Fox News allowed the president of Koch brothers-funded Generation Opportunity, which has created a series of anti-Obamacare ads, to characterize the organization as "independent" and funded by "a variety of donors."
On the December 9 edition of Fox News' On The Record, host Greta Van Susteren played a new attack ad from Generation Opportunity, which encouraged young Americans to "opt out" of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). After providing Generation Opportunity President Evan Feinberg a platform to promote his organization and attack the ACA, Van Susteren asked, "Where do you get the money," specifically inquiring whether Generation Opportunity is funded by any "influential group." Feinberg maintained that Generation Opportunity is "an independent organization":
VAN SUSTEREN: Where do you get the money, because that looked like a pretty expensive ad. Where do you get the money?
FEINBERG: Oh, we've got a variety of donors, and we're just focused on working with people across the country who care deeply about helping our generation to fight for our own freedom.
VAN SUSTEREN: I guess I ask why, you know, I'm wondering if there is some very influential group that funds you and sort of, that, as a consequence you've got to take some marching orders from some other group, or how independent are you?
FEINBERG: Oh no, we're an independent organization that's able to fight for our peers and you see these ads are really creative opportunities to very inexpensively reach millions of young people.
Over a period of several days, Fox News hosts and contributors demanded that Rev. Al Sharpton condemn a series of "knockout" attacks that have occurred in several cities. Sharpton condemned the attacks in a speech on Saturday, but Fox has so far failed to report on the condemnation.
The so-called "knockout game" involves young men attacking random people on the street. The violent, unprovoked attacks have sometimes resulted in death. Fox News has intensely covered these attacks, reporting on them largely as racially motivated crime committed by black youths against white victims.
Media fell for another misleading leak from the House Oversight Committee when they hyped allegations that the Obama administration ignored HealthCare.gov security warnings -- though the warnings were for a portion of the site that will not be operational until early 2014.
On November 11, a CBS News report cited selectively leaked partial transcripts from Affordable Care Act (ACA) opponent Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) to claim that "the project manager in charge of building the federal health care website was apparently kept in the dark about serious failures in the website's security." The network was criticized by Maddow producer Steve Benen when he found that the warnings referenced a function of the health care website that won't be active until early 2014 and has nothing to do with the parts of the website that are currently in use. A Democratic staffer Benen talked to also said that this part of the website "will not submit or share personally identifiable information."
CBS' faulty report aired just days after the network faced widespread criticism and was forced to apologize for failing properly vet an unreliable source that was prominently featured in the network's October 27 60 Minutes report on the Benghazi attack. But CBS wasn't the only outlet to promote misleading claims from the leaked Oversight Committee transcript.
On November 11, The New York Times reported that The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services' Henry Chao, "[t]he chief digital architect for the federal health insurance marketplace," was "not aware of tests that indicated potential security flaws in the system, which opened to the public on Oct. 1," citing excerpts released by Issa. The same day, FoxNews.com claimed that Obamacare security concerns had been "withheld," but never mentioned that its story was based on a partial transcript. CNN's New Day, and Fox News' America's Newsroom and On The Record with Greta Van Susteren all ran the story on November 12. The Associated Press repeated the claim "Chao was unaware of a memo earlier that month detailing unresolved security issues" as late as November 13 -- after contradictory reports had surfaced.
The media's failure to confirm the suggestions made by partial transcripts from the House Oversight Committee is a significant oversight, considering the committee chairman Darrell Issa's history of releasing misleading material the press.
Hill reporter Elise Viebeck shot down Fox News' continued attempt to scapegoat undocumented immigrants for improper Medicare payments, disputing the claim that undocumented immigrants were willingly involved in defrauding the federal government of millions of dollars.
On October 30, the Office of Inspector General at the Department of Health and Human Services released a report finding that from 2009 through 2011, Medicare inappropriately paid out $29 million in drug benefits for undocumented immigrants.
The report explained that the payments were made erroneously because the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services does not have a policy in place to screen undocumented immigrants from receiving benefits under its drug prescription plan, Medicare Part D.
But Fox News seized on the report to pile false attacks on undocumented immigrants and smear them, using dehumanizing terms like "illegal aliens."
Discussing the OIG report on Fox News' On The Record, Viebeck refuted host Greta Van Susteren's suggestion that CMS was "knowingly" paying insurance companies for Medicare drug benefits to undocumented immigrants. Viebeck noted that CMS "didn't have policies in place that would have caught" undocumented immigrants and "vetted them one by one in terms of their immigration status."
VIEBECK: The way Medicare Part D works is, people have their plans offered through a private insurance company, and then those insurance companies bill the federal government. And so, the federal government was effectively paying insurance companies on behalf of patients that apparently the insurance companies hadn't vetted extensively enough. They thought they might have been eligible for Medicare, but they weren't because they're illegal immigrants.
Viebeck went on to say that "these are not individual immigrants who are trying to defraud the federal government. This all happens through insurance companies. It's basically one gigantic error."
After CBS News ran a deceptive segment highlighting a Florida woman's increased health care costs, Fox News reportedly contacted the woman to appear on three of its shows. CBS has run several misleading segments on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) since the implementation of the law's exchanges.
On CBS' This Morning, political correspondent Jan Crawford highlighted the story of Dianne Barette, a Florida woman who received notice that her plan did not meet the ACA's minimum coverage requirements. In the segment, Crawford said Barette "pays $54 a month. The new plan she's being offered would run $591 a month, ten times more than what she currently pays." According to the Washington Post's media blogger Erik Wemple, after the CBS story aired, Barette was contacted by three Fox News shows, Fox & Friends, Your World with Neil Cavuto, and On The Record with Greta Van Susteren.
Wemple, who also interviewed Barrette, pointed out a detail the CBS report failed to mention: in addition to being inadequate, the coverage Barrette currently receives doesn't cover hospitalizations, something that "could well have bankrupted Barrette under her current insurance." From Wemple's article:
More coverage may provide a deeper understanding of the ins and outs of Barrette's situation: Her current health insurance plan, she says, doesn't cover "extended hospital stays; it's not designed for that," says Barrette. Well, does it cover any hospitalization? "Outpatient only," responds Barrette. Nor does it cover ambulance service and some prenatal care. On the other hand, says Barrette, it does cover "most of my generic drugs that I need" and there's a $50 co-pay for doctors' appointments. "It's all I could afford right now," says Barrette.
In sum, it's a pray-that-you-don't-really-get-sick "plan." When asked if she ever required hospitalization, Barrette says she did. It happened when she was employed by Raytheon, which provided "excellent benefits." Ever since she left the company and started working as an independent contractor, "I haven't been hospitalized since then, thank God." Hospitalization is among the core requirements for health-care plans under Obamacare.
From the October 23 edition of Fox News' On the Record with Greta Van Susteren:
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Fox News is using falsehoods to discredit an immigration reform rally that took place on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., claiming that activists were given preferential treatment by the Obama administration to stage their protest while parks remain closed. In fact, the National Park Service made it clear a week before the protest that First Amendment activities on the Mall and at Memorial Parks would be exempt from closures.
In recent days, a series of planned anti-government rallies involving truckers protesting on the Capital Beltway has produced widespread press coverage and been given a publicity boost by Fox News and Glenn Beck. Though the organizers and participants have been presented by conservative media as salt-of-the-earth people with constitutional objections to President Obama and members of Congress, the event is actually being organized by a fringe conspiracy theorist.
Zeeda Andrews -- a co-organizer of the effort who made October 8 appearances on Fox News and Glenn Beck's The Blaze to promote the event -- apparently thinks that President Obama and Osama bin Laden are somehow the same person; that Obama is a secret Muslim; that the Boston bombings were a "false flag"; that the CIA murdered Buzzfeed journalist Michael Hastings; and that the Department of Homeland Security is stockpiling ammunition in order to slaughter Americans.
On her Facebook page, Andrews identifies as a fan of two 9-11 conspiracy theory movies, a documentary that postulates that the government may be secretly injecting aluminum into the atmosphere to block the sun's rays, and a film based on the lectures of British conspiracy theorist David Icke, who believes a secret race of lizard people run the world. (Radio host Peter Santilli, who has appeared in press reports as a spokesperson for the event, is also a 9-11 conspiracy theorist. Santilli made news earlier this year when he suggested Hillary Clinton should be "shot in the vagina" for treason.)
The "Truckers Ride for the Constitution" series of planned rallies received widespread attention earlier this week when Earl Conlon, a man purporting to speak for the event, told US News & World Report that the truckers planned to circle the Beltway and arrest members of Congress for their supposed "treason." (After the organizers of the event distanced themselves from Conlon, he later walked back his suggestion that the truckers were going to "arrest" anyone.) According to the group, 3,000 truckers will participate in the Washington, D.C. rally between October 11 and 13.
Andrews was hosted on Fox News' On the Record with Greta Van Susteren last night and provided with a platform to plug the event, which she explained is "peaceful" and will not seek to engage in any unlawful behavior. According to Andrews, the goal of the event is to remove Obama from office, because he "is a threat to our national security. He is a threat to our way of life. He is a threat to our future generations." (The event has also been publicized on Fox Nation, Drudge Report, and websites like WND.)
Glenn Beck also hosted Andrews last night. In an article on Beck's website about her appearance, Andrews is identified as one of "two hardworking Americans who are standing up for what they believe is right." During the interview, on-screen text repeatedly featured the website for the event.
But rather than merely having reasonable objections to the government supposedly grounded in the Constitution, a review of Andrews' Facebook and Youtube pages reveals a penchant for believing extraordinary conspiracy theories about President Obama and the government.
Fox News host Greta Van Susteren admitted that the network may have taken the Cleveland Clinic medical center's decision to cut jobs out of context after Fox repeatedly hyped the story to demonize the Affordable Care Act.
Reuters reported on September 18 that the Cleveland Clinic medical center announced plans to reduce its staff and budget in order to prepare for the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare. Fox News repeatedly hyped the news as evidence that the ACA destroys jobs.
However, even the Cleveland Clinic itself didn't buy into Fox's narrative. The Atlantic reached out to the Cleveland Clinic and found that Eileen Sheil, the clinic's Executive Director of Corporate Communications, "seemed a bit confused by the emphasis on Obamacare" in the media coverage of the center's actions. Sheil told the publication, "We've been working on reducing costs for years ... We felt health-care reform was absolutely necessary." The Atlantic explained (emphasis added):
Actually, much of what the Cleveland Clinic system is doing follows the recommendations of health-care analysts closely. For example, it has consolidated closely located neonatal intensive care units, because high volumes tend to lead to better results. It's working to reduce the number of procedures its staff performs, since in the current system "physicians are rewarded to do more, not to do the right thing for the patient," as Sheil put it. And there's a new focus on chronic diseases, which are an increasingly important and costly area for treatment.
Think of it this way: These are all steps that the Cleveland Clinic was likely to take, but Obamacare implementation is acting as a catalyst, spurring the clinic to adopt them now rather than on a slower timeline.
Yet Fox's flawed reporting made its way to at least one member of Congress. On the September 24 edition of Fox News' On The Record, U.S. Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) told Van Susteren of the ACA, "The Cleveland Clinic announced this week they are laying off many employees. They're cutting $300 million of expenses because of the implementation -- because of the health care law."
Van Susteren then admitted to the network's misleading reporting on the clinic, telling the senator, "I don't know if Toby Cosgrove, who's the CEO, whether he's backpedaling or not, but I talked to him a couple hours later and he sort of thought that we were taking a little bit out of context what he meant."
Much of Fox's coverage of the implementation of the ACA has been rife with misinformation. As Sen. Barrasso illustrated, Fox's misleading reporting can often influence members of Congress. Fox recently managed to help the House of Representatives push through massive cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (also known as food stamps) and once aided an Alex Jones conspiracy theory in getting a hearing in Congress.
From the September 24 edition of Fox News' On the Record with Greta Van Susteren:
Dr. Ben Carson, a surgeon who criticized President Obama over health care policy at the 2013 National Prayer Breakfast, was heavily promoted by Fox News for his conservative views before flaming out following controversial statements regarding gay marriage. But after news broke that a political action committee (PAC) had been formed to draft him to run for president, On The Record with Greta Van Susteren invited Carson on and asked him the "best reason" he should be president. Carson responded with what sounded suspiciously like a stump speech.
On August 22, Politico reported that a PAC had been registered as the "National Draft Ben Carson for President Committee." According to Politico, the group was formed to urge "the neurosurgeon and Obamacare critic to throw his hat into the ring for 2016." That night, Fox's Greta Van Susteren hosted Carson to get his reaction. But first, Van Susteren asked Carson to "tell us, what would be the best reason for Dr. Ben Carson to be president and what would be the not-so best idea." Carson responded by mentioning several times how he has traveled the country and spoken to "enormous" crowds about how America needs "common sense" and "somebody who can create a vision."
Carson insisted that he was reluctant to run for president, an act which itself has become a signal of presidential ambitions. Speculation about Carson's plans are even stronger when placed in context of his 2012 book, recent speaking engagements, and television appearances.
Carson was widely promoted by Fox News as a new conservative leader and possible 2016 contender after he criticized President Obama during his keynote address at the 2013 National Prayer Breakfast, where Carson made conservative arguments about health care, tax policy, and the national debt. The hosts of Fox & Friends attempted to recruit him to run for president. Sean Hannity asked Carson directly if he would run for president, before declaring, "I would vote for you in a heartbeat." Hannity even devoted an hour-long show to promoting Ben Carson as the man who is "saving America." This campaign for Carson eventually prompted Fox's Eric Bolling to criticize conservatives for "desperately" pushing him to run.
While Fox has often attempted to rehabilitate conservative candidates and media figures -- most recently former Fox employee and Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R), Carson may be unique in that the comments that got him in trouble came out of his frequent Fox appearances. While making the rounds on the network, Carson stumbled into controversy when he compared marriage equality advocates to supporters of pedophilia and bestiality, later both apologizing and attacking his critics. Carson's own colleagues at Johns Hopkins University called his remarks "nasty, petty, and ill-informed," and he was ultimately forced to step down as a 2013 commencement speaker at Johns Hopkins.
Fox has a history of heavily promoting its own hand-picked candidates. The network has advocated at various points for the election of Sarah Palin, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Scott Brown, New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, and Pinal County (AZ) Sheriff Paul Babeu.
A day after a Democratic congressman revealed further evidence that the IRS targeted progressive groups, Fox News is still ignoring the story by continuing to suggest that the IRS targeted only conservative groups.
The August 20 edition of On the Record and the August 21 edition of Fox & Friends both highlighted a lawsuit filed against the IRS that seeks to review the agency's guidelines for determining whether an organization deserves tax-exempt status, following reports that the agency inappropriately imposed extra scrutiny on conservative organizations. But in neither of the segments, which together devoted a total of six minutes to the topic, did Fox find the time to mention the fact that new evidence released August 20 effectively ends the IRS "scandal" the network has been hyping for months.
On August 20, Salon reported that the new documents reinforced evidence proving the IRS targeted progressive groups as well:
We already know that the IRS targeted progressive groups in addition to Tea Party ones, but new information released today adds further details, showing that the tax agency also targeted "ACORN successors" and left-leaning "Emerge" groups. Emerge Nevada, Emerge Maine and Emerge Massachusetts were the only groups to have their applications actually denied 501(c)4 tax-exempt status. Conservative groups had their applications delayed, in some cases for over a year, but not rejected outright.
Democrats say the new information should put to rest any lingering embers of the IRS scandal. "This new information should put a nail in the coffin of the Republican claims that the IRS's actions were politically motivated or were targeted at only one side of the political spectrum," said Elijah Cummings, the Maryland Democrat who is the ranking member on the House Oversight Committee.
The term "Emerge" had been redacted from an earlier version of a document released by the IRS, but was present on a newer version made available today. The new documents also showed that successors to ACORN, the liberal grass-roots organizing group that became a bugaboo of conservatives and that Congress defunded (again and again). The instructions on "ACORN successors" came on a BOLO (be on the lookout) list that included healthcare organizations, medical marijuana groups, newspapers, open source technology groups and other non-political organizations.
A day later, Fox News has yet to report on these revelations.
From the August 20 edition of Fox News' On the Record with Greta Van Susteren:
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For the second time in a week, Fox host Greta Van Susteren dedicated the full hour of her show, On The Record, to an interview with controversial radio host Rush Limbaugh. The hour long interview was little more than a platform for Limbaugh to ingratiate himself with the Fox audience while completely ignoring his recent controversies and the revelations of his current contractual problems with Cumulus radio.
On July 28, Politico reported that Cumulus Media, "the second-biggest broadcaster in the country," is on the verge of dropping Limbaugh from its 40 stations by the end of the year. The move comes after a year of advertisers fleeing his show following a multi-day attack on then-law student Sandra Fluke.
More recently Limbaugh was widely criticized for his remarks on race in the wake of the "not guilty" verdict in the murder trial of George Zimmerman.
On the July 16 edition of The Rush Limbaugh Show, Limbaugh claimed that he could say "Nigga' with an a" because "it's not racist." A week later Limbaugh declared "If any race of people should not have guilt about slavery, it's Caucasians." "It's time for all this white guilt to end," Limbaugh said.
Although Van Susteren asked Limbaugh for his thoughts on the trial, she failed to mention his recent inflammatory comments.
On the August 2 edition of her show, Van Susteren once again asked softball questions and offered Limbaugh a platform to attack President Obama, leftists, feminists, and the welfare state. The interview consisted of questions such as: "Why is there no enthusiasm to go after waste and fraud?", "Why do you do your job?", and "Twitter - what do you think of it?"
This was the fourth time a Limbaugh interview has aired on Fox News in the past month after only three interviews the previous three years.
From the July 31 edition of Fox News' On the Record with Greta Van Susteren:
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