From the February 9 edition of Fox Business' Varney & Co.:
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Right-wing media attacked Beyoncé's Super Bowl halftime performance of her new song which reportedly features "implicit commentary on police brutality, Hurricane Katrina and black financial power." Conservative figures called the performance "anti-cop," criticized Beyoncé for bringing race "into the halftime show," and attacked the women performers for being "dressed like prostitutes."
Fox Business host Stuart Varney pushed the discredited claim that a recent set of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's emails that are being withheld from public release contain "the names of our intelligence people on the ground overseas involved in active intelligence work" in order to suggest that Clinton should be indicted by the FBI for mishandling classified information.
On January 29, the State Department announced that seven email chains from Clinton's private email server were withheld from public release because they had been retroactively determined to include Top Secret information.
Following the announcement, conservative media touted anonymously sourced claims that the email chains include "Holy Grail items of American espionage such as the true names of Central Intelligence Agency intelligence officers serving overseas under cover."
NBC News debunked this claim in a February 4 article, explaining that several of the emails in question forwarded to Clinton reportedly contained "references to undercover CIA officers ... [b]ut contrary to some published reports, three officials said there was no email on Clinton's server that directly revealed the identity of an undercover intelligence operative." NBC News also reported one "now-classified email chain originated with a member of the CIA director's staff, leading some officials to question how Clinton could be blamed." A former senior CIA official told NBC News that "any suggestion that this email contained confirmation about the person or his cover, or any inappropriate information, is flat wrong."
During the February 4 broadcast of Varney & Co., host Varney repeated the debunked claim that the withheld emails had "the names of our intelligence people on the ground overseas involved in active intelligence work":
STUART VARNEY (HOST): From what you've been told openly in Congress by [Rep.] Chris Stewart [R-UT] and others, is there any way that the FBI will not recommend indictment?
REP. JORDAN (R-OH): Stuart, good to be with you. Look, that's the FBI's call, that's the Justice Department's call. Obviously, what Congressman Stewart had to say, I think, is pretty revealing, but they get to make the final decision. What we do know is from the start when Hillary Clinton, I happened to serve on the Benghazi Select Committee, we know that Secretary Clinton took her emails and decided which ones were public and which ones were private. She got to make that determination, we have no idea what search terms, what date parameters, who oversaw all that process, who made the decision, then the FBI goes in and gets the server and now we find out the FBI and State Department people are saying a number of these contain classified information. But in the end the FBI will decide.
VARNEY: I know the FBI will decide, but I just don't know see how they cannot indict, information of that kind naming the names of our intelligence people on the ground overseas involved in active intelligence work on her private server in her barn in Chappaqua available to all who can hack into it. I mean are you with me on this, can you see anyway the FBI cannot indict her, will not indict her?
During the January 8 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, Fox Business Network host Stuart Varney joined Fox News host Bill O'Reilly in a discussion of Varney's villains of the week, which Varney suggested include Planned Parenthood or alternatively its president, Cecile Richards. Varney based his designation of Cecile Richards as a "villain" on the misleading portrait of the health care provider based on the deceptively-edited videos produced by the anti-choice organization Center For Medical Progress (CMP), named by Media Matters as "Misinformer of the Year." CMP's videos have been debunked by numerous media outlets, including the New York Times, which called the effort "a dishonest attempt to make legal, voluntary and potentially lifesaving tissue donations appear nefarious and illegal." Multiple investigations into allegations against Planned Parenthood stemming from videos targeting the organization have found no illegal activity taking place.
Varney concluded the segment by saying the organization should be blocked from receiving public funding, to which O'Reilly agreed. Planned Parenthood affiliates receives public funding from a few different government programs, either from Medicaid reimbursement for services provided or in the form of grants to provide sex education, birth control to low-income patients, testing for sexually transmitted infections, and cancer screenings.
From the January 8 edition of Fox's The O'Reilly Factor:
BILL O'REILLY: All right, villain number two.
STUART VARNEY: Planned Parenthood.
O'REILLY: The whole thing?
VARNEY: Well if you want to pick on Cecile Richards, who runs the operation, let's do that.
O'REILLY: All right, let's make her the villain.
VARNEY: That's the villain.
O'REILLY: All right, there she is.
VARNEY: Now, Congress, or the Republicans, want to defund Planned Parenthood for one year. Cecile Richards says we don't want that. We're going to bring in Hillary Rodham Clinton. We are going to support her. She has access to $20 million worth of Planned Parenthood funds. OK, got that.
O'REILLY: What does that mean?
VARNEY: They have a pool of money.
O'REILLY: Planned Parenthood.
VARNEY: Yes, to which -- this is not taxpayer money. But that money is now available to Hillary.
O'REILLY: In donations? In the form of donations? Planned Parenthood is going to fund her campaign this election? [CROSSTALK]
VARNEY: Yes, to some degree.
O'REILLY: All right.
VARNEY: Look, my problem with this goes back to those tapes we saw last year.
VARNEY: I thought that was absolutely inhuman when you saw a woman describing how to crush a fetus, to maximize the body parts.
O'REILLY: The harvesting of the organs.
VARNEY: The harvesting, to crush [a] fetus for the best outcome for the money. [CROSSTALK]
O'REILLY: It was terrible and clear-thinking people -- but I'm not sure about the villain thing because Planned Parenthood would support Hillary Clinton no matter what.
VARNEY: But look, Bill, I don't want a dime of my taxpayer money going to support an organization which is --
O'REILLY: But you just said it wasn't.
VARNEY: No. We're trying to defund Planned Parenthood. That's what the Republicans - [CROSSTALK]
O'REILLY: But that's never going to happen because the Democrats in the Senate will block it.
VARNEY: Irrelevant. I don't want a dime of my money going to any organization that does that kind of thing. And I don't care whether you are on the left or the right.
O'REILLY: OK, do you really feel that Ms. Richards in her belief system, which is abortion on demand, selling harvested body parts from dead babies' fetuses, depending on your point of view, do you think that that in itself is villainous?
VARNEY: Yes. It is villainous to expect me to contribute to it and to force me to contribute to it through taxation. That is villainous.
O'REILLY: They say none of that money goes to abortions or to harvesting of organs.
VARNEY: When you saw that tape of the woman saying here's how you crush the fetus - [CROSSTALK]
O'REILLY: It was appalling It was disgusting.
VARNEY: That's absolutely inhuman. Out of bounds.
O'REILLY: Immediately the president should have signed an executive order immediately freezing any tax money in there. That's what he should have done.
VARNEY: In my opinion, yes.
O'REILLY: But of course it's politics associated with Planned Parenthood.
VARNEY: It's villainy.
Fox Business host Stuart Varney opened his show this morning by downplaying the Bureau of Labor Statistics' (BLS) jobs report for December 2015, marking the third consecutive month that Fox personalities have attempted to cast stellar job creation figures in a negative light.
On the January 8 edition of Fox Business' Varney & Co., host Stuart Varney opened the show by downplaying the December 2015 employment summary from the BLS, which showed the economy added 292,000 jobs last month. After accounting for upward revisions to job creation totals in October and November, the December report was the strongest jobs report of 2015. Instead of acknowledging these facts, Varney referred to this report as "modest by historical standards" and lamented that it was a sign of the "new normal in the Obama years." Later in the segment, Varney and guest Paul Conway, a former Bush administration official, combed through the report for kernels of negative data. Far from being "modest by historical standards," in the 77-year history of the BLS monthly jobs report, only 171 of the 923 months (18.5 percent) have seen job creation equal to or greater than the December 2015 total.
Varney's disingenuous complaint fits a trend at Fox News, where on-air personalities continue to lament consistently improving economic data. On November 6, 2015, Fox & Friends co-hosts Elisabeth Hasselbeck and Steve Doocy stumbled through a segment on the outstanding October jobs report, with Hasselbeck confusingly claiming that "only 271,000 jobs" had been created that month. On December 4, 2015, in response to a strong November report that beat most economists' expectations, Varney still managed to conclude that the pace of job creation was "mediocre."
The December report showed that the economy added 2.7 million jobs in 2015 and the national unemployment rate remained stable in December at 5.0 percent. BLS revisions to October and November jobs figures combined to add 50,000 more jobs than previously reported, bringing the 3-month average for job creation to 284,000, its highest level since the end of last year.
In the face of Fox's contrarian reporting, actual economists were elated by the job market news. University of Michigan economist Justin Wolfers began a stream of tweets about the report by stating "It's beautiful. Just beautiful." A blog by economist Jared Bernstein called the December data "another welcome show of strength" for the ongoing economic recovery. In a statement to The New York Times, economist Mark Zandi described the December report as "remarkable" and an "achievement":
"The remarkable thing is how consistent employment growth has been over the past three or four years," said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics. "We're getting at least 200,000 jobs per month on a consistent basis. That's quite an achievement."
Watch the full opening remarks from Varney & Co. below:
STUART VARNEY (HOST): 292,000 new the jobs created, modest by historical standards, the new normal in the Obama years. But hourly earnings unchanged, that's important.
On January 9, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan will host a presidential candidate forum in Columbia, South Carolina focused on poverty. As media outlets prepare to cover the event, will they remember that despite Ryan's gentler language, he has a history of promoting budget and fiscal policies that would harm Americans struggling with poverty?
CNBC reported that a study published by the journal Health Affairs "found little evidence that the ACA has caused increases in part-time employment as of 2015," debunking a long time conservative media attack on President Obama's health care law.
Despite being repeatedly debunked, right-wing pundits have continued to push the false claim that the Affordable Care Act would negatively effect American employment, claiming its enactment would drive losses in full-time jobs while increasing part-time employment -- though no data has supported this assertion.
A January 5 article from CNBC reported that despite Sen. Ted Cruz's (R-TX) assertion that the ACA has "forced millions of people into part-time work," "the analysis did not find such a shift to a reduction in work hours," and this speculative claim "isn't borne out by reality":
A new study further undercuts a major claim by critics of the Affordable Care Act, who contended that the law would encourage companies to slash full-time workers' hours and shift them into part-time work in order to avoid having to offer them health insurance.
The research "found little evidence that the ACA had caused increases in part-time employment as of 2015," according to a summary of the findings published in the journal Health Affairs on Tuesday.
"We can say with a large degree of confidence that there is nothing we can see nationwide when we look at the whole workforce" that would support a claim that the so-called employer mandate or other Obamacare features have led to increases in part-time employment at the expense of full-time jobs, said Kosali Simon, a professor at Indiana University, and a co-author of the report.
Critics of the law have said that many employers, rather than subsidize workers' insurance plans or pay the Obamacare fine, would instead cut workers' hours so that they fell below the 30-hour-per-week threshold that would trigger the penalty.
"There doesn't appear to be any substantial changes in the labor market as a result of Obamacare. The anecdotes are real, but I think it's just not happening in large numbers." -Larry Levitt, senior vice president, Kaiser Family Foundation
But the research published Tuesday in Health Affairs strongly suggests that such "speculation that employers would reduce work hours to avoid the mandate that they must offer health insurance to full-time employees" isn't borne out by reality.
"If this were true, one would expect to find increases in employment at the 'kink' just below the thirty-hour threshold," the paper noted.
Right-wing media spent much of 2015 lashing out at celebrities. From seething over celebrities who spoke out against sexism and pay inequality in Hollywood and supported the Black Lives Matter movement, to objectifying female bodies, bashing the Pope, and telling an actress to "deport herself," Media Matters looks back at some of conservative media's most outrageous temper tantrums of 2015:
New York Magazine's Jonathan Chait criticized right-wing media outlets for claiming the Paris climate agreement is toothless after previously denying the reality of man-made climate change.
Conservative media personalities criticized the Paris conference leading to a landmark December 12 climate change agreement to limit global emissions. Right-wing media outlets and figures, such as Fox News' Stuart Varney and The Daily Caller, claimed any agreement would have "little... impact" and argued that lowering global temperatures by a "minuscule amount" would cost America "an enormous amount of money." Fox News in particular demonstrated its hypocrisy over the issue by falsely implying that those at the Paris agreement were hypocrites for having a supposed large carbon footprint the Paris summit and dismissing the "hoopla" over the event due to any agreement being non-binding, while at the same time pointing to record level Alaska snowfall to dispute climate change. A Fox host also falsely claimed global temperatures have "stabilized or gone down a little bit," and Fox's Laura Ingraham claimed that the summit is about "bringing America's economy down."
In a December 20 article, Chait pointed out how conservative media were moving the goalposts on the issue, writing they had "shifted their emphasis from denying the science to denying the possibility that policy can change it." Noting that conservative media previously "objected to previous climate deals precisely because their 'mandatory' character presented an unacceptably onerous burden," conservative media were claiming "the absence of that unacceptable feature makes the new agreement worthless." Chait also called out outlets like National Review, Fox News, and The Daily Caller for misrepresenting a MIT climate study to downplay the agreement's impact:
Most conservative energy on climate change over the last quarter-century has gone into questioning the validity of climate science. Conservative intellectuals have invested enough of their reputations into this form of scientific kookery that it cannot be easily abandoned. Instead, as the evidence for anthropogenic global warming grows ever more certain, and the political costs for Republican presidential candidates of openly questioning science rise, conservatives have shifted their emphasis from denying the science to denying the possibility that policy can change it. A National Review editorial last year dismissed the notion of an international agreement to limit climate change as a metaphysical impossibility, on the grounds that reducing coal usage in one place would axiomatically increase it elsewhere. As The Wall Street Journal editorial page asserts, "If climate change really does imperil the Earth, and we doubt it does, nothing coming out of a gaggle of governments and the United Nations will save it." Having begun with their conclusion, conservative are now reasoning backward through their premises.
Accordingly, a new data point has taken hold on the right and quickly blossomed. One study by MIT finds that the Paris agreement would reduce the global temperature increase by a mere 0.2 degrees by 2100. The entire right-wing media has eagerly circulated the finding. "Current analysis by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology -- not exactly a nest of fossil-fuel conservatism -- suggests that the emissions cuts being agreed to in Paris would reduce that estimated warming by as little as 0.0°C or by as much as 0.2°C," announces a National Review editorial, thrilled to have an empirical basis for the conclusion it previously asserted as an a priori truth. The same study has been recirculated by places like the Daily Caller, Fox News, and elsewhere. Rich Lowry, writing in the New York Post, reports, "The best estimates are that, accepting the premises of the consensus, the deal will reduce warming 0.0 to 0.2 degrees Celsius."
In fact, this study is just one estimate, not estimates plural. There are many other studies, and while Lowry's column does not reveal what process he used to deem the MIT study "the best," we can probably guess that it has something to do with MIT being the one that supports his preferred conclusion. In fact, the MIT study does not produce the conclusion its gloating conservative publicists claim on its behalf.
So MIT's conclusion of emissions levels over the next 15 years is right in line with other estimates that assume Paris will do a great deal to limit climate change.
It is also certainly possible that global willpower to reduce emissions will weaken, or collapse entirely. Future events cannot be proven. Only rigid dogma like American conservatism (or, for that matter, Marxism) gives its adherents a mortal certainty about the fate of government policy that a liberal cannot match, and should not want to.
From the December 16 edition of Fox Business' Varney & Co.:
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With global crude oil prices at their lowest point in seven years, and gasoline prices approaching their lowest point of President Obama's term of office, Media Matters remembers Fox News' hypocritical coverage of the relationship between presidential policy initiatives and fuel and energy markets.
From the December 7 edition of Fox Business' Varney & Co.:
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Fox Business' Varney & Co. was virtually alone in criticizing the Bureau of Labor Statistics' (BLS) monthly jobs report for November 2015, which host Stuart Varney called "mediocre." Nearly every other media outlet, including Fox News Channel, reported that continued monthly job creation and stable unemployment levels stood as proof that the economy is strengthening.
On the December 4 edition of Varney & Co., Varney invited former Bush administration Labor Department official Paul Conway to discuss the BLS' monthly jobs report for November. Varney claimed that the creation of 211,000 jobs in November was "mediocre," and Conway added that the U.S. economy is "aggressively sustaining mediocrity." In addition to downplaying the strong monthly job creation figure, neither Varney nor Conway mentioned that the jobs figure beat expectations by 11,000, or that the BLS upwardly-revised positive job creation figures from September and October by an additional 35,000.
Other media outlets took a much different approach to the November report. CNN's New Day called the report "good news," pointing to "strong job growth" as evidence of an "improving economy." The New York Times called the numbers "robust" and included a chart illustrating how the unemployment rate has steadily improved over the last three years:
The harsh jobs report criticism on Varney & Co. is perplexing, because Varney and Conway's statements came less than an hour after conservative economist Steve Moore called the November report "a good number," adding "everything I just heard I like a lot," on Fox Business' Mornings with Maria. The misleading criticism also came just minutes after Fox co-host Martha MacCallum and Fox Business correspondent Liz Claman discussed how "significant" the monthly figures were as proof of the strength of the overall economy on Fox News' America's Newsroom.
Fox personalities have a long history of downplaying the significance of positive employment figures. On the November 6 edition of Fox & Friends, co-hosts Elisabeth Hasselbeck and Steve Doocy stumbled through a brief segment on BLS' October jobs report, which The Washington Post called "stellar," complaining that the economy created "only 271,000 jobs."
See the full segment from Varney & Co. below:
STUART VARNEY (HOST): I want to get to the jobs report. Not spectacular. I repeat, I think it's mediocre, 211,000 new jobs. Come on in Paul Conway, our Labor Department bulldog, if you don't mind me calling you that. You never call this a strong recovery. Are you sticking with that analysis after that number, 211,000 jobs?
PAUL CONWAY: I am. I mean context is important, so let's take a look at last year. The average growth last year per month for jobs was 260,000. So, 211,000, I think what we're doing is aggressively sustaining mediocrity. And I think it's important because I just don't think that those numbers are the ones that are required -- in the quality of jobs -- to pull people off the sidelines. This month, professional services are down. Manufacturing is down. We like the fact that construction is up. And health care, but you really need sustained growth across all sectors to bring more people in. That's something that Janet Yellen, I don't think, is on message with this week.
VARNEY: Comment please on what's called the U-6 number, which is often called the "real unemployment rate." It went up to 9.9 percent. The significance, please?
CONWAY: Sometimes you will see an uptick in unemployment numbers if more people are trying to join the workforce. But in this case, if you take a look back over the past many months, I still think that that number is a very disturbing number when you add it in with the labor force participation rate. Because basically what you're saying is, you've got millions of Americans in jobs where they want to work full-time and they can't, and millions of Americans who are working in part-time jobs who are just doing that to pay bills, and waiting for something to come up that aligns with talent and their education.
VARNEY: Alright, Paul Conway. Thank you very much indeed.
Global leaders convened in Paris for the United Nations climate summit, where they reached a historic international agreement to act on climate change. Conservative media continue to respond with a series of climate-related myths, but here are the facts.
From the December 2 edition of Fox Business News' Varney & Company:
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