Fox News host Megyn Kelly and senior political analyst Brit Hume were shocked by the suggestion that Arizona's anti-gay law might allow "a Christian doctor who is deeply conservative in his religious views to deny treatment" to patients on the basis of sexual orientation, an interesting change of pace for a network that has no problems regularly defending the religiously-based denial of women's health services.
In a February 25 segment on Fox's The Kelly File, Kelly and Hume agreed that the Arizona law -- which could provide legal protections to religious business owners who deny services and accommodations to gay couples on the basis of their sexual orientation -- went too far because the possibility of denying medical services to gay people was "an order of magnitude greater than the legal right to deny services to a gay wedding":
But neither Kelly nor Hume managed to point out the obvious -- Christian doctors are already enabled to deny services to all women on religious grounds.
After months of championing anti-gay business owners and criticizing efforts to protect gay and lesbian customers from discrimination, Fox News is finally waking up to the consequences of its fear mongering campaign - and it doesn't like what it's seeing.
The Supreme Court's historic decision to strike down Section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in 2013 left many anti-gay marriage activists reeling. Recognizing that their decade long fight against marriage equality was quickly becoming a lost cause, many anti-gay conservatives turned their attention to an issue that they believed might offer them more traction - the religious liberty of anti-gay business owners.
While opponents of marriage equality have long warned about businesses being forced to serve gay couples, it's only recently that the issue of protecting anti-gay business owners became a rallying cry for social conservatives.
That rallying cry has been largely amplified by Fox News, which in recent months has worked to tout anti-gay business owners as martyrs, victimized by gay activists seeking services for their same-sex weddings and commitment ceremonies.
Falsely accusing gay activists of ushering the "death of free enterprise" in America, Fox News has highlighted a number of anti-gay horror stories in which religious business owners have faced penalties for refusing to serve gay customers:
In each of these cases, the business owners were found to have violated their state's non-discrimination laws. And in each of these cases, Fox News depicted the business owners as victims whose religious freedoms were being threatened by being required to serve gay customers.
As fact checkers investigated and debunked claims made in an ad attacking the Affordable Care Act, Fox News and other conservative media used a cancer patient's illness to defend the spot's dishonesty.
The episode is part of an ongoing pattern in the conservative media of promoting anecdotal Obamacare horror stories that have fallen apart under scrutiny.
From the February 25 edition of Fox News' The Kelly File:
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Fox News has spent the last several months championing anti-gay business owners who refuse to serve gay customers - depicting efforts to prevent discrimination as threats to religious liberty. Now, with several states debating bills that would legalize homophobic discrimination in business and employment, Fox News is now defending the extreme, anti-gay segregation policies it helped to create.
The push to legalize anti-gay discrimination first came to public attention on February 12, when the Kansas House of Representatives passed a bill authorizing individuals and businesses to refuse any services "related to, or related to the celebration of" any union - effectively allowing blanket protection for the denial of services to gay couples. After a storm of negative publicity, the State Senate has shelved the bill.
Similar bills have recently died in Idaho, South Dakota, and Tennessee, but the Arizona legislature has sent its own license to discriminate measure to Republican Gov. Jan Brewer's desk.
The wave of anti-gay segregation measures is the culmination of a concerted right-wing strategy, bolstered by Fox News, to cast anti-gay discrimination as an integral part of religious freedom.
Long before the public outcry over Kansas' license to discriminate bill, Fox threw its weight behind businesses whose owners refuse, ostensibly on religious grounds, to serve gay and lesbian couples - precisely the form of discrimination that conservative state legislators have sought to legalize.
As part of Fox's continued conflation of homophobia and Christianity, the network has repeatedly defended discrimination by anti-gay business owners as an essential part of religious liberty.
On December 10, Fox & Friends hosted Colorado baker Jack Phillips and his extremist Alliance Defending Freedom-affiliated attorney to discuss a court ruling that Phillips had violated the state's anti-discrimination law by refusing to serve a same-sex couple. The segment featured a graphic proclaiming "The Death Of Free Enterprise," while co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck asked Phillips why he thought he shouldn't have to discard his "personal religious beliefs just to make a buck."
Just days after one Fox host made the lucid acknowledgement that the network's campaign against Susan Rice was based on dishonest smears about the genesis of her 2012 Benghazi talking points, another Fox host attempted to exploit Rice's recent appearance on Meet the Press by relapsing into the same debunked accusations against her.
Beginning in 2012, Fox repeatedly pushed the smear that then-U.N. ambassador Susan Rice deceptively attributed the September 11 attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi to the violent protests that had broken out in other parts of the Middle East and Africa in response to an anti-Islam YouTube video. The network persisted in dragging Rice through the mud until Fox host Megyn Kelly briefly broke ranks on the February 12, 2014 edition of Fox News' The Kelly File and admitted Rice had simply cited the best intelligence available at the time.
Days later, after Rice made a nearly identical argument on Meet the Press, Fox apparently couldn't let an opportunity to continue inventing Benghazi news hooks go to waste. On February 24 the hosts of Fox News' Fox & Friends were back to pushing the networks' tired smears:
Substantial evidence supports Rice. A bipartisan Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report released in January 2014 stated that "[s]ome intelligence suggests the attacks were likely put together in short order, following that day's violent protests in Cairo against an inflammatory video." It also determined that "there were no efforts by the White House or any other Executive Branch entities to 'cover-up' facts or make alterations for political purposes" -- directly refuting Fox's efforts to drag both Rice and another official, then-CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell, through the mud.
Fox News host Megyn Kelly hid the fact that her colleagues pushed baseless claims that conservative commentator Dinesh D'Souza was politically targeted by the FBI after he was indicted for breaking campaign finance laws.
On February 21, Kelly hosted D'Souza to defend himself from a recent FBI indictment that charged him with campaign finance fraud and to promote his latest anti-Obama film. Kelly reported on a letter sent by four Republican senator to the FBI claiming there is a perception that D'Souza "may have been targeted because of his outspoken criticisms" of President Obama. Kelly then went on to list only Alan Dershowitz as among those who questioned the motivation behind the charges, saying the charges "immediately rais[ed] red flags for some because D'Souza, who has pleaded not guilty, is behind the box office hit 2016: Obama's America, a film that is very critical of the president":
Fox News hosts were among those that claimed the charges were politically motivated, a fact that Kelly failed to mention. While interviewing D'Souza on January 31, Sean Hannity said he was the "latest victim to be targeted" and that he was placed on the president's "enemies list." Hosts of The Five joined in by saying they believed the charges were "politically motivated" and that they are an example of liberals "rediscovering their inner Stalin." Others on Fox have criticized the indictment as an example of "conservatives under attack."
Fox News will host discredited smear merchant Kathleen Willey tonight to attack Hillary Clinton. Willey is not credible -- she has repeatedly been caught contradicting her own sworn testimony and has pushed absurd conspiracies that the Clintons killed her husband and former White House aide Vince Foster.
The website for Fox's The Kelly File currently features the following tease for tonight's episode: "She claimed Bill Clinton sexually harassed her, but former aide Kathleen Willey now says Hillary is the bigger danger to women! Don't miss this explosive interview." Megyn Kelly's interview will likely cover the same ground as an appearance Willey made on WND reporter Aaron Klein's radio program, during which she claimed that "Hillary Clinton is the war on women."
Willey's claims about Bill Clinton's supposed harassment have been thoroughly discredited. In 1998, Willey alleged on CBS' 60 Minutes that President Clinton fondled her against her will in 1993 during a private White House meeting in which she asked for a paid position in the administration (she was working as a volunteer at the time). Clinton denied making any sexual advance toward Willey, both at the time and in his memoir. The allegations were explored during discovery of Jones v. Clinton, the lawsuit in which Paula Jones claimed that Clinton sexually harassed her, and reviewed by Independent Counsel Robert Ray.
Ray's report found that "Willey's Jones deposition testimony differed from her grand jury testimony on material aspects of the alleged incident," noting that Willey "said at her deposition ... that [Clinton] did not fondle her." Ray also pointed out that -- despite Willey's subsequent claims that she had been intimidated near her home shortly before giving her Jones deposition in 1998 -- in her Jones deposition, she "testified no one had tried to discourage her from testifying."
Ray also found that Willey contradicted herself on whether she had told others about the alleged incident; that Willey had sent repeated letters to Clinton after she claims he harassed her in which she "sought help or expressed gratitude"; that a Willey friend said Willey had instructed her to falsely support her story; and that Willey gave false information to the FBI. The Independent Counsel declined to prosecute Clinton due to "insufficient evidence."
Since her initial 60 Minutes interview, Willey has offered a series of implausible and conspiratorial claims about the Clintons' alleged efforts to silence her.
Without fanfare, Fox News host Megyn Kelly finally acknowledged that the network's campaign to sink Susan Rice's potential nomination to President Obama's cabinet was rooted in fundamental dishonesty.
In 2012, Fox repeatedly pushed the smear that Rice, for political reasons, deceptively attributed the September 2012 attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi to violent protests over an anti-Islam video that were sweeping the Middle East and Africa. Together with scores of right-wing pundits, the network dragged Rice through the mud, despite the fact that she was simply citing intelligence community's talking points that attributed the Benghazi attacks to the video. At the height of Fox's dishonest campaign, Kelly questioned whether Rice was qualified to serve as Secretary of State:
I think now all of our viewers know [Rice], because she's the one who went on all the Sunday talk shows and told us that everything that happened in Benghazi was linked to this video, which we now know was not the case. Can she possibly ascend into the Cabinet, into this position in the Cabinet, given that?
Fox's messaging was clear: Susan Rice was a liar who could not be trusted to serve as Secretary of State.
And so it's shocking to hear Kelly now say that Rice was simply saying what the intelligence community told her to be their best assessment at the time. During a discussion with Rep. Martha Roby (R-AL) on the February 11 edition of her Fox News show, Kelly referenced a House committee report released that day, and admitted that Rice's talking points reflected CIA intelligence that "the attacks in Benghazi were spontaneously inspired by the protests at the embassy in Cairo":
KELLY: Let me ask you about DOD [Department of Defense]. Because I know your report concludes that DOD officials believed nearly from the onset that this was a terrorist attack and not some sort of a protest gone awry. Now, I want to get specific, because so many people have said, 'So then why did Susan Rice go out and talk about protests? Why did she mention a video?' But the CIA talking points, the very first draft that went out and was circulated, that Susan Rice ultimately was provided, that top officials ultimately saw, talked about a protest. They did. The CIA actually came out, I want to look at it here, and said this is a draft from September 14th, 11:15 am, 'We believe based on currently available information that the attacks in Benghazi were spontaneously inspired by the protests at the embassy in Cairo and evolved into a direct assault.' So, tell me, does that -- does it or does it not answer the question about how our officials started to come out and talk about protests and the video?
Right-wing media jumped to defend businesses' right to game the system and fire employees merely to avoid the obligation of providing them with health insurance.
On February 10 the IRS announced that it would delay the health insurance employer mandate for medium-sized businesses employing between 50 and 99 people until 2016. Smaller businesses -- those with 49 employees or fewer -- are not required to provide all workers with health insurance. To prevent employers from simply firing workers in order to avoid the obligation to provide health coverage in the next couple years, the IRS included a safeguard: If these businesses fire workers, they must show they did so for "bona fide business reasons" in order to be eligible for the delayed mandate.
In other words, as Washington Post's Wonkblog explained, "'It's simply so they don't game the system,' one senior administration official told reporters on a phone call this afternoon. 'They have to certify they're not doing that and not dropping their coverage.'"
Preventing employers from firing workers merely in order to game the system may seem like common sense, but not to conservative media. Outlets like Fox News immediately lambasted the safeguard as "Orwellian," while The Wall Street Journal blamed the health care law for forcing businesses to fire employees:
Either Obamacare is ushering in a worker's paradise, in which case by the White House's own logic exempting businesses from its ministrations is harming employees. Or else the mandate really is leading business to cut back on hiring, hours and shifting workers to part-time as the evidence in the real economy suggests.
On the February 10 edition of Fox's The Kelly File, Fox News' Megyn Kelly scoffed at the idea that employers shouldn't be permitted to fire workers merely to avoid giving them health insurance:
KELLY: That is the government telling you, employers, 'you will not fire a single person, you will not lay off a single person if you want to take advantage of our gift, and you have to certify under penalty of perjury to the IRS that you didn't do that, that no layoff was due to Obamacare.'
Wow, so now, if a small business employer wants to lay off a person under pain of perjury he has to convince people at the IRS that he's not doing it because of Obamacare.
Right-wing media have sunk to new lows in smears against President Barack Obama's nominee to head the Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division, former NAACP Legal Defense Fund (LDF) top official Debo Adegbile, a highly-qualified and widely praised civil rights litigator who has been senior counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
From the January 22 edition of Fox News' The Kelly File:
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From the January 18 edition of MSNBC's Disrupt with Karen Finney:
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From the January 16 edition of Fox News' The Kelly File:
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