Fox News has fired paid contributor and market analyst Tobin Smith for receiving compensation to promote the stock of Petrosonic Energy, a violation of network policy. According to a Media Matters review, Smith's company, NBT Equities Research, also received compensation for promoting numerous other companies through his website and conservative newsletters, and used his Fox News credentials to hawk volatile stocks to conservatives.
MarketWatch's Chuck Jaffe reported that Smith issued "sponsored investment research" to tout Petrosonic's stock in a 20-page mailer, for which NBT received $50,000. The paid endorsement is against Fox's policy that "no contributor to FBN [Fox Business Network], nor his/her firm, and/or family members are allowed to accept financial consideration of any kind whatsoever to issue research, advertisements, or to otherwise promote individual stocks or securities." In a post today on his website, Smith acknowledged that he is "no longer a Fox contributor" but defended his "business of sponsored research for uncovered emerging growth companies." He also wrote: "For the record, my last contributor agreement with Fox News did NOT include any exclusion from me or my company sponsored research. But that is water under the bridge."
MarketWatch -- which, like Fox News, is owned by News Corp. -- noted that companies hire people like Smith for sponsored research "to help small stocks find a market using fluff-and-shine hyperbolic chatter" at novice investors.
Smith's company produces voluminous quantities of sponsored content. In June alone, NBT's website has featured posts by Smith with compensation disclaimers for GlyEco ("200,000 options of GlyEco"), Petrosonic ("$50,000"), Brazil Minerals ($40,000), Barfresh Food Group ("$35,000 and 75,000 restricted shares"), and Pulse Beverage ("$50,000").
Smith also regularly pitches paid stock promotions to conservatives through right-wing email newsletters. Media Matters identified at least six recent instances in which Smith's NBT Group was compensated to promote a company's stock via Townhall.com newsletters. The companies include Medient Studios in 2013 ("225,000 shares"); BOLDFACE Group in 2013 ($50,000); IceWeb in 2012 ($50,000 via a third-party firm); Plandai Biotechnology in 2012 ("$30,000 monthly and 1.4 million shares for a one year"); Replicel Life Sciences in 2012 ("a fee of over $1000.00 in cash"); and Petrosonic in 2012 and 2013 ($50,000).
Since mid-December 2012, Smith has sent compensated Petrosonic advertisements to subscribers of email lists for Townhall.com, National Review, Dick Morris Reports, and CainTV, which is run by Fox News contributor Herman Cain.
MarketWatch wrote that Smith's Petrosonic advertising pitches ignored several problems with the company's finances, including its lack of revenues, "Petrosonic's rising losses, negative cash-flow and the 'going-concern letter' from auditors who think there is 'substantial doubt' in Petrosonic's ability to survive."
Other stocks that Smith promoted to conservative newsletter subscribers paint a similarly rosy picture of volatile companies with low share prices. At least two stocks are now virtually worthless: BOLDFACE Group closed yesterday at $.06 and IceWeb closed at $.02. Two other companies, Plandai Biotechnology and Replicel, are both trading at between approximately $.50 and $.65. And Medient Studios is trading at near $1 a share.
On the September 29 edition of Fox News' Bulls and Bears, host Brenda Buttner and fellow Fox News contributors persisted in fear-mongering about a United Nations proposal for implementation of a "global tax" and failed to report on a statement from the U.S. Mission to the U.N. that threw cold water on the claim.
Buttner argued to a panel of Fox News contributors that the U.N. global tax proposal "could happen, couldn't it?" She was referring to a FoxNews.com report on the United Nations, which summarized the tax proposal as the following:
A 1 percent tax on billionaires around the world. A tax on all currency trading in the U.S. dollar, the euro, the Japanese yen and the British pound sterling. Another "tiny" tax on all financial transactions, including stock and bond trading, and trading in financial derivatives. New taxes on carbon emissions and on airline tickets. A royalty on all undersea mineral resources extracted more than 100 miles offshore of any nation's territory.
Approximately 24 hours after this story was published, a spokesman for the U.S. Mission to the United Nations sent the following "unsolicited statement" to Fox News:
The United States opposes global taxes because we believe that any source of revenue should remain under the control of national authorities. This is an idea that has been kicked around for years. Fortunately, it hasn't gone anywhere, nor will it.
In fact, Fox News reported a similar story over a decade ago, but the host of Bulls and Bears Brenda Buttner, nor her panel -- consisting of Gary B. Smith, Stephane Fitch, Kyle Harrington, Jonas Max Ferris, and Tobin Smith -- presented the facts of the global tax initiative.
Instead of acknowledging the statement or the tax proposal's impotent history, Buttner's panel - consisting of Gary B. Smith, Stephane Fitch, Kyle Harrington, Jonas Max Ferris, and Tobin Smith -- largely buttressed Buttner's fear-mongering about global taxes. Only Fitch questioned the necessity of the segment, arguing that "it's not going to happen," in part because "the U.N. has no taxing authority."
From the July 21 edition of Fox News' Bulls & Bears:
Loading the player reg...
Natural gas can help the U.S. transition away from reliance on coal in the near-term if it is produced responsibly. But conservative media have dismissed the risks involved with the rapid spread of natural gas extraction to push for deregulation, attack the Obama administration, and ignore the need for a comprehensive energy policy to transition to renewable energy.
Fox News' campaign to bolster Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who faces a recall election on June 5, continued today when host Brenda Buttner, along with contributors Tobin Smith and Gary B. Smith, touted Walker's jobs creation claims as fact though official labor data show that the state has shed tens of thousands of jobs in the past year.
From the June 2 edition of Bulls & Bears:
Walker recently released jobs figures that claim Wisconsin gained 23,608 jobs in 2011, up from his original claims of 23,321. But those figures are contradicted by a report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which shows that Wisconsin actually lost 33,900 jobs during that period, from December 2010 to December 2011. On April 24, the bureau released data showing that from March 2011 to March 2012, Wisconsin lost 23,900 jobs. And on May 18, the bureau reported that the "largest over-the-month decrease in employment occurred in Maryland (-6,000), followed by Wisconsin (-5,900)."
As the Christian Science Monitor explained:
Wisconsin lost 23,900 jobs between March 2011 and March 2012, according to data released Tuesday by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. The state's lead in job losses is significantly greater than the rest of the 50 states: No other state lost more than 3,500 jobs.
The majority of the losses in Wisconsin, 17,800, were in the public sector. However, the state lost more private-sector jobs, 6,100, than any other state. The only other states to report private-sector job losses in the same time period (instead of private-sector gains) were Mississippi and Rhode Island.
In 1994, the Environmental Protection Agency established an Environmental Justice Small Grants Program, which disburses about $1 million in grants every year to non-profit organizations and Native American tribes in the disadvantaged communities that are disproportionately affected by pollution. The grants help communities learn about and find solutions for local environmental and public health problems.
Following a Daily Caller report, Fox News repeatedly lambasted the program as "government waste" that "we can't afford." Fox's Tobin Smith even baselessly claimed that there is "hundreds of billions of dollars of waste" in "these things." In 2011, the grant program disbursed $1 million in funding - around .0000003% of federal expenditures. So for those trying to follow Fox's logic: We can't afford $1 million for local programs supporting environmental and public health, but if you try to reconsider $70 billion in tax cuts for the wealthy, it's "class warfare."
Fox predictably failed to mention that this grant program existed throughout the Bush administration. In highlighting several program successes, Bush's EPA described how a $15,000 grant helped an economically disadvantaged area in Michigan that is home to several Native American reservations collect over 47 tons of hazardous waste -- more than the county waste facility collected over the previous seven years.
Sheriff Paul Babeu of Pinal County, Arizona, a prominent anti-immigration advocate who recently formed an exploratory committee to consider a run for Congress, is a frequent guest on Fox News, and has used his platform to promote and fundraise for his potential congressional bid. Babeu is just the latest in a long line of Republican candidates that Fox News has enthusiastically promoted.
From the September 1 edition of Fox Business' America's Nightly Scoreboard:
Loading the player reg...
Fox and other conservative media claim that CERN's study of cosmic rays "concluded that it's the sun, not human activity," causing global warming. In fact, at this point the research "actually says nothing about a possible cosmic-ray effect on clouds and climate," according to the lead author, and it certainly doesn't refute human-induced global warming.
From the September 24 edition of Fox Business' America's Nightly Scoreboard:
Loading the player reg...
During a segment yesterday on Fox Business' America's Nightly Scoreboard, guest host Tobin Smith and guests Monica Crowley and Tim Carney portrayed U.S. Senate candidate Sharron Angle (R-NV), who served four terms in the Nevada Assembly, as a "political newbie."
Carney, a conservative Washington Examiner columnist, said Angle is having some problems because she's a "political newbie" who is "not a seasoned politician." Crowley, a Fox News contributor, similarly claimed Angle isn't an "establishment politician" so she's getting support because "the American people are done with professional politicians, and they want normal folks."
When Democratic strategist Tara Dowdell pointed out that Angle actually served in elected office, Smith quickly dismissed her, stating, "Well, but you know -- she was a senator [sic] in Nevada, that doesn't --" Smith previously told Angle in an interview that she was his "hero" and an "inspiration."
Angle herself has noted that she is not a "political newbie." On a widely criticized softball interview on Fox & Friends in July, co-host Gretchen Carlson introduced Angle as "somebody who really has not been in politics before." Angle corrected Carlson, stating: "Well, I really have been in politics for about the last 12 years. I started out on a school board, and then I served four terms in the Nevada state legislature. So it's not really the first time that I've ever been here."
In addition to serving as the minority whip in the Nevada Assembly, Angle also unsuccessfully ran for U.S. Congress in 2006. Fox News' July claim that Angle is a political newcomer drew criticism from veteran Nevada journalist Jon Ralston, and Las Vegas' Fox affiliate.
From the July 19 edition of Fox Business' America's Nightly Scoreboard:
Loading the player reg...
Conservative commentators don't let facts get in the way of a jab at openly gay Democratic lawmaker Barney Frank.
On yesterday's edition of Fox Business Network's America's Nightly Scoreboard, guest host Tobin Smith discussed a 402-1 vote in favor of a motion to refer a resolution calling for an investigation of former Rep. Eric Massa (D-NY) to the House ethics committee. Fox News contributor Monica Crowley said of the vote: "I want to know who the one member of Congress was that voted against" this. Smith replied, "I'm thinking Barney Frank, but maybe that's just me." Crowley responded, "Good one, Toby, good one."
Haha, get it? After you've picked yourself off the floor from laughing, here's an actual fact no one would know after watching Scoreboard: Barney Frank voted aye. Rep. Chaka Fattah (D - PA) was the sole no vote, telling the Atlantic that "it was another distraction from the major issues of the day."
A Fox News Bulls & Bears segment discussing Republican Sen. Tom Coburn (OK)'s amendment to the health reform bill that would force members of Congress to join the public option if it becomes law focused on the supposed "hypocrisy" of Democrats supporting a public option that they would not enroll in. In fact, despite the alleged efforts of GOP Senators to keep Democrats from signing on to the amendment, Democratic Sens. Sherrod Brown, Christopher Dodd, Al Franken, and Barbara Mikulski have since become co-sponsors -- with Democratic co-sponsors now outnumbering Republican co-sponsors of the amendment.
In recent days, numerous Fox Business Network hosts, reporters, and contributors have repeatedly spread the debunked claim that the economic recovery act includes funding to protect the salt marsh harvest mouse in the San Francisco wetlands. In fact, the act does not contain any language directing funds to San Francisco wetlands or the salt marsh harvest mouse living in them, a fact that the House Republican leadership aide who reportedly originated the claim has reportedly acknowledged.