Fox News revived the debunked myth that President Obama "gutted" work requirements from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program despite the fact that the claim has repeatedly been shown to be false.
Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy hyped a bill introduced by House Republicans last week that seeks to block the administration from granting waivers to states under the TANF program. Doocy claimed the bill would "make work a condition for receiving welfare," and repeated the debunked myth that those requirements have been "gutted under President Obama."
But the Obama administration has not removed work requirements from welfare. In July 2012, the administration announced that it would comply with governors' requests -- including Republicans -- to consider proposals to create more efficient ways to report on the work requirement for people receiving TANF benefits. According to Health and Human Services, any program that weakened or undercut welfare reform would not be approved, and waivers would only be granted to proposals that "move at least 20% more people from welfare to work."
The Center on Budget and Policies Priorities found that these waivers would strengthen welfare reform by "giving states greater flexibility to test more effective strategies for helping recipients prepare for, and retain jobs." The New York Times reported that the new requirements continued the administration's efforts "to peel back unnecessary layers of bureaucracy and allow states to spend federal money more efficiently."
As NPR reported, following 2012 presidential candidate Mitt Romney's use of the claim in a political ad, "every major fact-checking organization" found the attack to be false. Politifact rated the claim as "pants on fire" and The Washington Post's fact checker gave the claim four Pinocchios (its highest rating). Factcheck.org found no basis for the claim, explaining:
A Mitt Romney TV ad claims the Obama administration has adopted 'a plan to gut welfare reform by dropping work requirements.' The plan does neither of those things.
- Work requirements are not simply being 'dropped.' States may now change the requirements -- revising, adding or eliminating them -- as part of a federally approved state-specific plan to increase job placement.
- And it won't 'gut' the 1996 law to ease the requirement. Benefits still won't be paid beyond an allotted time, whether the recipient is working or not.
The Washington Post's Wonkblog noted that unlike Obama, the Bush administration "pushed for a welfare 'superwaiver' that would allow states to waive just about every requirement, including the work requirement," a proposal which passed in the House three times.
A week after Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy called Al Jazeera's expansion into American television a "trojan horse for terror," the show used exclusive footage from Al Jazeera to report on a deadly tourism accident in Egypt.
Following the announcement that Al Jazeera was purchasing Current TV to expand into U.S. markets, Doocy asked last week if Al Jazeera America would be a "Trojan Horse for terror." The following on-screen graphic was displayed when Doocy made his comments:
Doocy's smear did not stop Fox & Friends from airing Al Jazeera's footage of a hot air balloon crash in Egypt that killed 19 tourists. The footage included on-screen text identifying it as "Al Jazeera Exclusive."
Fox host Bill O'Reilly also recently attacked Al Jazeera, claiming that if you "misbehave ... on Al Jazeera, they behead you," and that Current TV's hosts were "going to be given burqas" before reporting on Al Jazeera America.
Fox News has previously used both Al Jazeera's live feed and its reporting during the Arab Spring protests, despite criticizing President Obama for reportedly watching the network's reporting.
Fox News hosts cited a widely criticized Bob Woodward column to falsely claim President Obama's proposal to avert looming government spending cuts -- known as sequestration -- "moved the goalposts" because it offsets some of the cuts with new revenue. In fact, the administration's proposal to avert the sequestration has always included a balanced deficit reduction plan that included additional revenues.
Fox News host Steve Doocy downplayed the effects of looming automatic budget cuts by comparing them to the national budget, a meaningless comparison since these cuts focus on a specific aspect of the budget known as discretionary spending, which would have a significant effect on many programs.
On Fox & Friends, Doocy downplayed the automatic budget cuts, known as sequestration, by saying the cuts are "not going to cut to the bone anyway. The president has described it as a meat cleaver because it's simply an across-the-board cut. It is like a 2.5% cut. It is not really meat cleaver, it's more of a slight little haircut that we're talking about here":
But Doocy is wrong about how the cuts will affect the federal budget. Though these cuts are 2.5% of total government spending, they would primarily affect discretionary spending, a much smaller portion of the budget. The Washington Post's Fact Checker blog noted that those who claim the sequestration would cut 2.5% of the budget do not provide the necessary context to understand what these numbers mean:
Conservative media are attacking President Obama for supposedly criticizing scheduled across-the-board cuts, known as the sequester, while not proposing alternatives to avoid them. In reality, Obama has proposed a plan to replace the sequester that includes over $930 billion in spending cuts and $580 billion in new tax revenue.
Fox News is mocking President Barack Obama for saying the U.S. must use less oil in a recent interview, suggesting it was a callous and unfounded idea. But experts across the political spectrum agree that the only way to reduce our vulnerability to gasoline price spikes is to cut our oil dependence.
On Wednesday, the president gave an interview to a local South Carolina news station. Responding to a question on high gasoline prices, President Obama said he was "proud" that oil production during his tenure has been high, but emphasized that the "overall economy [must] use less oil."Obama referenced ways that he has worked toward this goal, including implementing fuel economy standards that a group of retired military officers and business leaders called "the most important energy security accomplishment in decades," and proposing further research into alternative transportation technology.
On Thursday, Fox & Friends' Brian Kilmeade asked, "really? So I should stop driving to work, I should start jogging? I'm not really sure what that means." Steve Doocy added, "So if you want to save money, use less oil. Just stop driving. Don't go anywhere, stay in your house, watch television." At no point did the co-hosts reference the policies that Obama specifically cited so that we can move toward lower oil use economy-wide:
From the February 21st edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
Loading the player ...
Fox News is cropping a statement President Obama made in November 2011 to falsely claim he threatened to veto any replacement for the scheduled across-the-board spending cuts known as sequestration. But in that statement, Obama called on Congress to pass "a balanced plan to reduce the deficit by at least $1.2 trillion" to replace the cuts in the sequester.
Right-wing media outlets have advanced a number of myths regarding automatic across-the-board spending cuts -- commonly called the sequester -- in order to hide the facts behind an inherently harmful economic policy.
Fox News dismissed universal preschool education as a government handout and cast doubt on its effectiveness, despite studies showing that it helps children.
Fox Business host Stuart Varney pilloried this proposal, concluding that it is designed to "hand out the goodies" to future voters. Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy questioned whether children will benefit from preschool education past childhood.
Research shows that preschool education has a positive impact on child development. A September 2008 Brookings Institution research brief on state preschool programs found that they "have positive impacts on children's cognitive skills, including both pre-reading and pre-math skills" and that preschool programs effectively improve a child's "readiness to learn." And, while all children gain from preschool education, the Brookings research brief stated that "the impacts are largest among disadvantaged children," with disadvantaged children participating in preschool programs experiencing larger gains in math and reading skills than the rest of the children that attended these programs.
The Center for American Progress noted that without preschool or like programs disadvantaged children are:
- 25 percent more likely to drop out of school
- 40 percent more likely to become a teen parent
- 50 percent more likely to be placed in special education
- 60 percent more likely never to attend college
- 70 percent more likely to be arrested for a violent crime
Additionally, according to the Economic Policy Institute, preschool education "would have a substantial payoff in the future as such a program would ultimately reduce costs for remedial and special education, criminal justice, and child welfare, and would increase income earned and taxes paid," despite high upfront costs. And according to Scholastic, "[e]conomists say that the return for every dollar invested in preschool can be anywhere from $2 to $17 when you total the drop in special education, grade repetition, and crime, and add the value of a more productive workforce."
The Children's Learning Institute provided the following chart depicting the efficacy of various forms of government childhood investment, showing preschool education to be the most effective:
As the State Department nears a decision on whether or not to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, the media is exaggerating its economic benefits and downplaying environmental risks to advocate for the project. Here, Media Matters takes on five of the prevailing media myths about Keystone XL.
Fox News ignored previous Republican praise for the law that created the upcoming sequester -- across-the-board government spending cuts -- to blame President Obama for potential negative effects if the cuts occur as scheduled on March 1.
The 2011 Budget Control Act created the sequester as an incentive for Congress to agree on deficit reduction measures. If Congress didn't pass those reductions above a certain threshold, the spending cuts in the sequester would automatically take place. A deal at the beginning of the year delayed the start of those cuts, which are now scheduled to take effect March 1.
Despite prior GOP praise for the law that created the sequester, Fox News is blaming Obama for its negative consequences. Responding to the president's request that Congress find a way to avoid the sequester, a Fox Nation headline on Wednesday declared: "Obama Seeks to Void Cuts He Signed Into Law." That same day, Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy called the sequester "the invention of the White House." On Tuesday's edition of America Live, Fox's Chris Stirewalt said of the sequester: "remember, this was [Obama's] idea."
After the 2011 Budget Control Act passed, however, senior House Republicans hailed it as a potential game-changer on spending cuts -- a fact that Fox News has been hiding as the network blames Obama for the creation of the sequester. After it passed, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said the law "will finally begin to change the way Washington spends taxpayer dollars." Speaker of the House John Boehner touted the law as "a positive step forward that begins to rein in federal spending." House Budget Committee Chairman and former Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan said:
The Budget Control Act represents a victory for those committed to controlling government spending and growing our economy. I applaud Speaker Boehner's leadership in stopping tax increases on job creators, rejecting President Obama's demands for a blank check to keep borrowing, and advancing real spending cuts and controls.
But the sequester contains spending cuts that will seriously weaken the economic recovery. MarketWatch reported that the Congressional Budget Office estimated that the sequester would halve U.S. economic growth this year, and the Bipartisan Policy Center estimated that it would cut one million jobs if it took effect. Recognizing these harmful effects, Obama is now urging Congress to find a way to further delay the sequester to find a permanent replacement to it.
From the February 6 edition of MSNBC's The Ed Show:
Loading the player ...
Fox News has reached new lows in an attempt to attack Hillary Clinton, this morning speculating that the former Secretary of State had a facelift.
Discussing a newly launched website, HillaryClintonOffice.com, Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy claimed it showed off her "glamorous new face" and asked: "Facelift, perhaps?"
During the segment, Fox contrasted an image of Clinton from the new website with one of her purportedly taken two weeks ago in the midst of congressional testimony about the terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya:
CNN reported that the Clinton site "was created to help people contact her with questions and scheduling requests now that she is no longer in her government post." The person who purchased the domain name has remained anonymous.
UPDATE: Doocy Responds On Twitter
After this post was published, Doocy responded on Twitter, denying he was referring to Clinton specifically when he speculated about whether she had undergone a facelift. He wrote: "Saw some lefty blogs thought I said Hillary had a facelift, nope, I was saying the Hillary WEBSITE had a new pic, a facelift for site":
Here is a transcript of what Doocy said:
DOOCY: Is this the face of presidential ambition? Days after retiring as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, somebody has launched a new website for her showing off this glamorous new face. Facelift, perhaps? Well, that's fueling rumors about a run for president in 2016, but her aides say it's simply a way for fans and the media to reach her.
As congressional leaders debate a framework for comprehensive immigration reform that will likely grant undocumented immigrants legal status, conservative media are engaged in promoting myths and falsehoods about what reform means for the country.