the country.
Even those in the GOP and the conservative media lamenting this latest potential government shutdown bear responsibility for it. They have stood by and cheered since 2009 as the conservative base was spoon-fed lies about healthcare. Now that they recognize these lies have metastasized, not simply into false promises about gold coins or gardens that will feed your family after a financial apocalypse but into a political movement that will do long-term damage to the GOP, they are crying for its end.
However, the faulty calculation sold, and continuing to be sold, by many in the right-wing media is clear: if you can stop the federal government from murdering your grandmother and child, then a government shutdown and even electoral defeat is a small price to pay.