Members of the right-wing media have promoted the claim that President Obama has "gutted" Medicare in order to fund health care reform, while GOP vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan is attempting to preserve the program. In fact, though Obama and Ryan have advocated similar spending reductions, the Affordable Care Act would not affect Medicare benefits, while Ryan's plan is projected to harm current and future seniors' care.
Despite having been discredited years ago, Fox News' Dana Perino today dredged up the falsehood that the 2004 "swift boat" attacks on then-presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry were accurate. Perino's revival of the attack is a reminder that some in the media still misunderstand what it means to "swift-boat" a candidate.
On the August 15 edition of Fox's The Five, the co-hosts discussed a new super PAC ad that attacks Obama over his handling of the raid that led to the death of Osama bin Laden and the aftermath. During the segment, co-host Bob Beckel claimed the group was "swift-boating Obama."
Co-host Dana Perino responded by claiming, "on the swift boat thing, there were 250 sworn affidavits swearing that what they said was true. And Kerry never released his military record."
In her approving citation of the original swift-boating, Perino is distorting what it means to swift-boat a candidate.
Swift Boat Veterans for Truth was a group that surfaced during the 2004 presidential election to attack John Kerry's military service in Vietnam. The group denigrated Kerry's service in a swift boat patrol in Vietnam, despite the fact that only one person who actually served under Kerry's command was involved with them. Swift Boat Veterans for Truth's accusations were replete with false and contradictory claims, as well as attacks from group members who later had to admit they had no firsthand knowledge of Kerry's actions.
As a result, most people have come to associate "swift-boating" with dubious accusations, particularly involving the military, that are designed to harm a candidate.
But Perino pushing the Swift Boat Veterans falsehood is not the only example of the media misusing the attack. The "swift boat" term was recently attached to questions about Mitt Romney's tenure at Bain Capital. While the attacks on Kerry were demonstrably false, Romney was simply being asked to reconcile a dispute about when his influence over Bain's business decisions ended.
There will be more swift-boating to come during this election cycle, but The Five's experience seems to demonstrate that few in the media will remember how to properly identify it as such.
Fox News' defense of Rep. Paul Ryan's Medicare plan has incorporated language taken straight out of a GOP memo to Republican congressional candidates, proving once more that they are in business to act as the communications arm of the Republican Party.
Last Monday Politico reported that the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) released a memo hours after Ryan was announced as Mitt Romney's vice presidential candidate mandating specific language that GOP congressional candidates should use when defending Ryan's budget and spinning Medicare attacks in their favor. From Politico:
"Do not say: 'entitlement reform,' 'privatization,' 'every option is on the table,'" the National Republican Congressional Committee said in an email memo. "Do say: 'strengthen,' 'secure,' 'save,' 'preserve, 'protect.'"
Although the instructions were addressed to GOP politicians, Fox got the memo. Tonight on Fox News' The Five, co-host Dana Perino repeated GOP talking points multiple times to spin Ryan's destructive plan as a way to "preserve" Medicare:
PERINO: Paul Ryan's budget proposal, that included a way to preserve Medicare, has become a lightning rod issue in the 2012 presidential race, now that he has stepped into the race.
PERINO: Is it possibly, maybe, a brilliant move that now we are talking about Medicare and, as Bill Kristol explained, there were cuts of $760 billion, in Obamacare -- in Medicare to pay for Obamacare. Ryan would have preserved it in the trust fund and Romney says "well we'll just deal with that later." Maybe not such a bad idea. [emphasis added]
On the August 14 edition of Fox News' The Five, the co-hosts adopted the same talking points to defend Ryan's plan.
From the August 15 edition of Fox News' The Five:
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Since Congressman Paul Ryan joined the GOP presidential ticket, Fox News has spent days marketing him to the public by fawning over his record, his physique, and whitewashing his record on Medicare.
Fox News' The Five went to bat for Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan by defending his controversial and harmful proposed changes to Medicare while reviving the myth that Obama's health care law will create a review board to ration health care.
Fox News is obscuring the negative impact of Congressman Paul Ryan's Medicare plan on seniors by accusing President Obama and the Democrats of "stoking fears" about the plan. In fact, Ryan's plan would adversely affect current and future seniors, forcing them, among other things, to pay more for prescription drugs, and it would create a voucher system that would drive up health care costs.
From the August 10 edition of Fox News' The Five:
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From the August 8 edition of Fox News' The Five:
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From the August 7 edition of Fox News' The Five:
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From the August 6 edition of Fox News' The Five:
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On Wednesday, the National Hispanic Media Coalition and UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center released a study showing that guests and topics discussed during "The Rush Limbaugh Show," "The Sean Hannity Show," "The Glenn Beck Program," The Savage Nation" and "The John and Ken Show" overwhelmingly marginalized minority groups.
As the study explains:
The findings reveal that the hosts promoted an insular discourse that focused on, for example, anti-immigration, anti-Islam, and pro-Tea Party positions and that this discourse found repetition and amplification through social media.
These viewpoints have far reaching consequences. NHMC President and CEO Alex Nogales told Fox News Latino that the social network surrounding conservative talk radio and Fox News has spread to social media websites resulting in "an echo-chamber of voices, both online and off, that promotes hatred against ethnic, racial and religious groups and the LGBT community on social media web sites."
Using hateful rhetoric, these hosts have cast immigrants as disease ridden, equated pro-immigrant organizations with neo-Nazis, called Islam an "evil religion," claimed the Obama administration is promoting "race riots" and made fun of the ethnicity of Asian-American politicians.
Fox News' afternoon chat show The Five has dipped back into the well of conspiracy theories about President Obama's background. Co-host Andrea Tantaros suggested that Obama might have applied to college as a foreign student, an idea that echoes an April Fool's Day hoax from a years-old chain email.
Tantaros brought up this idea during a discussion of Sen. Harry Reid's statement that a Bain Capital investor told him that Mitt Romney didn't pay taxes for 10 years. As a comparison, Tantaros wondered what would happen if she said that "some girl" called her and told her that Obama had applied as a foreigner.
Fox News host Mike Huckabee floated the idea that Obama might have received loans as a foreign student on The O'Reilly Factor in January.
Also during The Five, co-host Greg Gutfeld delivered a self-described "cheap shot" about Obama's birth certificate and referred to him as "the Kenyan."
From the August 3 edition of The Five:
Fox News is bolstering its anti-tax crusade with bogus numbers about the taxes that American Olympic medalists will have to pay on their prizes.
The bogus numbers come from Grover Norquist's group, Americans for Tax Reform, which claims that gold medalists will owe up to $9,000 on their medal and the accompanying $25,000 cash prize.
But PolitiFact has rated this claim "mostly false." PolitiFact noted that ATR's calculations assume the prizes will be taxed at the top income tax rate, despite the fact that many Olympic athletes earn far less than that. PolitiFact also noted the calculations assume the medalists will fail to deduct any business expenses on their winnings.
Yet Fox uncritically hyped ATR's claim -- a guest from ATR on Your World with Neil Cavuto even speculated that these taxes could result in American competitors deliberately "throwing races" to get silver medals and lower their tax bills:
Fox also promoted ATR's shady statistic on four other shows on August 1: Studio B, The Five, Special Report, and The Fox Report.
Fox News figures, in defending Chick-fil-A from criticism over its aggressive opposition to marriage equality, are covering up the restaurant's anti-gay record, which includes millions in corporate donations to groups that spread misinformation about LGBT individuals and marriages.
Chick-fil-A has drawn criticism since its president, Dan Cathy, came out strongly against marriage equality, saying, among other things, that "we are inviting God's judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at him and say, 'We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage.' "
In response to that criticism, which he referred to as "vicious hate speech and intolerant bigotry," Fox News host Mike Huckabee declared August 1 to be "Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day" and asked his audience to eat at Chick-fil-A today in order to "affirm a business that operates on Christian principles and whose executives are willing to take a stand for the Godly values we espouse."
Fox News figures were quick to take up the charge. Fox host Eric Bolling supported the effort by asking Twitter followers to send him pictures of themselves eating at Chick-fil-A. On the July 31 edition of The Five, Bolling aired a few of the pictures, which he said showed that support for Chick-fil-A has "nothing to do with the gay rights discussion."