Fox News figures revived the tired falsehood that President Obama and his administration neglected to acknowledge Benghazi as a terrorist attack, this time adding speculation that Hillary Clinton may have played a role in the imaginary omission.
On January 13 the House Armed Services Committee released declassified transcripts of congressional briefings on the September 11, 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya. One portion of the transcripts detailed Marine Corps Colonel George Bristol, commander of an Africa-based task force during the Benghazi attacks, testifying that at the time of the assault in Benghazi, the military considered the assault to be an attack.
That evening's Special Report presented Bristol's words as groundbreaking, suggesting they indicted both the Obama administration and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
The Weekly Standard's Steve Hayes, a Fox contributor called it "a pretty significant development" because "[f]or the president and his advisers to go out and for two weeks pretend that that wasn't the case is quite extraordinary." And NPR's Mara Liasson, also a Fox contributor, took the claims even further, wondering if Clinton "might be tied in some way to ... deciding not to call it a terrorist attack."
From the January 6 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier:
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Right-wing media have responded to a Supreme Court justice's decision to temporarily block the Affordable Care Act's (ACA) birth control mandate by falsely claiming that abortifacients are included in the coverage required by the health care law.
Right-wing media claimed opposition to the Affordable Care Act influenced the Virginia governor election despite polls that show the health reform law was an insignificant factor in the race.
Fox News regularly turns to serial misinformers and right-wing activists to analyze the Affordable Care Act. Here is a guide to Fox's health care "experts" and their history of misinformation.
From the October 1 edition of Fox News' Special Report:
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There's a growing movement of journalists and pundits who are rooting for the Republican-led impasse over government funding to result in a shutdown of government services. "I'm rooting for a shutdown and you should be too," writes Joshua Green in the Boston Globe. "Shut down the government!" cheers Todd Purdum in Politico. It's not that these writers are actually keen on causing economic disruption: they see it as the only recourse available to correcting the Republican political nihilism that keeps bringing us to the brink of crisis.
It's hard to begrudge them for what seems so cavalier a position -- we may have reached the point of political toxicity that drastic measures of this sort are the only remaining curatives. What is bothersome is the habit of conservative pundits who enable this political dynamic by recognizing the role people like Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) are playing in it, but brushing that aside and praising Cruz for exploiting it to achieve mundane, short-term political goals.
After Cruz's 21-hour non-filibuster in support of defunding Obamacare, there was widespread agreement on the left and (much of) the right that Cruz had done little beyond raising his own profile and raising the likelihood that the government would have to shut down.
Writing in Politico, National Review's Rich Lowry marveled at Cruz's speech: "After talking the talk, Ted Cruz wins." Lowry knows that Cruz's policy goals are unattainable ("farfetched to the point of absurdity") and that his politics are causing chaos in Congress at a time when it really needs to get work done, but he views that as secondary to Cruz's accomplishment of riling up conservative base voters:
The Cruz eye-rollers had plenty of occasions to roll their eyes -- perhaps no senator has caused so many colleagues to mutter under their breaths in his first eight months in the world's greatest deliberative body -- but the conservative grass roots stood up and cheered. They are desperate for gumption and imagination and, above all, fight, and Cruz delivered all three during his long, bleary-eyed hours holding forth on C-SPAN2.
We're on the precipice of shutdown because the Republicans can't get their act together, and Cruz's tactics are causing further disarray, and Cruz gets a cookie for making a small slice of the American electorate feel good about themselves?
The right is selectively quoting an Inspector General (IG) report to accuse the State Department of ignoring the recommendations from the Benghazi Accountability Review Board (ARB). In fact, the IG report noted that the State Department is making progress implementing the ARB recommendations and praised its leadership as a model for future ARB responses.
After recent reports that the Syrian government may have used chemical weapons against civilians, media figures have begun to push for U.S. military intervention in the region. But senior military leaders say that engagement could produce a negative long-term outcome.
Last month, Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, detailed possible downsides to U.S. military involvement in Syria in a letter to Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI). In addition to possible collateral damage to civilians and the loss of U.S. aircraft, Dempsey notes that a poorly planned military incursion "could inadvertently empower extremists or unleash the very chemical weapons we seek to control." Additionally, Dempsey noted that military options could cost taxpayers between $500 million to $1 billion per month.
From the August 6 edition of Special Report with Bret Baier:
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Fox News promoted climate deniers and disputed the scientific consensus that climate change exists and is man-made in response to a proposal from President Obama to lower carbon emissions that contribute to the warming of the planet.
On June 25, President Obama delivered a speech where he laid out policy proposals to combat climate change, including the regulation of carbon emissions from existing power plants. Fox News immediately reacted by hosting prominent climate deniers and dismissing the reality of climate change.
America Live host Megyn Kelly cut away from Obama's speech after several minutes, saying that Obama's assertion that "the planet is warming and human activity is contributing to it" is "not the full story." Kelly then turned to climate denier Chris Horner of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, an organization that has financial ties to the fossil fuel industry. Kelly and Horner both pushed the false notion that recent short-term temperature trends undermine the scientific consensus that climate change is ongoing.
On Special Report with Bret Baier, Fox News contributor Charles Krauthammer reacted to the speech by also pushing the idea that recent temperature trends undermine the long-term warming trend.
Your World with Neil Cavuto hosted weather forecaster and climate denier Joe Bastardi, who incorrectly claimed that Obama was wrong when he said in his speech that the "12 warmest years in recorded history have all come in the last 15 years."
Opening The Five, co-host Greg Gutfeld said climate skeptics "were right all along" and said Obama was "denying science" in his climate change speech.
And on Hannity, Fox contributor Liz Cheney dismissed the science behind climate change when she said that Obama is "using phony science to kill jobs." She continued, saying that "the science is just simply bogus."
But despite Fox's efforts to deny it, the fact is that the vast majority of climate scientists agree that climate change is occurring. Ninety-seven percent of climate scientists that publish peer-reviewed papers on the subject of climate change agree that global temperatures have risen and that "human activity is a significant contributing factor" in the rising temperatures. Eighty-four percent of scientists acknowledge that the planet is warming due to human activity, and nearly 200 scientific organizations from around the world have made public statements acknowledging that manmade climate change is real.
Fox News dishonestly dismissed a Democratic congressman's statement that the mystery of who began the IRS' inappropriate targeting of conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status has been solved.
Congressman Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the ranking Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, appeared on CNN's State of the Union on June 9 where he explained that a Cincinnati-based IRS manager told congressional interviewers that a screener under his supervision brought a tea party group's application for tax-exempt status to his attention, and that he then sent the case to a Washington office for assistance. In a letter to Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), chairman of the committee, Cummings further explained that the IRS manager "said he then instructed his team of screeners to identify similar cases" and that the manager told interviewers that "he took this action on his own." The screener under this manager's supervision was also interviewed, and he "acknowledged developing search terms" that that Inspector General's office called "inappropriate" in its report. This is consistent with the Inspector General's finding that the IRS Determinations United in Cincinnati "developed and used inappropriate criteria to identify applications from organizations with the words Tea Party in their names."
But Fox's coverage of Cummings' statement withheld all of this information from the network's viewers. Fox & Friends merely aired Cummings' conclusion on CNN that "the case is solved" before giving Virginia Attorney General and Republican candidate for governor Ken Cuccinelli a platform to air his grievances against the IRS. America's Newsroom similarly aired only Cummings' conclusion and brought on Fox contributor Stephen Hayes to comment, with Hayes also refraining from detailing what the IRS manager told interviewers while questioning why Cummings is putting so much emphasis on the manager's answers.
Fox has been pushing the discredited assertion that the White House or IRS officials in Washington drove the IRS' actions, claiming that partial transcripts of interviews with IRS employees prove that Washington was behind the inappropriate targeting, even though Republicans have admitted they lacked evidence for that. Fox also said that a former IRS commissioner's visits to the White House show that the agency was coordinating with the White House to target conservative groups, when in fact he mostly met with staffers charged with implementing the Affordable Care Act.
Fox News distorted the testimony of Attorney General Eric Holder to claim that he committed perjury before the House Judiciary Committee last week.
It was recently revealed that the Justice Department obtained a search warrant for the communications records of Fox News reporter James Rosen in an effort to track down a leaker who provided him with classified information on North Korea in 2009. On May 15, during a hearing of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA) asked Holder about the warrant and the potential for prosecuting journalists accused of publishing classified information that they obtained from government sources. Holder responded (emphasis added):
With regard to the potential prosecution of the press for the disclosure of material. That is not something that I've ever been involved in, heard of, or would think would be a wise policy.
On May 24, the Justice Department released a statement clarifying Holder's involvement in the approval process for the warrants in question (emphasis added):
"The Department takes seriously the First Amendment right to freedom of the press. In recognition of this, the Department took great care in deciding that a search warrant was necessary in the Kim matter, vetting the decision at the highest levels of the Department, including discussions with the Attorney General. After extensive deliberations, and after following all applicable laws, regulations and policies, the Department sought an appropriately tailored search warrant under the Privacy Protection Act. And a federal magistrate judge made an independent finding that probable cause existed to approve the search warrant."
Fox News' Special Report on May 24 argued that these statements were inconsistent and concluded that the Attorney General had previously lied to the Judiciary Committee and thus had committed perjury. Host Shannon Bream began the show stating, "It's his story, but he's not sticking to it," claiming that Holder has "chang[ed] his tune" on his involvement in the scrutiny of journalists. Contributor Steve Hayes claimed that Holder's two statements were "incongruent" and Charles Krauthammer speculated that it may be "a case of perjury."
In fact, the statements are not "incongruent" whatsoever. Holder's comments to the Judiciary referred to the possibility of prosecuting journalists for publishing classified information, but that is not the crime the Justice Department's warrant accused Rosen of committing. DOJ investigators were concerned with Rosen's solicitation of classified information, not any subsequent publication of it. Wired explained (emphasis added):
According to the affidavit (.pdf), FBI Agent Reginald Reyes told the judge there was probable cause to believe that Rosen had violated the Espionage Act by serving "as an aider, abettor and/or co-conspirator" in the leak. The Espionage Act is the same law that former Army intelligence analyst Bradley Manning is accused of violating when he leaked information to the secret-spilling site WikiLeaks.
To support his assertion, Reyes quoted an email exchange between Kim and Rosen, in which Rosen told him that he was interested in "breaking news ahead of my competitors" and had a particular interest in "what intelligence is picking up." He also told Kim, "I'd love to see some internal State Department analyses."
The suggestion was that Rosen broke the law by soliciting information from Kim, something that all journalists do routinely with sources.
Nonetheless, the federal judge found there was probable cause to believe that Rosen was a co-conspirator and approved the warrant.
In other words, Holder's on-the-record denial of involvement in any prosecution of news organizations for publishing classified information in no way conflicts with any knowledge he may have possessed or action the DOJ may have taken against reporters for soliciting said information. Fox's perjury accusations simply don't align with the facts.
Fox News figures are using newly released internal emails to falsely suggest that the intelligence community never connected the attack in Benghazi, Libya to protests against an anti-Islam video. In fact, every version of the talking points, including the CIA's original draft, linked the attack to protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, which were part of a series of global riots and protests that were partly in response to increased awareness of the video.
On May 15, the White House released more than 100 pages of emails about the September 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya. The Los Angeles Times noted of the emails: "Even the very first version of the talking points suggests that the attack was inspired by the protests in Cairo over the anti-Muslim video, a perfectly plausible supposition at the time. That undermines the Republican claim that administration officials concocted the notion of a Benghazi protest to protect the president from a perception that Al Qaeda was ascendant again." Indeed, the original version of the talking points produced by the CIA's Office of Terrorism Analysis stated:
The currently available information suggests that the demonstrations in Benghazi were spontaneously inspired by the protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and evolved into a direct assault against the U.S. diplomatic post and subsequently its annex. There are indications that extremists participated in the violent demonstrations.
But Fox News figures have ignored this to predictably use the emails to criticize the Obama administration for misleading Americans when officials publicly linked the Benghazi attacks to the anti-Islam video.
It was just ten days ago that Stephen Hayes of The Weekly Standard reported "fresh evidence emerged that senior Obama administration officials knowingly misled the country about what had happened in the days following the assaults" last September on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya.
Hayes' report was based on email exchanges described in a politicized report issued by House Republicans along with a timeline detailing when the emails were sent and the names of two of the participants provided most likely by Republican sources on Capitol Hill. Jonathan Karl of ABC News would later write a similar piece after receiving summaries of those emails, likely from a similar source. Never mind that this conversation is in itself a sideshow from the real question of the actual mistakes that led to the tragic death of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others in Benghazi as laid out in the Accountability Review Board report. The DC media quickly swarmed into the sort of feeding frenzy phenomenon native to Washington. Finally, after months of fruitless effort to uncover evidence of an attempt by the administration to politicize the Benghazi talking points, the right thought they had proof to justify their conspiracies.
Fast forward a few days and the email conversations between those editing the talking points are available for public view. And as it turns out the perceptions drawn by Hayes and Karl did not match reality.