Fox News' upcoming special report on Benghazi, which examines questions that have already been answered repeatedly by multiple congressional and independent investigations, is being used by Benghazi Select Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) to justify the establishment of his redundant select committee.
The special, titled "13 Hours at Benghazi" and hosted by Special Report's Bret Baier on September 5, is slated to explore "Whether or not military assistance was requested by the security team and whether orders from above hindered their response to the violence that claimed the lives of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans." A Special Report segment teased the special by highlighting the reaction of congressional lawmakers including Benghazi Select Committee Chair Gowdy, who said in a press release:
[I]n response to recent reports from security personnel on the ground in Benghazi:
"The Committee has heard of these concerns and they go to the heart of why Congress established this Committee--to determine all of the facts of what happened in Benghazi before, during and after the terrorist attack that day. We welcome the opportunity, and expect, to talk to personnel who were on the ground in Benghazi, their superiors, and anyone with relevant information related to the Benghazi terrorist attack. There are still facts to learn about Benghazi and information that needs to be explained in greater detail to the American people. And this Committee will do just that."
As the Daily Beast's Eli Lake explained, on the night of the attacks there was a 23-minute delay between the initial distress call from the diplomatic facility in Benghazi and when the CIA contractors from the nearby CIA Annex departed to rescue the Americans there. Despite suggestions from some in the intelligence community that this delay hindered their rescue effort, repeated investigations found no evidence that the CIA operatives were delayed by "orders from above," as Fox's announcement suggests.
Fox News' Special Report continued the network's attempts to push the myth that a "stand down order" was issued to American security personnel on the ground during the 2012 Benghazi attacks, a claim immediately debunked by a panelist on the show.
On the September 4 edition of Special Report, host Bret Baier aired video of his interview with three CIA security personnel who responded to the September 2012 attacks on the U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi. The interview will be featured during Fox News' special "13 Hours at Benghazi," which will air on September 5 and is based on a forthcoming book of the same name that the personnel played a role in writing. Introducing the interview, Baier asked the former security personnel about what he claimed to be "one of the most controversial questions arising from Benghazi: Was helped delayed?" Baier described the interview as a "dramatic new turn in what the Obama administration and its allies would like to dismiss as an old story."
The three CIA security personnel explained to Baier that the CIA's station chief in Benghazi told them to wait before responding to the attacks. One of the men told Baier "I assumed they were trying to coordinate us to link up with 17 February, which is the local militia."
But contrary to Baier's presentation of the story as new and "dramatic," New York Times reported in a September 4 article that the security personnel accounts made in the book "fits with the publicly known facts and chronology," explaining that U.S. officials have previously acknowledged that "the Central Intelligence Agency security team paused to try to enlist support from Libyan militia allies."
In fact, during a panel discussing Baier's interview later on the program, conservative Washington Post columnist Charles Lane explained that the delay was probably to ensure the safety of the remaining CIA security personnel and was, in fact, not controversial at all:
LANE: The person I want to hear from is Bob, the CIA guy who told them to wait. Because when we hear from Bob we'll hear why he told them to wait. What we heard from your interview was they assumed he was waiting for more support from the local militia. Which, by the way, might not be a bad reason to wait. In other words, you want to go - you don't want to rush in with just three guys into what was obviously a very, very dangerous situation. You'd want to wait to see if you could round up some more support. In other words, there's a difference between waiting and waiting for no good reason and, even worse, waiting because you were told 'we don't care what happens to the Ambassador.' I want to hear from Bob, I want to hear the CIA make him available and tell us exactly what was going on. What I'm not hearing in this is that anybody in Washington said, 'we don't care what happens to the Ambassador, write it off, stay away.'
Even panelist Steve Hayes pointed out that the House Intelligence Committee's Benghazi report "says that there was no stand down order." And Baier himself conceded that the Senate Intelligence Committee January 2014 review of the attacks "said that in fact it was working to get this February 17 militia to respond first."
The evidence that CIA operatives were not delayed by "orders from above" is overwhelming and has existed for quite some time -- but if Fox's upcoming Benghazi documentary is any indication, the network will continue its attempts to make a scandal out of the "stand down order" myth.
Media outlets are overlooking President Obama's consistent emphasis on eliminating the threat posed by the extremist group the Islamic State -- and the U.S. airstrikes against it -- to fixate on Obama's recent reference to shrinking the group's influence to a "manageable problem."
Fox News host Bret Baier raised the notion that a possible forthcoming executive order on immigration from President Obama may be government "shutdown bait."
In June, President Obama announced he was considering issuing an executive order that could allow millions of law-abiding undocumented immigrants to stay temporarily in the United States. While the specifics of the possible order are still unknown, the Washington Post reported this "could include temporary relief for law-abiding undocumented immigrants who are closely related to U.S. citizens or those who have lived in the country a certain number of years."
On the August 28 edition of Special Report with Bret Baier, host Bret Baier speculated on whether President Obama's forthcoming order was "shutdown bait," designed to encourage the Republicans into shutting down the government in retaliation:
In fact, GOP lawmakers have been floating the idea of using a budget showdown in response to an executive order on immigration. In recent days, Republican lawmakers like Sen. Marco Rubio (FL) and Rep. Steve King (IA) have talked to reporters about using the budget and government funding mechanisms to address any action Obama takes on immigration. In a statement released by The Des Moines Register, King said that an executive order on immigration "changes the dynamic of any continuing resolution":
"If the president wields his pen and commits that unconstitutional act to legalize millions, I think that becomes something that is nearly political nuclear ...," King said. "I think the public would be mobilized and galvanized and that changes the dynamic of any continuing resolution and how we might deal with that."King said if that happens, House-passed legislation on border security, including rolling back the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, order, "becomes a requirement" for a continuing resolution.
Baier's question also came a day after The Week's Marc Ambinder noted that Rubio had "hinted that this might happen," and advised Democrats to "[g]o big on immigration. Wait for the GOP counter-reaction. Quietly pray for the government to get shut down. Use it like a cattle prod to wake voters up just before the midterms."
From the August 28 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier:
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Conservative media are suggesting that the Obama administration is "working with foreigners to subvert the Constitution" by seeking a climate agreement with other nations without Senate approval, but legal experts agree that because it is not expected to be legally binding, the accord does not require Senate ratification.
Charles and David Koch, brothers and the oil barons who are already shaping the 2014 midterm elections according to recently leaked audio recordings, are often portrayed as environmentally responsible advocates of the free-market that are unfairly targeted by Democrats. However, their political influence, which benefits the fossil fuel industry and their own bottom line, is unparalleled.
Fox News' Special Report characterized former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's speaking contract requirements as outrageous, in an attempt to paint Clinton as an out of touch "diva," but Clinton's requirements are typical of contracts made by high profile politicians.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported the details of Hillary Clinton's speaking contract for her upcoming October fundraiser for the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, including Clinton's speaking fee as well as a number of stipulations ranging from private jet transportation, luxury hotel accommodations, and travel arrangements for aides.
On the August 18 edition of Fox News' Special Report, host Bret Baier and Fox correspondent James Rosen seized on the report to paint Hillary Clinton as a "rock star diva" with outrageous demands. Baier introduced the segment claiming "Hillary Clinton has a list of demands that critics say would make a rock star diva proud." Rosen detailed Clinton's "demands" which included a private jet, a luxury suite, and travel stipends for Clinton's aides:
Fox News segments on a method of natural gas extraction called hydraulic fracturing or "fracking" gave over five times as much airtime to guests touting the benefits of fracking as it did to one guest warning of its risks.
On August 12, Fox News aired three virtually identical segments from correspondent David Lee Miller on fracking that were conspicuously one-sided. The segments compared the economy of Pennsylvania, which has seen a recent boom in fracking, to that of the southern tier of New York, where fracking is currently under a moratorium. The segments' pro-fracking slant is clear from the outset, with Miller stating that the "key reason for the economic disparity" between the two regions is "hydraulic fracking." The segments each featured three guests to tout the benefits of fracking for a total of 21 seconds per segment, against just one guest having four seconds to explain its risks:
The segments' bias is apparent in more than just the numbers; the information presented in support of fracking was in many cases misleading.
In two of the three segments, Miller featured Gabriel Campana, Republican mayor of Williamsport, Pennsylvania, who stated, "They say for every well that's created, there's over 100 jobs." But a study from the Multi-State Shale Research Collaborative found that between 2005 and 2012, "less than four new shale-related jobs have been created for each new well," and noted that even industry-funded studies only estimate that each fracking well creates "as high as 31" jobs -- well below Campana's claim of over 100 jobs per well.
On Fox's Special Report with Bret Baier, Miller's fracking segment replaced Campana with Republican Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett (the segment was otherwise almost exactly the same) to claim that "the quality of life has tremendously increased for particularly the people in this region." The people in that region might disagree. Fracking processes have harmed over 200 privately owned bodies of water in the Pennsylvania since 2008, and the process still threatens drinking water in the region. Eugene DePasquale, auditor general of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection likened regulation of the fracking industry in his state to "trying to put out a five-alarm fire with a 20-foot garden hose."
NPR called the town of Dimock, Pennsylvania "'Ground Zero' in the fight over fracking" after dozens of families noticed high levels of natural gas contamination in their drinking water. In 2009, fifteen Dimock families filed a federal lawsuit against Cabot Oil and Gas due to drinking water contamination, including a methane build up in one resident's well that caused an explosion. Fracking sites present other safety concerns; in February a well operated by Chevron exploded killing one worker and injuring another.
Other pro-fracking guests highlighted by Fox were a New York dairy farmer who thinks fracking is vital for his farm's "economic security," and a New York county executive who stated fracking would give the state "a substantial increase in the number of jobs, a substantial increase in the investment." The sole critic was ecologist Sandra Steingraber, who was given four seconds of airtime to state that "fracking brings temporary riches to a few and permanent ruin to many."
A "fair and balanced" segment might have noted that more New Yorkers oppose hydraulic fracturing in the state than support it, or that lax fracking industry oversight has not only led to polluted water but has left "a toll of badly injured or killed workers" and poses very real risks to the southern tier of New York.
From the August 12 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier:
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A Fox News report failed to disclose that an anti-Obamacare doctor featured objecting to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is running for state representative as a Republican in New Hampshire.
Continuing Fox's campaign to boost anti-Obama candidates in New Hampshire, including former Fox contributor Scott Brown, an August 8 Special Report segment highlighted the story of Dr. Joe Hannon, who was purportedly driven out of practice due to the ACA. During an interview with Fox, Dr. Hannon claimed, "The health care act was the final nail in the coffin. It wasn't the main reason or the only reason, but it made the decision a lot easier for me."
Fox News pundits questioned President Obama's engagement in world affairs following a press conference in which the president announced historic investments in Africa and took questions from journalists on a wide range of pressing international and domestic issues.
Fox News contributor Charles Krauthammer chastised House Republicans for their "ridiculous" flip-flopping in the span of a day on their outrage over President Obama's executive actions.
On July 31, Republican House Speaker John Boehner tabled a bill promoted by House leadership aimed at addressing the crisis of undocumented youths at the U.S.-Mexico border, after which he and other Republican House leaders issued a statement saying, "There are numerous steps the president can and should be taking right now, without the need for congressional action." But the day prior, the House approved a Republican plan to sue Obama for allegedly exceeding his constitutional authority by going around Congress to implement certain policies.
Krauthammer said on the July 31 edition of Fox News' Special Report that House Republicans' failure to act on the border crisis was "incomprehensible," calling out "so-called conservatives" who successfully advocated against the bill (emphasis added):
KRAUTHAMMER: The disarray among Republicans makes you pine for the days of earmarks and the rack. That would be one or the other way to get these guys lined up. It is, to me, incomprehensible that Republicans aren't getting together on this -- so-called conservatives opposing the bill. It's very simple. There are two things Americans agree on. You want to help the helpless kids, the ones who are already here in some way, and the appropriation of this bill is not at all extravagant. And the other thing is you want to stop the influx. We all know how that's done, even the president agreed to it originally until he caved in to his left wing and came out against it. That is, you change the '08 law in a very simple way -- two lines. You simply say anybody who enters illegally through the Mexican border will be treated under the law the way Canadians and Mexicans are today. End of story. You do that and you've shown good faith. I agree with Ron, there's not a chance in hell that the Senate will come back or the president will sign it, but at least the Republicans will have shown that they can do something.
It is ridiculous to sue the president on a Wednesday because he oversteps the law, as he has done a dozen times illegally and unconstitutionally, and then on a Thursday say that he should overstep the law, contradict the law that passed in 2008 and deal with this himself.
From the July 30 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier:
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A Fox News segment displayed a misleading chart based on a poll that appeared to show 110 percent of Americans disapproved of President Obama's job performance.
On the July 30 edition of Special Report, the following chart was shown during a report by Fox News political correspondent Carl Cameron on Obama's popularity in the "twelve states most likely to decide Senate control":
Without showing the number of likely voters who approve of Obama's job performance, viewers are left with the impression that more than 100 percent of respondents disapprove of the president's job performance. Watch: