National Public Radio's Morning Edition presented falsehoods about Republican Senate candidate Cory Gardner (CO) as fact, misrepresenting his extreme policy positions on reproductive rights in a discussion on the battle for the women's vote in the midterm elections.
From the June 17 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier:
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From the May 1 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier:
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Fox News figures revived the tired falsehood that President Obama and his administration neglected to acknowledge Benghazi as a terrorist attack, this time adding speculation that Hillary Clinton may have played a role in the imaginary omission.
On January 13 the House Armed Services Committee released declassified transcripts of congressional briefings on the September 11, 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya. One portion of the transcripts detailed Marine Corps Colonel George Bristol, commander of an Africa-based task force during the Benghazi attacks, testifying that at the time of the assault in Benghazi, the military considered the assault to be an attack.
That evening's Special Report presented Bristol's words as groundbreaking, suggesting they indicted both the Obama administration and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
The Weekly Standard's Steve Hayes, a Fox contributor called it "a pretty significant development" because "[f]or the president and his advisers to go out and for two weeks pretend that that wasn't the case is quite extraordinary." And NPR's Mara Liasson, also a Fox contributor, took the claims even further, wondering if Clinton "might be tied in some way to ... deciding not to call it a terrorist attack."
Conservative media have been facilitating a witch hunt against U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, claiming that her public statements regarding the attack on the diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, were untruthful and misleading. In fact, Rice was using talking points that had been approved by the CIA, and she repeatedly emphasized that the information was preliminary.
Fox News commentators have reimagined U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice's statements about the consulate attack in Benghazi, saying Rice was "so definitive" in Sunday show interviews about what had happened there. In fact, Rice repeatedly made clear during her interviews that definitive conclusions would only follow from an administration investigation, which she stressed was under way.
National Public Radio's newly unveiled Ethics Handbook discourages its news employees from forming contracts with "other media outlets." NPR notes that such requests will likely be denied. However, NPR is going to allow national political correspondent Mara Liasson, one of the few NPR employees who has a contract with another media outlet, to continue her long-running appearances on Fox.
The unlikely pairing of an NPR commentator regularly appearing on partisan Fox News has bedeviled the radio network for years. Its Ethics Handbook was revised because of the controversy that erupted in 2010 when NPR fired Juan Williams for controversial comments he made about Muslims while appearing on The O'Reilly Factor. Even prior to the 2010 tumult, NPR bosses were so uncomfortable with Williams' public association with O'Reilly's show that they reportedly insisted he remove his NPR identifier when he appeared on The Factor.
An NPR ethics task force was designed to address dilemmas such as the one surrounding Williams' high-profile Fox News affiliation. Previewing its recommendations last year, the 14-person advisory group singled out the need for NPR to do away with long-term contracts with outside media companies.
According to a report last year in Current, which covers public broadcasting, the task force was clear that NPR should "have its journalists phase out any long-term contracts for appearances on other media outlets." The task force recommended those media appearances be approved on a case-by-case basis. The task force made its formal presentation to the NPR Board last September and the Ethics Handbook was then formalized over the winter.
Following that task force recommendation, the handbook makes clear that NPR employees are unlikely to be granted permission to enter into new, long-term arrangements (emphasis added):
We don't enter into contracts with other media outlets without approval from senior news management and NPR's legal department. Understand that in most cases permission will not be granted.
One of the concerns stated in the handbook for the get-tough policy about regular outside work is that those arrangements subject NPR "to the editorial agenda of producers who may not share our standards." That includes the editorial agenda of Fox News.
However, an NPR spokesperson informs Media Matters that Liasson will be allowed to maintain her long-term association with Fox News and its unique set of "standards."
National Public Radio's Board of Directors will meet this week to discuss the news organization's ethics code, which is being revised in the wake of the controversy surrounding Juan Williams' firing. Earlier this year, an NPR task force working on the code recommended that the new guidelines move away from long-term associations between NPR employees and outside media outlets. National political correspondent Mara Liasson, who regularly appears on Fox News, is among the very few NPR employees who currently enjoy such a long-term pact.
An NPR spokeswoman tells Media Matters that no final decision regarding Liasson's Fox News job has been made, but that the type of on-going media contract Liasson has with Fox was reviewed by an NPR ethics task force.
According to a report earlier this year in Current, which covers public broadcasting, the task force was clear that NPR should "have its journalists phase out any long-term contracts for appearances on other media outlets." Instead, those media appearances should be approved on a case-by-case basis.
The task force was created in the wake of the Williams firing, prompted by his comments on Fox's O'Reilly Factor that he felt uncomfortable flying with passengers dressed in "Muslim garb." NPR executives, who had long been unhappy with William's association with Fox News, terminated his contract.
The move sparked a wide controversy, with the right-wing media responding with special indignation, echoing Williams' claim he had been unfairly fired. Conservatives also claimed, often hysterically, that NPR's personnel move highlighted what they saw as the network's embedded liberal bias. Indeed, Fox News unleashed a nasty attack campaign against Liasson's employer, regularly ambushed its CEO, and spread all kinds of smears and misinformation about NPR and its staff in an effort to defund and destroy public broadcasting. (Fox News' Brit Hume essentially called NPR racist for firing Williams.)
Liasson, who has been an NPR employee for two decades, maintained her Fox News association in spite of the network's harassment campaign of NPR, which culminated with chief Roger Ailes denouncing Liasson's bosses as "Nazis."
From the June 12 edition of Fox Broadcasting Co.'s Fox News Sunday:
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On Fox News Sunday, NPR's Mara Liasson claimed job creation is Mitt Romney's "brand," adding that "this is his issue ... and I think that that really helps him." But as governor of Massachusetts, "Romney presided over one of the puniest rates of employment growth among the 50 U.S. states, at a time the nation's economy was booming," according to Reuters.
From the January 24 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier:
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From the January 16 edition of Fox Broadcasting Company's Fox News Sunday:
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At the height of the health care reform debate last fall, Bill Sammon, Fox News' controversial Washington managing editor, sent a memo directing his network's journalists not to use the phrase "public option."
Instead, Sammon wrote, Fox's reporters should use "government option" and similar phrases -- wording that a top Republican pollster had recommended in order to turn public opinion against the Democrats' reform efforts.
Journalists on the network's flagship news program, Special Report with Bret Baier, appear to have followed Sammon's directive in reporting on health care reform that evening.
Sources familiar with the situation in Fox's Washington bureau have told Media Matters that Sammon uses his position as managing editor to "slant" Fox's supposedly neutral news coverage to the right. Sammon's "government option" email is the clearest evidence yet that Sammon is aggressively pushing Fox's reporting to the right -- in this case by issuing written orders to his staff.
As far back as March 2009, Fox personalities had sporadically referred to the "government option."
Two months prior to Sammon's 2009 memo, Republican pollster Frank Luntz appeared on Sean Hannity's August 18 Fox News program. Luntz scolded Hannity for referring to the "public option" and encouraged Hannity to use "government option" instead.
Luntz argued that "if you call it a 'public option,' the American people are split," but that "if you call it the 'government option,' the public is overwhelmingly against it." Luntz explained that the program would be "sponsored by the government" and falsely claimed that it would also be "paid for by the government."
"You know what," Hannity replied, "it's a great point, and from now on, I'm going to call it the government option."
On October 26, 2009, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced the inclusion of a public insurance option that states could opt out of in the Senate's health care bill.
That night, Special Report used "public" and "government" interchangeably when describing the public option provision.
Anchor Bret Baier referred to "a so-called public option"; the "public option"; "government-provided insurance coverage"; "this government-run insurance option"; the "healthcare public option"; and "the government-run option, the public option." Correspondent Shannon Bream referred to "a government-run public option"; "a public option"; "a government-run option"; and "the public option."
The next morning, October 27, Sammon sent an email to the staffs of Special Report, Fox News Sunday, and FoxNews.com, as well as to other reporters and producers at the network. The subject line read: "friendly reminder: let's not slip back into calling it the 'public option.' "
Sammon instructed staff to refer on air to "government-run health insurance," the "government option," "the public option, which is the government-run plan," or -- when "necessary" -- "the so-called public option":
From: Sammon, Bill
Sent: Tuesday, October 27, 2009 8:23 AM
To: 054 -FNSunday; 169 -SPECIAL REPORT; 069 -Politics; 030 -Root (FoxNews.Com); 036 -FOX.WHU; 050 -Senior Producers; 051 -Producers
Subject: friendly reminder: let's not slip back into calling it the "public option"
1) Please use the term "government-run health insurance" or, when brevity is a concern, "government option," whenever possible.
2) When it is necessary to use the term "public option" (which is, after all, firmly ensconced in the nation's lexicon), use the qualifier "so-called," as in "the so-called public option."
3) Here's another way to phrase it: "The public option, which is the government-run plan."
4) When newsmakers and sources use the term "public option" in our stories, there's not a lot we can do about it, since quotes are of course sacrosanct.
Fox's senior vice president for news, Michael Clemente, soon replied. He thanked Sammon for his email and said that he preferred Fox staffers use Sammon's third phrasing: "The public option, which is the government-run plan."
This is getting to be ridiculous.
Why NPR continues to allow one of its most high-profile political correspondents to maintain an on-going, on-air professional bond with Fox News simply makes no sense. It hasn't made much sense for years, since that kind of relationship with Fox News clearly seems to runs counter to the guidelines established for the NPR newsroom. But it makes absolutely zero sense in the wake of Fox News chief Roger Ailes' unhinged and bitter remarks, painting NPR executives as "Nazis" and NPR journalists as government-funded hacks.
That's who NPR wants to continue a relationship with by having Mara Liasson constantly appear on Fox News program? It just makes no sense to me and if somebody at NPR could explain what logic would allow Liasson to keep using her NPR alliance while appearing on Fox News, I'd sure like to hear it.
And keep in mind this nugget from NPR's laudable ethics code and what it has to say about staffers making outside media appearances [emphasis added]:
Permission for such appearances may be revoked if NPR determines such appearances are harmful to the reputation of NPR or the NPR participant.
Again, Ailes just lashed out at NPR and called it a haven for Nazis. Ailes apologized for his Third Reich rhetoric, although not to NPR, and then inserted a new round of insults ("nasty, inflexible bigot") replace the "Nazi" slur.
So in light of Ailes' mad rants and the complete public train wreck they represent, this simple question remains: How is maintaining a public alliance with Fox News not "harmful to the reputation of NPR"?
Remember, NPR's Mara Liasson thinks Fox News is a legitimate news outlet and doesn't see anything wrong with getting paid to appear on its programs.
Keep that in mind as you read this crazy outburst from Fox News chief, Roger Ailes:
They are, of course, Nazis. They have a kind of Nazi attitude. They are the left wing of Nazism. These guys don't want any other point of view. They don't even feel guilty using tax dollars to spout their propaganda. They are basically Air America with government funding to keep them alive.
The question for Liasson, an NPR national political correspondent, is a simple one. Yes, she continues to contribute on-air to Fox News despite the fact her appearances seem to run afoul of NPR's ethical standards. But on a more personal level, does Liasson want to continue to be associated with Fox News when its chief is lobbing hateful and demeaning attacks against Liasson's longtime employer?
As I noted last month:
[W]hen the Juan Williams controversy broke, Fox News unleashed a nasty attack campaign against Liasson's employer, spreading all kinds of smears and misinformation about NPR and its staff in an effort to defund and destroy a jewel of public broadcasting. (Fox News' Brit Hume basically called NPR racist for firing Williams.)
Given Fox News' current crusade, I don't see why Liasson, who's been cashing NPR paycheck for two decades, would want to continue to work with a media outlet that now seems bent on discrediting and destroying her employer; and destroying it with a vicious smear campaign. From a professional or personal point of view, why would Liasson want to have anything to do with Fox News and its band of NPR haters who now relentlessly ambush NPR's chief on the street?
With his unhinged interview this week, Ailes has now raised the bar on NPR hating. Will Liasson finally step forward and defend her colleagues from these insane attacks? And if not, should we conclude that Liasson agrees with Ailes' description of NPR as being home to Nazis and government hacks?
In other words, is there anything Fox News can do to demean and destroy NPR that Liasson will publicly object to?