From the September 23 edition of MSNBC's The Ed Show:
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Fox News misled on the current budget negotiations with the canard that President Obama was more willing to meet with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani than meet with congressional Republicans, though Obama has said publicly that he will work with the GOP on reasonable budget proposals and it is not confirmed that he will meet with Rouhani.
On the September 23 edition of Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy attempted to obscure the debate over the looming government shutdown with a misleading analogy, citing reports that Obama might meet with Rouhani and contrasting them with Obama's supposed unwillingness to "meet with Republicans to discuss and negotiate over the debt limit." Fox News legal analyst Peter Johnson Jr. repeated the allegation, calling the president's approach "topsy turvy" and claiming he needed to "focus on the real enemy." Fox then aired a brief clip from Obama's August 20 speech at the Ford stamping plant in Liberty, Missouri, claiming the speech demonstrated that Obama was more interested in attacking the GOP than working with them.
In fact, during the same speech, Obama emphasized his willingness to work with Republicans to find a reasonable compromise on the debt ceiling and budget:
Democrats and some reasonable Republicans in Congress are willing to raise the debt ceiling and pass a sensible budget. And I want to work with Democrats and Republicans to do just that.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney also explained Obama's willingness to negotiate on reasonable budget proposals (emphasis added):
So I think what the President said goes to what we've been discussing earlier, which is, when it comes to reaching a broader budget agreement, the President has consistently been willing to seek common ground and to make reasonable concessions to Republicans and to their priorities. What he has not been willing to do is stick it to the middle class in order to achieve some of their ideological agenda priorities, and reach a compromise that benefits the wealthy and corporations, rewards insurance companies, but doesn't help the middle class -- in fact, hurts the middle class.
Furthemore, the Wall Street Journal reported on September 23 that Secretary of State John Kerry would meet with the Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif at the U.N., but suggestions that Obama may meet with Rouhani remain unconfirmed. As Reuters reported:
White House spokesman Jay Carney has deflected questions all week about whether the two leaders would meet during the U.N. gathering. On Thursday, he acknowledged a change in tone between Iran and the West since Rouhani took office and said a meeting was possible, though one was not scheduled.
"It's possible, but it has always been possible," Carney said. "The extended hand has been there from the moment the president was sworn in."
Even if Obama were to meet with Rouhani, the administration has been clear that Iran must abandon any nuclear program. From Reuters:
Carney reiterated that Obama would be willing to have bilateral negotiations provided the Iranians were serious about addressing the international community's insistence that Tehran give up its nuclear weapons program.
"That is the position we hold today," Carney said.
Fox News' Steve Doocy falsely claimed the federal budget deficit had increased by 137 percent under President Obama, when in fact the deficit as a percentage of the total economy has fallen to its lowest level since 2008.
Rep. Nancy Pelosi argued on the September 22 edition of CNN's State of the Union that Republicans who insisted on further cuts to government spending during budget negotiations were harming the economy, noting that spending has already been significantly reduced and that "President Obama, when he became president, he said I'm going to cut the deficit in half in four years. He did it in four years and three months."
On Fox & Friends the following morning, co-host Steve Doocy mocked Pelosi's math, claiming that Pelosi "says the president has cut the deficit by half" when "according to the CBO, it's gone up 137 percent."
This is false. The Congressional Budget Office reported September 17 that the annual federal budget deficit had fallen this year to "its smallest size since 2008: roughly 4 percent of GDP [gross domestic product], compared with a peak of almost 10 percent in 2009":
The economy's gradual recovery from the 2007-2009 recession, the waning budgetary effects of policies enacted in response to the weak economy, and other changes to tax and spending policies have caused the deficit to shrink this year to its smallest size since 2008: roughly 4 percent of GDP, compared with a peak of almost 10 percent in 2009. If current laws governing taxes and spending were generally unchanged -- an assumption that underlies CBO's 10-year baseline budget projections -- the deficit would continue to drop over the next few years, falling to 2 percent of GDP by 2015. As a result, by 2018, federal debt held by the public would decline to 68 percent of GDP.
A CBO chart further showed how the revised May 2013 projection of the federal deficit revealed the deficit had fallen dramatically since 2011 and would continue dropping through 2015 under current laws:
Fox & Friends dishonestly claimed that President Obama would be fully responsible for a government shutdown, despite the fact that House Republicans have tied the government's funding to defunding the new health care law, a plan that other Republicans have dismissed as unworkable.
On October 1, much of the federal government will shut down if Congress is unable to pass a measure allowing them to pay for past spending. The Hill reported that House Republicans were insisting on defunding the president's health care law in exchange for keeping the federal government open:
The House on Friday is poised to approve a stopgap spending bill that strips out funding for President Obama's signature healthcare law.
The continuing resolution, pushed by Republican leaders at the behest of conservatives, will serve as the first volley in a 10-day battle that will determine whether much of the federal government shuts down on Oct. 1. It cleared a test vote in the House on Thursday, 230-192, setting up a final vote for Friday.
Once approved by the House, the measure will move to the Senate, where Democratic leaders have vowed to restore funding to ObamaCare and could try to increase spending levels to soften the blow of sequestration.
Backed into a corner by conservatives, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Thursday challenged Senate Republicans to "pick up the mantle and get the job done" by fighting for the House measure in the upper chamber.
President Obama has made it clear that he would veto any bill that defunded the health care law, and would only support measures that allowed the government to function while further debate on spending took place. Late Friday morning, Talking Points Memo reported that the House passed its plan to fund the government but with funding for the health care law stripped out.
Fox & Friends used the veto threat to dishonestly pin the blame for a possible government shutdown solely on Obama. On September 20, co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck suggested Democrats and Obama were "the obstacle on the course." Co-host Steve Doocy went further, putting the blame for a possible shutdown squarely on the president, claiming Republicans are ready "to pass a plan today to keep the government from shutting down. But there's one thing standing in the way -- the President of the United States."
In fact, Republican senators have criticized the House GOP's move as unrealistic and said that Congress, not Obama, will get the blame for any government shutdown. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) said that the Senate "will not repeal, or defund" the health care law, and to think that it can be done "is not rational." McCain also noted that Americans "reacted in a very negative fashion towards Congress" for the government shutdown in the 1990s, and told the Washington Examiner that the House plan is a "suicide note." Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) similarly commented that he's "not in the shut down the government crowd." Senator Richard Burr (R-NC), who previously called a Republican idea to defund the law by forcing a government shutdown a "dumb idea," said he still thinks "it's a dumb idea, because you can't defund Obamacare." The Huffington Post reported that Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) "continues to see the legislative strategy as a political dead end for the GOP," and Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) said she doesn't think the House GOP "should shut down the government" to stop the health care law.
Fox News falsely claimed the Obama administration had done little to address issues of mental health following recent mass shootings, hiding the fact that gun violence prevention legislation backed by President Obama included mental health provisions and that the president has signed multiple measures aimed at increasing Americans' access to mental health services.
On September 17, President Obama called on Congress to strengthen background checks for gun purchases following the mass shooting at the Washington, D.C. Navy Yard by a former Navy reservist who had clearance to access the base as a civilian contractor and who had passed a background check to purchase the gun he brought with him.
On September 18, Fox & Friends criticized the call for stronger gun laws following the tragedy, with co-host Brian Kilmeade saying "the focus really should be on mental illness" and accusing doctors of letting dangerous individuals out "wild in society." Co-host Steve Doocy then criticized President Obama over the tragedy, saying that "[a]fter the Newtown massacre, what did the President of the United States say? He said his administration, quote, 'would bring mental illness out of the shadows.' What have they done so far? They've had a conference in June. Nothing has happened."
Doocy and Kilmeade's fixation on mental health as the solution to gun violence is misplaced, as studies have shown that people with mental health conditions are more often the victims of violent crime than the perpetrators. In fact, 96 percent of violent crimes "are committed by people without any mental-health problems at all."
But Doocy was also wrong: Obama and Senate Democrats have supported gun violence prevention legislation which addressed mental health issues, and Obama has signed multiple measures to increase access to mental health services for those who need them.
Several media figures have reacted to the mass shooting in Washington, D.C.'s Navy Yard by downplaying the role access to firearms had in the killings, instead blaming video games and their purported effect on mental health. But studies have either debunked or failed to find a plausible link between playing violent video games and real world gun violence.
Much of the connection between shooter Aaron Alexis and video games appears to come from Mike Ritrovato, who says he knew Alexis. Ritrovato told The Los Angeles Times that "if [Alexis] had anything bad about him, it was that he was a 35-year-old man playing video games." Ritrovato also told ABC News that Alexis was often late to work "because he was staying up all night playing video games."
Fox News echoed a Republican plan to promote "rising stars" in the party, debuting a week-long Fox & Friends segment that shares a name with a Republican National Committee initiative to highlight new Republican voices.
On August 15, the RNC announced its new "Rising Stars" program, which would "regularly spotlight and actively promote Republican individuals who are new voices in the party." Fox's Sean Hannity was quick to highlight the RNC initiative, echoing RNC chairman Reince Priebus to note that it was "an effort to attract a wider range of voters by promoting new Republican individuals and talent within the party" and welcoming two of the RNC's new stars, T.W. Shannon and Karin Agness, onto the August 15 edition of his show.
A month later, Fox followed up on the RNC's initiative with its own week-long "Rising Stars" series. On September 16, Fox host Elisabeth Hasselbeck announced on Fox & Friends that "[t]his week, we are meeting some rising political stars on track to reshaping our nation's future." She then welcomed Oklahoma House Speaker T.W. Shannon -- who was listed as one of the RNC's "Rising Stars" -- as Fox's first featured guest. During the segment, on-air text promoted Shannon as a "new face of the GOP."
Fox & Friends invited former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld onto the program this morning for an unintentionally awkward round of Obama bashing regarding the situation in Syria. (The "so-called commander in chief" is how Rumsfeld mocked the president.) As part of Fox's relentless critique of the president's handling of Syria, and his call for military strikes in response to the Syrian government's use of chemical weapons against its own people, Fox & Friends attacked Obama for moving too slowly.
Twice during the interview, Steve Doocy complained that Obama had previously "delayed" launching the successful attack that captured and killed Osama bin Laden. The fact that Doocy made the point to Rumsfeld, who as Secretary of Defense, could not locate bin Laden for seven-plus years in the wake of the Sept. 11 terror attacks, was clumsy at best.
Even more awkward though, was Brian Kilmeade's accusation put to Rumsfeld that the Obama White House had allegedly sent mixed messages to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad [emphasis added].
KILMEADE: Do you blame Assad for getting mixed signals from the very people now asking for war? From the people that once put their hand of friendship out?
Kilmeade wanted to know from Rumsfeld whether a Middle Eastern dictator accused of gassing people had been sent mixed messages from American officials who extended their hand of friendship but now threaten to use military force.
Well, Rumsfeld ought to know:
Fox News continued its defense of anti-LGBT discrimination by businesses, conducting a one-sided interview with the owners of a now-shuttered bakery that refused to provide a lesbian couple with a wedding cake and suggesting that those who oppose anti-LGBT discrimination fail to display "tolerance."
On September 4, Fox & Friends invited Aaron and Melissa Klein, the co-owners of Sweet Cakes by Melissa. The Kleins closed their storefront in the wake of a civil rights complaint that alleged the couple violated the Oregon Equality Act of 2007, which prohibits discrimination against LGBT individuals in employment, housing, and public accommodations.
Co-host Steve Doocy suggested that refusing to serve the lesbian couple didn't indicate a bias against LGBT people, just opposition to same-sex marriage. "[Y]ou didn't refuse to serve gay people, simply the gay weddings, right?" Doocy asked Melissa Klein, as if the lesbian couple's sexual orientation was irrelevant to Klein's refusal to serve them. Klein undercut Doocy's suggestion that she and her husband lacked anti-LGBT animus when she replied that she "can't participate in the wedding" because "homosexuality is - the behavior - is a sin."
Making no distinction between personal religious belief and public business practices, co-host Gretchen Carlson then used the closure of Sweet Cakes by Melissa to question whether we're still a "free country":
Donald Trump baselessly speculated that he was being personally targeted by President Obama through a lawsuit filed by the New York attorney general over allegations that Trump University has engaged in illegal business practices.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman filed a civil lawsuit August 24 "accusing Trump University, Donald J. Trump's for-profit investment school, of engaging in illegal business practices," according to The New York Times. The lawsuit accuses Trump of running the school as an "unlicensed education institution" and making false claims about the classes offered.
Fox & Friends hosted Trump to discuss the suit on August 26 where he baselessly speculated that President Obama was using the lawsuit to politically target him, noting that Schneiderman and Obama met two days before the suit was filed and saying, "Maybe this is a mini IRS." Co-hosts Brian Kilmeade and Steve Doocy agreed with Trump that the president may have been involved, noting, "The president hasn't liked you for a while."
In fact, Schneiderman has been investigating Trump's for-profit university for years. In May 2011, the Times reported that the attorney general had launched an investigation "prompted by about a dozen complaints concerning the Trump school" that he had found to be "credible" and "serious." The inquiry was part of a broader investigation into at least five for-profit educational companies.
The Times also noted that Trump University had faced "a string of consumer complaints, reprimands from state regulators and a lawsuit from dissatisfied former students." The school received a D-minus rating from the Better Business Bureau, and changed its name to Trump Entrepreneur Initiative in 2010 following complaints from New York and Maryland that using "university" in its title violated state education laws.
Fox News has continually injected race into its coverage of the murder of Oklahoma college student Christopher Lane, despite law enforcement's insistence that the crime, allegedly committed by three teens -- two black, one white -- has no evidence of a racial motive.
From the August 22 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
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Fox News falsely claimed the Affordable Care Act (ACA) would force families to receive home visits from government officials to assess at-risk children, when in reality an initiative authorized by the law simply expands existing programs in states that are entirely voluntary and which research shows have improved maternal health and child development.
On the August 21 edition of Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy claimed "a brand new federal program" would spend $224 million to send "government home inspectors to your house" to help at-risk children, and asked if this was "Obamacare trumping your right to privacy and snooping on you and your family." Fox Business' Stuart Varney agreed that it was "an intrusion directly into your home and the way you raise your children," and the two proceeded to claim that "the Obama snooper" would visit families randomly and unannounced. On-screen text described the program as "Nanny state solutions: Forced home visits for 'at-risk' kids."
But the program is voluntary. In 2011, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced $224 million in grants from the ACA's Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program (MIECHV) to support states' existing home visit programs that bring "nurses, social workers, or other health care professionals to meet with at-risk families that agree to meet with them in their homes" [emphasis added]. And in a 2010 grant announcement, the federal government defined the covered home visits "as an evidence-based program, implemented in response to findings from a needs assessment, that includes home visiting as a primary service strategy ... and is offered on a voluntary basis."
In Rhode Island, for example, families can request a home visit through community health services, or health care providers can refer families that are interested in the program. The service will then work with families to "provide them the available programs and resources they want."
The programs offer a variety of services, including educating parents about child development and supporting school readiness, linking low-income mothers to prenatal health care, ensuring children have access to health care and immunizations, helping families access supplemental food programs and financial aid, and encouraging healthy parent-child relationships to reduce incidents of child abuse. The Department of Health and Human Services conducted an extensive review of the research on several different home visit models, and found evidence that many of the programs improved maternal health, child development, reductions in child maltreatment, and family economic self-sufficiency.
Similarly, The New York Times reported that a 2007 study of high-risk families -- including parents who were under 18, unmarried, low-income, or had inadequate prenatal care -- found that infants were more than twice as likely to survive if their family had received home visits with health workers before and after birth.
In The New York Times, media reporter Brian Stelter described the launch of Al Jazeera America as "something a journalism professor would imagine" due to its "Fourteen hours of straight news every day. Hard-hitting documentaries. Correspondents in oft-overlooked corners of the country. And fewer commercials than any other news channel."
The conservative media, however, saw the channel's launch today as an opportunity to spread fact-free Islamophobia.
On Fox News, guest Jim Pinkerton described the network as an "Arab news channel" and went on to claim that "many if not most Arabs probably support what Bin Laden was trying to do in terms of killing Americans" before giving the channel credit for its coverage of the Arab Spring and other global events.
Back in February when it was announced the network had purchased CurrentTV, Fox and Friends co-host Steve Doocy asked if Al Jazeera America was "a Trojan Horse for terror":
Fox News continued its attack on a California law granting transgender students access to appropriate school facilities by touting the wildly exaggerated fears of a transphobic California lawmaker.
During the August 19 edition of Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy interviewed California Assemblyman Tim Donnelly (R-33), who claims to have recently pulled one of his sons out of public school in response to the passage of the student non-discrimination law.
During the segment - which opened with Fox's classic "P.C. Police" intro - Donnelly warned that the measure would make students uncomfortable by forcing them to be "naked in front of someone that you might want to ask out":
Doocy expressed agreement with Donnelly's criticism, touting an effort to repeal the law through a referendum and even reading from a WND column in which Donnelly stoked fears that California's law might "increase the likelihood of sexual assault on campus."