Even some Fox News hosts are having trouble containing their skepticism with the Republican demand to defund Obamacare as their price for passing a bill to fund the government.
This morning House Republicans passed a continuing resolution that would continue to fund the government but defund Obamacare. Senate Republicans have criticized the House strategy as foolhardy and President Obama has promised to veto any bill defunding his signature legislation.
Around the time the House was voting, Fox News host Gregg Jarrett was trying in vain to get Monica Crowley to accept that this Republican effort to risk a government shutdown was ill-advised and ill-fated, at times seeming to beg the Fox contributor to see reason.
Jarrett kicked off the discussion by explaining that the public would pin blame for a shutdown squarely on Republicans and wondering why the GOP would pursue this possibly "very destructive" strategy:
Monica, I looked at three different polls today. They all say the same thing. That is, as unpopular -- and it is -- as Obamacare is, they don't want the government shut down because of a defunding effort. And moreover, if it does happen, they by large margins will blame Republicans. They'll side with the president. So why are the Republicans pursuing what is arguably a very destructive, unwise strategy?
From the September 18 edition of Fox News' America Live:
From the September 17 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
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Fox Business is crying foul over Environmental Protection Agency-hosted climate change lesson plans, which it calls "propaganda." However, the material is aligned with the National Research Council, reflects the view of the overwhelming majority of climate scientists, and covers many topics that conservative media have flagrantly misreported in the past.
The lesson plans, which have been available online to middle school educators for months, drew conservative ire after a tweet from the EPA appeared on Fox contributor Michelle Malkin's social media aggregation site, Twitchy.com, on September 12. By the next morning, it was considered big enough news that Fox News contributor Monica Crowley covered it on Varney & Company, asking, "Are they going to tell these kids to not exhale? Because every time you exhale, that's carbon dioxide."
Equally uncontroversial is the view that industrial activities -- particularly the burning of fossil fuels for energy -- have led to a surplus of life-supporting gases like carbon dioxide, which has made the planet hotter -- too hot, in fact. Even many prominent climate deniers acknowledge this much.
It is no surprise that the EPA's lesson plans are grounded in good, basic science; they were adapted from material designed by preeminent scientific institutions including the National Center for Atmospheric Research, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The material is also aligned with the National Research Council's National Science Education Standards.
Fox figures would do well to take a look at these plans. Here are three issues they cover that have proven tricky for them in the past:
From the August 21 edition of Fox News' Hannity:
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The right-wing media have hyped and distorted a decision to keep congressional staffers on their existing health care plan to accuse the Obama administration of acting with the "whims of a dictatorship."
After the Obama administration agreed to fix a legislative conflict that would have forced congressional staffers off their current health care coverage and into the Affordable Care Act exchanges, the right-wing media accused President Obama of "exempting" Congress from the law. On Fox News' America's Newsroom, co-host Bill Hemmer claimed Obama "personally intervened to make sure that members of Congress and their staffers will not have to live with Obamacare," later saying the decision "is like the oligarchs." Fox contributor Monica Crowley said the decision "is like the whims of a dictatorship." A Wall Street Journal editorial claimed the decision suggests "illegal dispensations for the ruling class, different rules for the hoi polloi."
But the decision fixed a problem that would have treated congressional employees differently from all other Americans. In the Health Affairs blog, health care expert Timothy Jost explained that "Far from exempting Congress from ACA requirements, as some have reported, the amendment subjects members to a legal requirement that will apply to no other Americans":
Fox dumped Glenn Beck after his bizarre conspiracy theories and rhetoric reportedly caused the network's advertisers to balk. Now Fox appears to be clinging to one of his classic distortions, characterizing a government effort utilizing behavioral psychology to reduce fraud, error and debt as "mind control."
FoxNews.com reported that it obtained a document outlining plans for the government to hire a "Behavioral Insights Team" that "will look for ways to subtly influence people's behavior." The United Kingdom has implemented several related initiatives. In one instance the U.K. government sent out reminder letters to late taxpayers, leading to increased tax revenue.
The ideas behind this type of initiative were laid out in Professor Cass Sunstein's book, Nudge. When Sunstein joined the Obama administration as the administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), Beck launched a campaign to demonize him and his ideas.
Right-wing media have baselessly smeared the White House's new Behavioral Insights Team, labeling it "propaganda," "mind control," and "Orwellian." In reality, the Behavioral Insights Team is modeled off a similar unit in Britain that has proven effective in encouraging timely tax payment and reducing energy bills and consumption.
Conservative media seized on White House plans to create a Behavioral Insights Team on July 30, when FoxNews.com obtained a document describing the program and its search for behavioral scientists.
Breitbart.com quickly jumped on the story, suggesting that the Obama administration will use the program to push a social agenda: "The Obama administration has not been shy about attempting to use its influence - or taxpayer money - to push enthusiasm for its agenda, including Obamacare, nutrition, and gay rights."
Fox stoked fears by hyping the program on multiple shows with little mention of its benefits. On the July 30 edition of Lou Dobbs Tonight, Fox Business host Lou Dobbs commented on FoxNews.com's report on the program, saying, "To many, that sounds purely like propaganda and mind control."
Even after the attack was debunked, Fox Business host Lou Dobbs has repeatedly claimed that the Department of Justice helped pay for anti-Zimmerman protests.
On the July 17 edition of his show, Dobbs criticized civil rights leader Al Sharpton for organizing 100 protests around the country in the wake of the George Zimmerman's acquittal in the death of Trayvon Martin. Guest Michael Goodwin alleged that "I wouldn't doubt that somewhere the Justice Department's going to be helping him with the tour." Dobbs responded by claiming that you know that "the Justice Department paid to help demonstrations against George Zimmerman last year":
The attack is based on the release of documents by the right-wing website Judicial Watch, which used the documents to falsely accuse the DOJ of supporting anti-Zimmerman protests. The documents released by Judicial Watch do not show that the DOJ was "organizing anti-Zimmerman rallies" -- only that a unit within the DOJ, the Community Relations Service, was providing support and technical assistance for the protests to prevent violence, not organize protests.
From the July 17 edition of Fox News' America Live:
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Fox News contributor Monica Crowley downplayed the actions of former President Richard Nixon and fabricated President Obama's White House ties to controversial actions by the Internal Revenue Service to claim that the recent controversy constitutes the "most dangerous scandal in U.S. history."
Crowley served as a foreign policy aide to Nixon after he resigned in disgrace from the presidency. Conservative media have frequently made absurd and ahistorical comparisons between Nixon and Obama that rely on ignorant interpretations of the actions of both presidents.
On the July 15 edition of Fox News' Your World, Crowley highlighted recent allegations that the IRS improperly gave heightened scrutiny to conservative groups seeking nonprofit status. Suggesting that the Obama White House must have been involved, Crowley compared those allegations unfavorably to what she claimed were the actions of Nixon, saying that while Nixon had been "talking about using the IRS to go after a political enemy," the IRS under Obama "was used for political purposes to target entire swaths of society."
Crowley's comparison is nonsensical. There is no evidence that President Obama or White House aides were involved in the alleged improper behavior, a fact that leading conservative pundits and Republican politicians have acknowledged. In fact, recent disclosures indicate that the IRS may have also targeted progressive groups, undermining the allegations that conservatives have promoted for months.
By contrast, Nixon, on tape, personally urged his attorney general to go after the income taxes of his political enemies. His White House counsel, John Dean, gave the head of the IRS an envelope of the names of Nixon's political enemies, with clear implication that his agency should investigate those individuals. Dean also devised a memorandum titled "Dealing with our political enemies," which urged the use of "the available political machinery to screw our political enemies." Other Nixon aides were involved in plots to break into the Democratic offices in the Watergate Hotel and the office of Daniel Ellsberg's psychiatrist (which occurred), and to murder journalists and firebomb the Brookings Institution (which thankfully did not).
In short, Nixon and his top aides were deeply and directly involved in massive illegality. There's no evidence Obama or his aides were involved in activity whose illegality is under question. But that's not the story former Nixon aide Crowley wants to tell.
The persistent right-wing talking point that immigration reform would bring in anywhere from 11 million to as many as 30 million new Democratic voters has definitively been exposed as a myth.
The charge, pushed by Fox News, rests on the bogus allegation that because the Senate immigration reform bill includes a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, those new citizens would then be eligible to vote for Democrats.
As Fox News contributor Michelle Malkin wrote in a syndicated column arguing that "illegal alien amnesty violates our founding principles," "Unrepentant amnesty peddlers on both sides of the aisle admit their plan is all about votes and power." She continued:
Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain continues his craven, futile chase for the Hispanic bloc. Illinois Democratic Rep. Luis Gutierrez is openly salivating at the prospect of millions of new illegal aliens -- future Democratic Party dependents of the Nanny State -- who could be eligible for Obamacare and a plethora of other government benefits despite clear prohibitions against them.
On Fox, contributor Monica Crowley echoed the argument, claiming that the Senate immigration reform bill "has nothing to do with immigration." She added: "The Democrats have played this brilliantly. This is about flooding the zone with new Democratic voters so they can get a permanent voting majority."
Fox contributors Kirsten Powers and Monica Crowley mischaracterized a Texas bill that would have limited reproductive rights by downplaying the restrictive measures in the bill, which would have closed almost all abortion-providing facilities in Texas, and repeatedly invoking convicted criminal Kermit Gosnell.
On the June 26 edition of Fox News' America Live, Megyn Kelly hosted Monica Crowley and Kirsten Powers -- both Fox News contributors -- to discuss Senate Bill 5 (SB5), a measure that failed to pass after Texas Senate Democrats held a successful filibuster.
During the segment, Powers claimed that concerns from reproductive rights groups were exaggerated, adding: "I don't think that many clinics are going to close." Crowley agreed, saying reproductive health advocates "always try to go right to hyperbole -- that women are going to have to flee to Tijuana because they're not going to have access in Texas to abortion. It's all ridiculous."
Crowley went on to claim that restrictions in SB5 were "completely reasonable" and that they were "a direct response to the horrors of the Gosnell case." She also used the story to revive the disgusting and long-debunked myth that Obama voted as a state senator to support the killing of infants who were born alive.
Because of a restriction in SB5 that would, according to Bloomberg.com, "require abortions to be done in ambulatory surgical centers by doctors with admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of their clinic," it's estimated that almost 90% of facilities that provide abortions in Texas -- the percent that do not currently meet that high threshold -- could be forced to close. The Washington Post explained how the bill would impact reproductive access by imposing requirements that only five existing centers would meet:
Fox News contributor Monica Crowley revived the smear that White House visitor records of IRS officials tie the Obama administration to the inappropriate targeting of conservative organizations, this time seizing on visitor logs for Jonathan M. Davis, the political aide to former IRS commissioner Douglas Shulman.
On June 21, Fox Nation posted a Washington Examiner article claiming Shulman's Chief of Staff Jonathan M. Davis worked "side-by-side with members of the Obama administration" and appeared to have visited the White House over 300 times. Fox's Monica Crowley used this report to claim on Fox News' Happening Now that the Obama administration gave directions to the IRS to target conservative groups. She asserted that the number of visits by the IRS commissioner and his top aide Davis is so self-evident that "it really doesn't take a rocket scientist to put all these pieces together ... Of course the direction came from the White House":
Crowley's source of information on Davis' visits was the White House public visitor records, which have proven to be an unreliable source of information on the actual number of visits made to the White House by public officials. The Washington Post explained that the White House visitors' logs "only reflect the information the White House chooses to record" and "certainly doesn't show what regular guests some Cabinet secretaries are." The Atlantic's Garance Franke-Ruta added that, in the case of Schulman, "This doesn't mean he actually went to meetings with all these folks, only that he was formally cleared for entry to meetings in which they were the point person organizing the gathering."
From the June 14 edition of Fox News' O'Reilly Factor:
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