For quite some time, right-wing media figures with comically poor prediction track records have tried to stir up trouble by claiming that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is planning to challenge President Obama for the Democratic nomination. These reports are universally similar: they are long on speculation and short on actual evidence.
It must be a slow news day, because today, seeking to push this storyline, Fox News basically fabricated the claim that during an event this morning, Clinton purportedly kicked off her fictitious campaign by attacking Obama's handling of the federal debt.
On America Live, Megyn Kelly aired a clip of Clinton saying at today's appearance at the Council on Foreign Relations, "I think that our rising debt levels poses a national security threat, and it poses a national security threat in two ways. It undermines our capacity to act in our own interest, and it does constrain us where constraint may be undesirable. And it also sends a message of weakness internationally."
This was the excuse for Kelly and Monica Crowley to engage in entirely baseless speculation about whether Clinton is, in Kelly's words, "coasting along in this role of secretary of state, watching President Obama take all the hits on the economy, maybe a tweak here or there about how his policies are undermining not just our national economy, but our international security, which she does have to worry about, and then what, she emerges in a couple of years to say 'I told you so.'" Watch:
Kelly teased this segment by asking, "Did Hillary Clinton just effectively declare her candidacy for president of the United States?" The answer, of course, is no.
Fox deceptively edited the tape of Clinton's remarks, removing essential context. In fact, she made clear in the very next paragraph that she wasn't criticizing President Obama's deficit spending; she was criticizing President Bush's. Full video and relevant transcript below (emphasis added):
CLINTON: I think that our rising debt levels poses a national security threat, and it poses a national security threat in two ways. It undermines our capacity to act in our own interest, and it does constrain us where constraint may be undesirable. And it also sends a message of weakness internationally. I mean, it is very troubling to me that we are losing the ability not only to chart our own destiny but to, you know, have the leverage that comes from this enormously effective economic engine that has powered American values and interests over so many years.
So I don't think we have a choice. It's a question of how we -- how we decide to deal with this debt and deficit. I mean, you know, it is -- we don't need to go back and sort of re-litigate how we got to where we are, but it is fair to say that, you know, we fought two wars without paying for them, and we had tax cuts that were not paid for either. And that has been a very deadly combination to fiscal sanity and responsibility.
So the challenge is how we get out of it by making the right decisions, not the wrong decisions. I mean, there's a lot of wrong things we could do that would further undermine our strength. I mean, it is going to be very difficult for those decisions.
So yes, Fox News used their typical video doctoring techniques to invent this story from nothing.
From the September 1 edition of Fox News' America Live:
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Fox News baselessly suggested that Democrats would attempt to "skew" the fall elections by exempting "battleground" states from a requirement that they ship ballots to overseas military personnel at least 45 days before the election. This manufactured controversy has completely fallen apart: The only "battleground" state (as defined by Fox News) that received an exemption has a Republican official overseeing its elections. Moreover, the waiver process is part of the law and was mentioned during the debate over the legislation, which was co-sponsored by 26 Senate Republicans.
Fox News' America Live repeatedly hosts Lou Dobbs to mislead on immigration issues, despite his history of making false and absurd claims on the issue, such grossly overestimating the number of new leprosy cases in the U.S. and blaming that distorted figure on immigrants.
Fox News falsely reported that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has instituted a new policy of only deporting unauthorized immigrants who have committed serious crimes. In fact, DHS continues to deport those who have not committed crimes, but, in an effort improve the efficiency of the removal system, the agency will dismiss cases against certain individuals who have pending visa applications and are likely to receive those visas under current law.
Fox News has harped on a waiver provision in noncontroversial legislation protecting military and overseas voters in order to suggest that the Obama administration would use that waiver process as a "political move" to help Democrats win elections, citing concerns among "some Democratic strategists" about the November midterm elections -- specifically pointing to Senate races in Colorado and Wisconsin:
Today, that story completely collapsed as the Defense Department denied the waiver requests of four states, including Wisconsin and Colorado.
From the August 26 edition of Fox News' America Live:
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On her Fox News show this afternoon, Megyn Kelly continued her innuendo campaign against the Obama Justice Department, promoting a discredited 11-day-old "accusation" by Republican activists that the DOJ isn't enforcing a law on military voting. Kelly introduced the topic by saying, "Well, two former DOJ attorneys now alleging that the Department of Justice is not enforcing the law that protects the voting rights of military men and women serving overseas. The DOJ denies that accusation, but Senator John Cornyn of Texas is demanding answers and is set to meet with officials from the Department of Justice about the matter this week."
This is totally in character for Kelly. She was the No. 1 promoter of the phony "scandal" created by J. Christian Adams, a former Justice Department attorney who left the DOJ to press his ridiculous allegation that race motivated the Obama administration to take it easy on New Black Panther Party members accused of intimidating white voters.
The accusation about military voting is being made by Adams and Eric Eversole, former DOJ attorney and adviser to the McCain campaign. They claim that the Justice Department is encouraging states to ask for a waiver of a rule that requires states to ship ballots to troops overseas at least 45 days before an election.
And that's it. That's the entirety of the evidence. Two GOP activists say that that's what the Justice Department is doing, so that's what Megyn Kelly says. (In fact, the Department of Defense must also approve waivers for delays in ballot delivery, not just the DOJ.)
From the August 3 edition of Fox News' America Live:
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Megyn Kelly complained that a television commercial promoting health care reform was paid for with "taxpayer dollars." In fact, such expenditures are hardly unusual; indeed, the Bush administration spent far more money on similar ads to promote its prescription drug plan.
The idea behind Fox News is simple -- conservative political activism masked as journalism. And, for what it's worth, Fox News tends to do an excellent job blurring the line between the two, often convincing credulous members of the mainstream press that the Murdoch network is operating as a good faith journalistic enterprise. But some bits of news are harder to spin than others, and as Megyn Kelly's segment on the Bush tax cuts this afternoon demonstrated, polling data are among the toughest.
The conceit behind Kelly's segment was that allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire for the wealthiest Americans will be bad news for Democrats, and she offered up the latest Fox News poll as evidence that the country does not want to tax the rich like the Democrats want: "I anecdotally just thought that people would support the raising of taxes, people who weren't in the so-called rich category. But take a look at this new poll, folks." But here are the poll numbers she put up, and they show that 50 percent of the country favor allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire for the wealthy or for everyone:
Faced with this uncomfortable realization, she and Stuart Varney simply continued talking as if they hadn't just seen the poll numbers that obliterated their argument. Kelly stammered away: "Just 14 percent said they'd let them expire. Just 14 percent. The vast majority -- you know, you put those numbers, or you look at those other numbers, at least, the more than not, want to keep tax cuts in place for everyone, and 36 percent say at least if you make under $250,000 you shouldn't [sic] have your tax cuts."
Varney, having also seen the very same poll numbers which show that 50 percent of Americans favor letting tax cuts for the wealthy expire, said: "You'd think if you said 'you want to tax the rich, make them pay for it?' You would think that a majority would say 'yes, tax them, that's the way to pay for it, get the deficit down.' Your poll says no, that's not what they're saying."
Now, technically, Varney's right, because 50 percent isn't a "majority." But still, he and Kelly weren't just spinning this poll, they were outright denying what it actually said as they were talking about it.
Video of the segment after the jump.
From the July 29 edition of Fox News' America Live:
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Fox News' ever-outraged anchor Megyn Kelly had a frank and serious discussion with Tom Tancredo this afternoon concerning his lunatic Washington Times op-ed calling for the impeachment of President Obama. To her credit, Kelly pushed back pretty hard on Tancredo's garbage and actually corrected him on his facts a few times, but one moment really stood out for me -- when Kelly said that Tancredo's descriptions of Obama as a "Marxist" and an "enemy of our Constitution" are "not considered helpful," asking: "Who are you hoping to convince?"
Um... Megyn? You might want to tune into your own network 'round about 5 p.m. every weekday...
UPDATE: I should point out that Kelly has previously defended Republican members of Congress who called Obama "anti-American" and "post-American," as well as the tea partiers' attacks on Obama as a socialist: "That is a short-form way of saying government is butting its way into many aspects of our lives."
Megyn Kelly has been a driving force behind Fox News' heavy promotion of the phony New Black Panther Party scandal. Kelly has been criticized for showing "hints of her political outlook" from the anchor desk and has a history of advancing right-wing smears and falsehoods.
In contrast to Fox News' repeated hyping of voter-intimidation charges against members of the New Black Panther Party during the 2008 election, a search of the Nexis database indicates that Fox News' top shows did not report on similar allegations that members of the Minutemen harassed Hispanic voters at an Arizona polling center in 2006.