Three Fox hosts have allowed Congressman Allen West (R-FL) to repeat his unsubstantiated allegations that election official wrongdoing led to his failing bid to retain his seat. The Fox hosts not only failed to push back on West's legally unfounded position, but neglected to report that these complaints are about Florida election system problems that have been ignored or exacerbated by the state GOP.
In support of his refusal to concede the race to represent Florida's 18th Congressional District - despite the fact that the state has already certified Democrat Patrick Murphy's victory - West has been complaining that "irregularities" in county officials' performance during the ballot tabulation process, the change in voting tallies as the tabulation proceeded, the outcome of a partial recount, and the accounting of more ballots than voters, requires another partial recount of all votes cast during the early voting period. On the November 12 edition of Fox's Hannity, West made all of these accusations to host Sean Hannity, who responded that he thought a vote shift away from West to Murphy during the counting process was "unbelievable."
West repeated these claims to Fox host Greta Van Susteren on the November 13 edition of On The Record, and again on November 14 in a recorded interview with Fox host Martha MacCallum for America's Newsroom. Like Hannity, these Fox hosts did not press West on his insinuations of election malfeasance. The most obvious example was Van Susteren, who referenced West's second lawsuit filed in a Florida state court seeking an early vote recount in defiance of state law, but made no mention of his first failed lawsuit. That lawsuit, which also sought to "count paper ballots and to impound voting machines," had been denied on November 9 by a state judge. In addition to noting that West's motion had "woefully failed to establish a proper demand for injunction," the judge scolded West for contesting the election results in court when "the Supreme Court of Florida 30 years ago has said the courts should not get involved in the election process under facts and circumstances which we have here today."
More significantly, Hannity, Van Susteren, and MacCallum all failed to report that West's unsubstantiated complaints about the dysfunctional Florida election process is partly attributable to recent voter suppression efforts. As reported by the Orlando Sentinel, the incoming Republican House Speaker has already "conceded" that Florida's difficult election process and its "embarrass[ing]" irregularities may have been caused by early voting and registration changes pushed through by Republicans in the state legislature. In conjunction with budget cuts that targeted county election offices, recent GOP attempts to restrict opportunities for voting resulted in the predictable and widely reported chaos that West now complains about.
The swing in vote tallies, however, is an old problem and one that none of the Fox hosts addressed. Not only is West complaining about a losing margin more than three times that of Gore's for the entire state of Florida in the presidential election of 2000, West is also complaining about a swing in votes from himself to Murphy that is only about a quarter of the infamous Volusia County swing in votes away from Gore for Bush. Further, the optical-scan voting machines at the center of West's complaints are of the same make as those used in Volusia in 2000, as reported by election integrity expert and Salon contributor Brad Friedman, but that important context was absent from Fox's segments on the issue.
The make of the voting machines is also relevant to West's challenge of the partial recount of early votes in St. Lucie County. The election supervisor there has already explained the partial recount of some votes was necessary because of an electronic memory cartridge failure. Hannity, Van Susteren, and MacCullum not only failed to report this fact, they also failed to report such memory cartridge failure is an extremely common problem in Florida, as was extensively detailed by the Daytona Beach News-Journal.
Finally, the discrepancy between voters and votes tallied that West references has already been explained by multiple outlets as a consequence of tabulation machines erroneously counting two-page individual ballots as multiple ballots. This too was unreported by Fox News as it continues to give Allen West a platform to advance his unproven reasons for refusing to concede, without challenging the problems with his claims and providing the necessary context of a Florida election system badly in need of reform.
From the October 31 edition of Fox News' On the Record with Greta Van Susteren:
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From the October 24 edition of Fox News' On the Record with Greta Van Susteren:
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Fox host Greta Van Susteren claimed that recently released State Department emails prove that the Obama administration knew the attack in Benghazi, Libya, was an act of terrorism as it was happening and that it was "ridiculous" for the administration to link the attack to an anti-Islam video. Yet the emails show only that the State Department was aware that an Islamist militia had taken credit for the attack, and other reporting has indicated that the anti-Islam video did, in fact, play a role in the attack.
In the second presidential debate, moderator Candy Crowley corrected Mitt Romney after he falsely claimed that President Obama had waited 14 days to describe the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Libya as an act of terror. In the two days after the debate, Fox News aired 55 segments, totaling more than four hours, that attempted to portray Obama's reference to "acts of terror" as a general statement or as referring to another incident.
Conservative media outlets pushed at least eleven misleading attacks on President Obama's energy policies that have become talking points used by Mitt Romney's campaign. The conservative media bubble has largely prevented voters from hearing the facts about clean energy programs, fossil fuel production and environmental regulation under the Obama administration.
TransCanada Corp. recently announced that it has temporarily shut down the existing portion of its Keystone pipeline due to safety concerns. Fox News figures previously attacked the Obama administration for delaying a decision on the Keystone pipeline extension because of environmental and safety concerns, claiming that the project posed no such threats.
Fox News' Stuart Varney and Charles Krauthammer have accused the Obama administration of breaking the law for advising federal contractors not to issue warnings of layoffs that may occur in the wake of budget "sequestration." But the administration is in fact correctly following the WARN Act, which explicitly disallows blanket notices to all Department of Defense (DOD) contractors before Congress specifies what contracts are to be cancelled.
The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act requires federal contractors to inform their employees of the impending loss of their jobs 60 days prior to layoffs. Both Varney and Krauthammer misrepresent the law's requirements by arguing DOD contractors must issue sequestration layoff warnings before the presidential election, contrary to the legal advice of the Department of Labor (DOL), Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and independent experts. In fact, because budget cuts mandated by sequestration are not currently specified and would not take place immediately, WARN Act layoff warnings would be inappropriate at this juncture and are not "the law...written in stone," as erroneously asserted by Varney on the October 2 edition of America's Newsroom, nor is the administration's position "absolutely lawless," as claimed by Krauthammer on the October 2 edition of Special Report.
As explained by the nonpartisan Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), under the Budget Control Act of 2011, Congress' inability to negotiate a long-term budget plan triggers "sequestration -- a form of automatic cuts that apply largely across the board -- [which] is now scheduled to occur starting in January 2013 and to cover the period through 2021." The CBPP has also pointed out that these automatic cuts to the federal budget include unspecified cuts to DOD spending -- including payments to defense contractors - which even after sequestration is formally triggered, would not be clear until months later. According to CBPP, "[w]hile the limit on spending authority will be imposed at the beginning of the year, the actual reductions in spending will occur over the course of the year and into subsequent fiscal years."
Therefore, as The New York Times has reported, "no one knows what 'sequestration,' the term for the automatic cuts, will look like, not lawmakers, not the military." Contractors are even more unlikely to know what the cuts will look like, as they won't be alerted by their agency until after Congress acts in January. Because no one knows which programs will be cut, and thus, which employees will be laid off when -- or if -- sequestration occurs, defense contractors cannot send out notices to those affected without notifying their entire workforce, a type of blanket alarm explicitly disallowed by the WARN Act.
From the October 2 edition of Fox News' On The Record with Greta Van Susteren:
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Right-wing media have pushed numerous myths about the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, and protests in the Middle East, from distorting the Obama administration's response to the attacks to misleading about the nature of security at the Benghazi consulate.
Fox News hosts accused President Obama and his administration of perpetuating a "cover-up" of the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. But the Obama administration is conducting an investigation into the attack, the State Department is setting up an independent panel to investigate it, and the director of the National Counterterrorism Center has testified about the attacks to a congressional committee.
Fox News is hyping non-controversial comments by President Obama to suggest that he is a closet extremist.
Echoing an attack by Mitt Romney, several Fox personalities attacked Obama for saying in 1998 that he supports government spending in order to "make sure that everybody's got a shot." These Fox personalities suggested that Obama's views were more troubling than Mitt Romney's disparagement of the 47 percent of Americans he says are "dependent upon government."
But as The Washington Post's Greg Sargent pointed out, Obama's comments are completely uncontroversial. Indeed, even Romney said yesterday that he believes in "government caring for those in need." Sargent explained:
Maybe someone can explain how we can pay for "government caring for those in need" without "taking from some to give to others." How do you pay for a safety net without redistribution? (Behind closed doors, of course, Romney is far harsher about "those in need.")
Here is the full 1998 Obama quote that Romney and Republicans are casting as pro "redistribution":
"The trick is figuring out how do we structure government systems that pool resources and hence facilitate some redistribution. Because I actually believe in redistribution, at least at a certain level, to make sure that everybody's got a shot."
In other words, this is not meaningfully different from what Obama has said thousands of times.
But Fox nevertheless eagerly jumped on the Romney talking point that Obama is an extremist who supports redistribution.
From the September 18 edition of Fox News' On the Record with Greta van Susteren:
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When video of Mitt Romney dismissing 47 percent of American voters surfaced this afternoon, many media outlets found the surprising video newsworthy. Fox News, however, buried the remarks until forced to cover Romney's follow-up press conference late in the evening.
Today at 4 pm EDT, Mother Jones released secretly-taped footage of the Republican presidential candidate speaking at a private fundraiser, where Romney declared to donors that his job is "not to worry about" the 47 percent of Americans who pay no income taxes, since they will "vote for the president no matter what." He described these voters as people who "believe they are victims" and believe they are entitled to "housing" and "food," among other things.
ROMNEY: There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that's an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what.
And I mean the president starts off with 48, 49 -- he starts off with a huge number. These are people who pay no income tax. Forty-seven percent of Americans pay no income tax. So our message of low taxes doesn't connect. So he'll be out there talking about tax cuts for the rich. I mean, that's what they sell every four years.
And so, my job is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.
Even then, in a segment during On the Record, Fox declined to show the actual footage of Romney at the fundraiser, or even quote from his statements. Instead, only Romney's press conference defending his remarks was aired.
Right-wing media have responded to the attacks in Libya and Egypt by pointing fingers at President Obama, saying his policies are to blame. Conservative media figures are also amplifying blame by harping on the accusation that Obama does not attend daily intelligence briefings in person; in fact, Obama receives national security briefings in other ways throughout his day.