Fox News' Brian Kilmeade whitewashed the history of the Iraq war, misleadingly implying the diplomatic community supported military intervention, to claim that the Obama administration should respond to the conflict in Syria with similar military force.
Amid reports that the Syrian government launched a possible attack with chemical weapons against civilians, the Obama administration announced it is gathering more information and waiting for the findings of a United Nations investigation into the attack before taking action. But before the facts have become clear, media figures have rushed to push for U.S. military intervention against the Bashar Assad regime. The New York Times reported that while some senior officials "from the Pentagon, the State Department and the intelligence agencies" think intervention is necessary, others "argue that military action now would be reckless and ill timed."
Fox News hosts dismissed these experts' concerns to beat the drums of war, with Fox & Friends guest co-host Tucker Carlson falsely claiming "there's no doubt now [chemical weapons] have been used," and co-host Brian Kilmeade criticizing the Obama administration's response to the Syrian conflict for not resembling the Bush administration's invasion of Iraq. Kilmeade went on to misleadingly suggest the United Nations supported Bush's actions in Iraq, claiming the 2003 invasion gave "the U.N. teeth for the first time in their history":
KILMEADE: It's just unbelievable that they get on President Bush for saying to Saddam Hussein, you have violated 13 separate U.N. Resolutions. We are willing to back that up and give the U.N. teeth for the first time in their history. And he goes and does that. And the message was sent throughout the Middle East, if you cross a line, there will be action. Even Bill Clinton and Bush 41 enforced a no-fly zone for almost a decade because we backed up what we said we would. And now, our words mean absolutely nothing. You can cross us, you can cross that line and we give you a stern tweet as a retort.
In fact, the United Nations Security Council refused to endorse the invasion of Iraq, and then-U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan "warned the US and its allies a week before the invasion in March 2003 that military action would violate the UN charter." The Security Council had previously told the Iraqi government that there would be "consequences" if they did not meet with certain demands, but as The Guardian reported, Annan said "it should have been up to the council to determine what those consequences were."
Annan also made clear in the year following the invasion that according to the U.N., U.S. military intervention in Iraq was "illegal":
Mr. Annan was repeatedly asked whether the war was "illegal." "Yes," he finally said, "I have indicated it is not in conformity with the UN Charter, from our point of view, and from the Charter point of view it was illegal."
The Secretary-General said the war in Iraq and its aftermath had brought home painful lessons about the importance of resolving use-of-force issues jointly through the UN. "I think that in the end everybody is concluding that it is best to work together with allies and through the UN to deal with some of those issues.
"And I hope we do not see another Iraq-type operation for a long time," the Secretary-General told the interviewer, noting that such action needed UN approval and a much broader support of the international community.
The Bush administration's rush to invade Iraq was based on the claim that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and was still pursuing a nuclear weapons program, a claim that has been thoroughly discredited. U.N. weapons experts told CNN in 2004 that they had cautioned the Bush administration prior to the invasion that any evidence of WMDs in Iraq was "shaky," but that the administration "chose to ignore" the lack of solid evidence in favor of war -- a war that lasted nearly a decade and resulted in thousands of American deaths and the deaths of many more Iraqis.
But rather than wait for United Nations inspectors and the U.S. intelligence community to determine whether or not chemical weapons have been used in Syria, and then to assess the best course of action in response, Fox News hosts would rather rush into the conflict and forget the past.
Fox News hosts dismissed security experts and Congressional Republicans who praised the Obama administration's decision to temporarily close embassies to protect Americans from terror threats, suggesting the move was a "gross overreaction" and falsely attacking the administration for a "cover-up" of the September 2012 attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi.
The State Department and the administration announced August 2 that 22 embassies and consulates in the Middle East and Africa would be temporarily closed over the weekend to protect the Americans working there from suspected terror threats identified by the intelligence community. Nineteen embassies were to remain closed through the week. CNN reported that hundreds of additional security forces have been deployed to the U.S. Embassy in Yemen, where officials say the threat is greatest, and U.S. military forces in the region have been put on a higher state of alert.
Fox & Friends co-hosts Steve Doocy and Tucker Carlson attacked the administration for closing the embassies, suggesting that the move was a "gross overreaction to some intel" and the Benghazi attacks, falsely accusing the administration of engaging in a political "cover-up" while not addressing terror threats around the world:
CARLSON: You wonder if they're drawing the right lesson from Benghazi. It seems to me the real lesson from Benghazi is don't lie, and don't stage a cover-up. But don't formulate your policy based on the last war. Right? I mean, just because Benghazi happened doesn't mean we need to close 28 embassies and consulates.
But security experts and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle praised the administration's decision to close the embassies, particularly in light of the Benghazi attacks and the desire to protect Americans overseas. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Martin Dempsey explained that the intelligence community had uncovered "a significant threat stream" that justified the closures, and Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said, "The administration's call to close these embassies . . . was actually a very smart call." USA Today also cited Seth Jones, the associate director of the International Security and Defense Policy Center at the RAND Corp., who said the closures are a result of "a high threat level based on credible intelligence."
Even Rep. Peter King (R-NY), who leads the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence and who has previously been critical of the Obama administration's response to the Benghazi attacks, noted, "what they are doing now is what has to be done. They'd be derelict if they were not. And you know we can't criticize them for doing too little with Benghazi and now criticize them for doing too much."
Fox News has repeatedly pushed falsehoods and lies about the Benghazi attacks, with contributors praying for evidence of a "cover-up" and calling for further probes into the attacks despite the fact that there have already been at least six different investigations, none of which have found any evidence that the response to Benghazi was politically motivated or hid the realities of the attacks.
Fox's attack echoes numerous other conservative media outlets turning the embassy closures into political criticism of the Obama administration.
From the August 4 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends Sunday:
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Fox has blasted civil rights leaders and organizations as "race hustlers" for taking action in response to George Zimmerman being found not guilty of murder in the killing of 17-year-old African-American teenager Trayvon Martin.
Even after a juror in George Zimmerman's trial for killing Trayvon Martin said that Florida's Stand Your Ground self-defense law influenced the outcome of the case, Fox News hosts and contributors continue to claim otherwise as a means to attack Attorney General Eric Holder for opposing such laws.
Fox News and the Drudge Report are ignoring years of Republicans obstructing the implementation of health care reform to accuse the Obama administration of delaying the law for political gain, in the process dismissing the fact that businesses are praising the administration's move.
The Treasury Department announced on June 2 that the Obama administration elected to delay the deadline for large businesses, which employ 50 people or more, to offer health insurance to their employees from January 2014 to January 2015. Treasury explained that its decision was made in part following consultations with businesses, who had expressed concerns about the deadline and requested more time to implement the new requirements under the Affordable Care Act.
Fox News and the Drudge Report reacted to the announcement by baselessly claiming that the administration's decision was politically motivated and was linked to the approaching 2014 midterm elections. During the June 2 edition of Fox News' Hannity, guest host Tucker Carlson claimed he did not believe the delay until 2015 was an accident, saying to his guests "It seems to me they have been mindful of the political calendar, Joe, from day one ... You can't look, either of you, look at me straight in the eye and say that political considerations played no role in the implementation of the less popular parts of this incredibly complex law."
On the June 3 Fox & Friends, guest co-host Clayton Morris similarly suggested that the decision to push back the deadline was political, asking "The real question is, is it political? Because of course you have the 2014 midterm elections and you have mass layoffs," while co-host Brian Kilmeade claimed it was purposefully delayed "until after the election." Later in the show, on-screen test read "Political Ploy?"
The Drudge Report also alleged that the decision was political:
In fact, as the Washington Post reported, the delay is due to years of legal and political challenges to the law from conservatives (emphasis added):
The decision comes as a result of years of bumps and setbacks for the overhaul, including legal challenges and political opposition that have hampered its implementation. Last summer, the Supreme Court upheld the law but struck down a mandatory expansion of Medicaid. State officials and businesses held off changing their policies through the 2012 presidential campaign because Obama's GOP opponent, Mitt Romney, had promised to repeal the law.
Some populous states, including Florida and Texas, have decided not to set up exchanges, putting a far bigger burden on federal health officials to serve Americans. The exchanges are being designed to offer a variety of insurance plans; the federal insurance exchange is set to begin in less than three months.
The Wall Street Journal similarly reported that "legal and political challenges" from the right meant businesses did not have enough time to implement the new requirements:
Some companies had bet the law was going to be overturned by the Supreme Court last year, or by a new presidential administration after the 2012 election. After it withstood those legal and political challenges, some firms said there was too little time remaining before the provision was due to kick in.
Business groups -- including the conservative Chamber of Commerce -- are praising the decision, for it allows businesses time to adapt to the new rules. The New York Times reported:
Employer groups were quick to applaud the delay. At the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has strongly opposed the law, Randy Johnson, senior vice president for labor, immigration and employee benefits, said in a statement, "The administration has finally recognized the obvious -- employers need more time and clarification of the rules of the road before implementing the employer mandate.
E. Neil Trautwein, a vice president of the National Retail Federation, said the delay "will provide employers and businesses more time to update their health care coverage without threat of arbitrary punishment."
From the July 2 edition of Fox News' Hannity:
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Fox News falsely suggested that 56 percent of car companies that received loans through the same government program as electric automakers Tesla and Fisker have failed. In fact, most of the automakers are up and running -- 56 percent of those that asked for loans have gone under, indicating that the Department of Energy exercised due diligence in reviewing applicants.
This week, Fox & Friends Sunday claimed that "56% Of Carmakers Who Got Federal Help Fizzled," citing a Daily Caller story on the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing (ATVM) loan program. Co-host Tucker Carlson, who also serves as editor-in-chief at the Daily Caller, later opined "If I run a venture capital firm ... and in four years, 56 percent of the companies I invest your money in go bankrupt ... I would be in deep trouble." He concluded, "the government should not be in the venture capital business. They're not good at it."
However, Fox News reversed the success of the program: 56 percent of the identifiable car companies that applied for loan guarantees have ceased operations, but most of the car companies that received these loan guarantees are up and running. Venture capitalists, on the other hand, expect a successful investment strategy to yield a 70 percent failure rate.
Fox News hyped the candidacy of its former contributor Pete Snyder, calling him "a really good guy."
On May 17, the Virginia Republican Convention began. Over the course of the weekend, Virginia Republicans -- as described by a May 17 Washington Post article -- are gathering "to pick nominees for lieutenant governor and attorney general, and rally behind Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II for governor."
One of the candidates for lieutenant governor is Snyder, a former Fox News contributor, whose campaign website -- as of May 18 -- features that fact in a front page box. The box links to a page that details Snyder's experience at Fox and includes a laudatory quotation from Fox News chairman Roger Ailes:
On the May 18 edition of Fox & Friends Saturday, co-host Tucker Carlson hyped the candidacy of Snyder, trumpeting his chances of winning and calling him "a really good guy." Co-host Alisyn Camerota praised Carlson's "shout out":
CARLSON: I want to say good morning to our old friend Pete Snyder. You may remember, Pete was a Fox News contributor for quite a while. And I just wanted to note, today in the Commonwealth of Virginia is the Republican Party's meeting where the nominee for lieutenant governor will be chosen. Pete is in the running. It looks pretty good for him. It's just neat when people you know and like sort of ascend up the ladder politically. This man could be the lieutenant governor of Virginia and when he is, I'm calling him for dinner.
CARLSON: A good guy. Pete Snyder is a really good guy.
CAMEROTA: That's great
CARLSON: It's just nice to see that.
CAMEROTA: Nice shout out.
Fox News and Fox Business previously portrayed electric carmaker Tesla Motors as another "failure" of the Obama administration's green energy investments. But since it is now clear that the company is doing well, both networks have developed amnesia about its federal loan, with Tucker Carlson claiming that "they don't take any government subsidies at all."
Tesla recently reiterated its plans to repay a loan granted through the Department of Energy's Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing program ahead of schedule. This followed a series of positive developments, including the company's first quarterly profits and a shining review of the Model S sedan by Consumer Reports. Financial services firm Morgan Stanley recently told Raw Story that "Many funds approach an investment opportunity by first asking: does the company do something better or cheaper than anybody else? Tesla is beginning to convince the market it may do both."
But no matter how Tesla fares in the coming years, it seems likely that Fox News will change its reporting to follow suit. In 2012, Fox News' claim that Tesla was a "failed" company was eventually adopted by the campaign of then-presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Later, Fox News admitted Tesla was a "success", eventually forgetting its federal loan in the process.
Video created by Max Greenberg and John Kerr.
From the April 6 edition of Fox News Channel's Fox & Friends Saturday:
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From the April 2 edition of Courtside Entertainment Group's The Laura Ingraham Show:
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Fox News continues to ignore reports that undermine the Daily Caller smear -- promoted by Fox News -- that Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) patronized prostitutes on a trip to the Dominican Republic. On March 22, media outlets reported that the Daily Caller's original named source, Melanio Figueroa, alleged that the Daily Caller and other media outlets paid and pressured him to fabricate the accusations -- an allegation that Fox News has not covered.
The Washington Post's latest story on the allegations against Menendez reported:
A top Dominican law enforcement official said Friday that a local lawyer has reported being paid by someone claiming to work for the conservative Web site the Daily Caller to find prostitutes who would lie and say they had sex for money with Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.).
The lawyer told Dominican investigators that a foreign man, who identified himself as "Carlos," had offered him $5,000 to find and pay women in the Caribbean nation willing to make the claims about Menendez, according to Jose Antonio Polanco, district attorney for the La Romana region, where the investigation is being conducted.
The Daily Caller issued a statement Friday saying that the information allegedly provided by the Dominican lawyer, Melanio Figueroa, was false.
These revelations demonstrate Figueroa's lack of credibility and thus cast even more doubt on the Daily Caller's already-shaky story, as Figueroa was the only named source in their original story outlining the allegations. Responding to this latest Post story, along with other reports from the Post throwing doubt on the Caller's reporting, CNN media critic Howard Kurtz called the story "discredited" and said that the Daily Caller "owes the senators and its readers an apology."
A transcript search, including a search of the Nexis database, of Fox News programming on March 22 and of Fox's media criticism show Fox News Watch on March 23 shows no mention of Menendez. This continues a pattern of Fox covering the Daily Caller's allegations less and less as the credibility of the story continues to implode, even though the network covered the allegations in at least 20 segments after the initial report was made in November.
Tucker Carlson, who is a Fox contributor and editor-in-chief of the Daily Caller, has not defended his publication's smear of Menendez on the network since March 5, when he appeared on The O'Reilly Factor and called the Daily Caller reporting "straightforward, traditional journalism." He also said that his website's sources "received no money from anyone." Carlson has appeared on Fox News at least three times in the past two weeks -- as a guest on Special Report on March 11 and on America's Newsroom on March 13, and as guest host of Hannity on March 15. The Daily Caller's discredited allegations against Sen. Menendez were never mentioned during those appearances.
Fox's effort to cover up its contributor's floundering story, which Fox was previously happy to promote, raises new questions about Carlson's future relationship with the network.
The Daily Caller's lurid, fraudulent story of Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) patronizing Dominican prostitutes has taken yet another hit as the lawyer representing the prostitutes, Melanio Figueroa, has reportedly let loose with a variety of outlandish story-changing allegations, among them that he was paid and pressured by various media outlets (the Daily Caller among them) to fabricate the whole affair. Figueroa's credibility is now non-existent, which only serves to reinforce how wildly irresponsible the Daily Caller was to run with the story in the first place.
The Washington Post reported on March 22 that a "top Dominican law enforcement official" said that Figueroa told investigators that in autumn 2012 he had been approached by a man claiming to be from the Daily Caller and offered $5,000 to "find prostitutes who would lie and say they had sex for money with Sen. Robert Menendez." The Daily Caller adamantly denied the allegations, which as of yet lack evidence and appear far-fetched, and the Post acknowledged that the "account provided that Dominican authorities said they received from Figueroa could not be independently confirmed by The Washington Post." The Post also noted that Figueroa's new story is a reversal from his previous denials of having made the whole thing up.
The Daily Caller, meanwhile, has published a story pushing back against Figueroa, reporting that he "blamed four news outlets -- CNN, The Daily Caller, Telemundo and Univision -- for allegedly encouraging him to fabricate false accusations about Menendez." The Caller also reported that "CNN and Univision both issued statements forcefully denying Figueroa's accusations," and pointed out that the attorney has repeatedly contradicted himself in recent days as the Menendez story has collapsed.
Fox News contributor and Daily Caller editor-in-chief Tucker Carlson added to the ongoing Republican civil war by calling conservative nonprofits "parasites" on conservatism who have consumed "literally billions of dollars" and "achieved virtually nothing in the last thirty years." Carlson also remarked, "If there's a more useless group of people in the world, I'm not aware of it."
Since Mitt Romney's defeat last November, Republicans have been feuding among themselves over the future of the party and conservative ideals. The fight exploded when Karl Rove and his allies at American Crossroads announced plans to, in the words of The New York Times, "recruit seasoned candidates and protect Senate incumbents from challenges by far-right conservatives and Tea Party enthusiasts." Conservative media figures conservative groups like FreedomWorks have hit Rove over the project. FreedomWorks raised nearly $41 million last year and has come under heavy scrutiny recently due to bizarre internal feuding and questions about its finances.
Carlson made his remarks on the March 18 broadcast of WMAL's Mornings on the Mall during a discussion about the Republican infighting. From the program:
CARLSON: There are a ton of sleazy consultants out there. A lot of them are getting rich, I live near a lot of them, so I can vouch for their richness, for sure. The irony, though, is that these charges are being thrown by almost always people in the conservative nonprofit sector, and if there's a more useless group of people in the world, I'm not aware of it. I mean, conservative nonprofits in Washington consume over time, over the last forty years, literally, literally billions of dollars. And the country has become much more liberal in every single way.
So they have failed to do anything other than, you know, buy weekend houses and send their kids to college. I mean they've profited from it. But they haven't won, you know, any important ideological victory in thirty years. So like, wait a second. They need to reexamine their own status. I mean, these are parasites too, as far as I'm concerned. They really are.
LARRY O'CONNOR (CO-HOST): Just a quick follow up because you're making it sound like this is really a battle over money. Are you saying those nonprofits are hammering consultants like Karl Rove because they don't like all that money being donated to -- to the consultants instead of going to the nonprofits?
CARLSON: I'm saying they ought to take the plank out of their eye before they point out the speck in their neighbors, I guess is what I'm really saying. I mean, I think there are a lot of really sincere, decent conservatives working in nonprofits, I know them, of course. I don't want to make a blanket indictment. However, they as a group have achieved virtually nothing in the last thirty years. I know, because I've lived here. And look at the results. Our taxes are higher, more people are pro-choice. I mean -- you know, like all their stated goals have not been achieved. And they've consumed a huge amount of money doing it, so it's time for some serious soul-searching. And for those people to get up and start screaming about how other people are wasting money and aren't sincere and are cynical, I mean, it's nauseating. To me, I'm not a consultant or an employee of a nonprofit so I think I can see it with some clarity, there are a lot of parasites on the, you know, on conservatism.
Carlson's remarks were highlighted on the video website of the conservative nonprofit Media Research Center. The MRC is headed by conservative activist Brent Bozell, who has harshly criticized Rove and discouraged donors from giving money to his group. In addition to heading the MRC, Bozell is also the chairman of ForAmerica, a conservative nonprofit.