Fox News ignored its own role in perpetuating conspiracy theories about President Obama during a segment about Americans who think President Obama is hiding something -- even while engaging in the same behavior during the segment.
On the January 18 edition of Fox News' America Live, host Megyn Kelly featured a Fairleigh Dickinson University poll finding that 63 percent of Americans believe in at least one political conspiracy theory, and 36 percent think that President Obama is hiding information about his background. Kelly pondered what such a result says "about our faith in government, not to mention the media."
But Fox has been a leading player in promoting baseless conspiracy theories about Obama:
Fox hosts falsely claimed that Obama was educated in a Muslim madrassa.
Fox has repeatedly insinuated that Obama is a Mulsim.
Kelly and guest Tucker Carlson went on to reinforce the poll's findings. Kelly suggested those who believe in Obama conspiracy theories are justified in asking questions about his background because Obama has not released his college transcripts, an obsession among right-wing conspiracy-mongers who believe the transcripts will reveal that Obama was a foreign student:
Fox attacked unions over the liquidation of Hostess Brands after negotiations with its bakers union failed, but Fox ignored the fact that the company faced myriad financial problems. Similarly, Fox attacked Wal-Mart employees for striking, but failed to acknowledge the workers' concerns. Fox has run a long-standing campaign against unions.
The contrast between Fox News' coverage of President Obama's first campaign speech after Hurricane Sandy and its coverage of Mitt Romney's rally in Virginia is a study in the network's notion of "fair and balanced." Fox aired Romney's entire speech, which lasted almost 25 minutes, but cut away from Obama's remarks after just six minutes.
By contrast, MSNBC aired both speeches in their entirety -- Obama's speech lasted about 23 minutes -- while CNN aired the entire Obama speech and all but the first two minutes of Romney's comments.
Obama appeared on Thursday in Green Bay, Wisconsin, to describe his agenda in a second term, and Romney was in Roanoke, Virginia, with Republican senatorial candidate George Allen for a campaign rally.
Fox aired Romney's speech from his opening remarks at 10:19 a.m. to his closing comments at 10:42 a.m., when he stated: "This November, I know you people in this room have very clear eyes, you know the consequence of what this election means. You have full hearts, and we can't lose. We need you, Virginia. We've got to take back America. I'm counting on you. George is counting on you. Let's make sure we keep America the hope of the Earth. Thank you so very much."
Four minutes later, following a commercial break, Fox hosted Obama campaign national press secretary Ben LaBolt to discuss Romney's comments.
By contrast, Fox aired the beginning of Obama's speech at 11:44 a.m. but cut away six minutes later at 11:50 a.m. following Obama's urging to the crowd not to boo, but to vote. Happening Now co-host Jon Scott then told viewers to head to FoxNews.com to listen to the rest of Obama's remarks.
Scott then led a discussion with Fox News contributor Tucker Carlson and Democratic strategist Chris Kofinis about Obama's speech, though it had not yet ended, and the tone of the campaign in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
Carlson claimed the hurricane allowed Obama to "play president" and "pretend" that "he hasn't run this incredibly divisive, nasty campaign that literally singles out groups of Americans and blames them for America's problems, which is what he's done."
Scott also took the opportunity to mention the September 11 attack on the U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya, which Fox News has continued to politicize in attacks on Obama.
From the November 1 edition of Fox News' Happening Now:
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From the October 30 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier:
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Fox News has launched a cover up of Mitt Romney's debate falsehood that President Obama waited 14 days before calling the deadly September attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, an act of terror.
While debate moderator Candy Crowley immediately corrected Romney's falsehood during the October 16 presidential debate, pointing out that Obama called the attack an act of terror during his first public comments after it occurred, Fox anchor Bret Baier started the Fox cover up during the network's post-debate coverage. Baier claimed Obama wasn't "specifically speaking about Benghazi" when he referred to the attack on September 12 as an act of terror, but rather was speaking "generically."
Sean Hannity followed suit, claiming that Obama was actually referring to the September 11, 2001, attacks. Straight news anchor John Roberts said that because the remarks "came at the end" of his speech, it's unclear that Obama was referring to Benghazi.
Fox's effort to cover up Romney's debate falsehood continued throughout its October 17 coverage. Watch:
At the same time Fox was trying to deflect from one Romney debate falsehood, they were completely ignoring many other Romney falsehoods from the debate, including his debunked boast that his economic agenda will be responsible for creating 12 million new jobs in 4 years.
From the October 17 edition of Fox Business' Lou Dobbs Tonight:
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From the October 17 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom:
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One problem with embracing conspiracy theories is that once they start to unravel there's little chance of salvaging them. Yet that's when true believers, like Daily Caller editor Tucker Carlson, usually hold on tighter to the wild schemes.
Pressed about obvious holes in the "liberal media bias" allegation that appeared in the wake of the first presidential debate when President Obama was showered with negative coverage by the mainstream press, Carlson insists the relentless lumps Obama took did nothing to undercut the endless conservative cries about media unfairness.
That just doesn't add up. Then again, Carlson recently made the odd claim that journalists were biased because they weren't interested in the Daily Caller's overhyped and underwhelming "exclusive" story on a five-year-old Obama speech that had already been widely reported on. (Being bored while reading The Daily Caller is a form of journalistic prejudice?)
As for Obama's debate coverage, the New York Times' David Carr pointed out that the media's universally negative response to the Democrat's performance took some of the air out of the "liberal media bias" tires.
Carr's point was that if ever there were a time in this campaign for the so-called palace guard, liberal media protectors of Obama to swoop in and defend their wounded candidate, it would've been in the wake of the first debate. Instead the press collectively clobbered Obama. So where's the proof of left-wing bias that Fox News effortlessly feeds off of?
Carlson emailed Carr this response [emphasis added]:
The lesson is that the press doesn't control poll results. It's possible to get elected even if the media are rooting for your opponent, as both Reagan and George W. Bush proved.
It's also true that reporters get bored with the existing storyline, which until last week was that Romney had already lost. So they welcome a chance to talk about something else.
But none of this proves there's no bias. I don't think any fair person who has watched carefully could claim Romney and Obama have been held to the same standard by the press. They haven't.
Wait, what? The liberal press doesn't control the polls? Didn't we just witness an entire right-wing movement boldly declare that the media do control polls and that's why Romney had been trailing Obama, because the media and pollsters colluded to keep the Republican down? Because there is rampant "media polling bias"?
Indeed we did.
In the wake of the Daily Caller's widely derided effort last week to claim the emergence of a video capturing a speech Barack Obama gave in 2007 would jolt this year's presidential campaign, editor Tucker Carlson lashed out at journalists who ignored his dubious endeavor, denouncing them as "contemptible."
After suffering what Salon's Joan Walsh described as an "ethnic nervous breakdown" on Fox News last week as he breathlessly portrayed Obama as a race hustler in the 2007 video ("This guy is whipping up race hatred and fear. Period."), a "fuming" Carlson told the Daily Beast's Howard Kurtz that the media's disinterest in the old Obama clip was "disgusting."
And on Fox, Carlson railed against the "throne sniffers" in the press, the "defenders of Obama," who (wisely) dismissed the Daily Caller/Drudge Report/Fox-hyped video as old news. And not even interesting old news at that.
Carlson has used the Daily Caller flop to whine about liberal media bias. His proof? Journalists won't pay attention to the crackpot items Daily Caller posts. And specifically, journalists wouldn't pay attention to an uninteresting video Carlson hyped last week; a video of a speech that was widely covered in 2007.
Fred Barnes made a similar argument about bias in The Weekly Standard when he wrote an obligatory attack on the press last week for being in the Obama camp and for trying to re-elect the Democrat. Pointing to what he considered to be the glaring examples of obvious bias (it's "massive, palpable, and unprecedented"!), Barnes wrote the press beat up on Mitt Romney for making so-called gaffes, while giving Obama a pass [emphasis added]:
In the treatment of Romney and Obama, the double standard has become habitual. The hunt for gaffes is the defining trait of the media in regard to Romney. But the most egregious gaffe by Obama this year--"You didn't build that"--was ignored for four days and reported only after the conservative press had created a mini-firestorm over the comment.
Like Carlson, Barnes is angry the press didn't immediately take seriously a non-news story the right-wing media manufactured and pushed to attack Obama this summer. In this case, it was the false claim that Obama insulted businessmen with his "you didn't build that" comment.
These latest media attacks from Barnes and Carlson represent an odd chorus to the old liberal bias chant we've heard for decades. And the chorus sounds like this: If reporters don't embrace and report on the utter nonsense that unmoored sites within conservative media create, especially during the campaign season, then journalists are declaring their bias.
Last week it was reported that the television networks and the Associated press this year will skip exit polling in 19 states. Picking states whose outcome are already considered predetermined, and therefore where polling isn't as important, the media consortium cited cost cutting as one of the key reasons behind the move. With more and more people voting early by mail (and from home), the exit pollsters have to shift their focus and spend more time and money contacting voters by phone, which is more expensive
Pretty straightforward, right?
Not this election season. Not when nearly every news cycle brings with it a new sinister conspiracy launched by the far right press, which remains desperate to explain why Obama's campaign hasn't yet completely collapsed under the weight of what they claim to be his historic domestic and international failures.
So on the same day the exit polling story was reported in the Washington Post, Breitbart.com's Big Journalism posted an item announcing that the elimination of the 19 exit polling states represented an obvious media-driven conspiracy (an "insidious plan") concocted by the "goose-stepping" networks and AP to help re-elect President Obama.
What was so evil about the cost-cutting move? Of the 19 states, 15 are red ones where Romney will win easily.
The real reason the consortium has cut these states is that they know that if they report fifteen states coming in for Romney early, independent voters in other states will take notice and be swayed his way.
The networks and the AP just knew that for independent voters who still hadn't voted at night on November 6, if early returns showed Romney had won Louisiana, Kentucky and Georgia, for example, that would prompt undecided voters all over the country to flock to the polls to vote for the Republican, because he'd won states he was supposed to win. (Just like they did with McCain in 2008?) Therefore, the networks and AP had to step in and cut off exit polling in key Romney states.
That's the basis for the Breitbart.com fantasy (announced as fact, of course) about how the media were conspiring yet again to aide Obama's reelection.
What's so remarkable is that that wasn't even the most delusional theory that was launched last week by the far-right press, which has transformed itself during the closing weeks of the campaign into a full-time, partisan fun house.
As imaginative as Breitbart's exit poll scheme was, there's no way it could compete with last Friday's epic job truthers push by Fox News and the rest of the off-kilter far-right media. Without the slightest bit of evidence, Obama's media detractors suggested a truly vast conspiracy had taken hold inside the federal government in an effort to doctor the unemployment numbers and boost Obama's re-election run.
Daily Caller editor-in-chief Tucker Carlson put aside his past reverence of Newt Gingrich to lash out at Gingrich's criticism over the Caller's so-called "bombshell video" showing then-Sen. Barack Obama talking about race issues in front of African-American clergy members in 2007. Carlson and others hyping the five-year-old video claimed it was evidence of "divisive class warfare and racially-charged rhetoric."
During an appearance on Fox News' America Live, while attempting to defend his decision to release the video, Carlson was made aware of Gingrich's criticism. Carlson responded: "Who cares what Newt Gingrich said?"
Gingrich yesterday discounted the video, agreeing that Obama's record as president has a "far greater impact" on the election. Gingrich said: "I don't think this particular speech is definitive."
Other conservatives have also questioned the video's importance, saying the 2007 speech holds little significance in the current presidential race.
Carlson's dismissive response is in contrast with his past comments praising Gingrich. In 2009, he referred to Gingrich as "the soul" of the GOP and "the intellectual center of the Republican Party -- the smartest, most energetic guy." More recently, Carlson praised Gingrich for the "great job" he did calling Obama the "food stamp president."
Media figures are dismissing video from a 2007 Obama speech despite Matt Drudge, Sean Hannity, and Tucker Carlson hyping the video as damning evidence of racially-charged rhetoric. Even some conservatives agree that the video has little significance in the presidential race.
It's rather amazing that Barack Obama has been on the national political stage for more than eight years and the far-right media, committed to hating the president with a peculiar passion, still haven't figured out the race angle. Or specifically, they haven't figured out which race-baiting angle they prefer to play against him.
The jarring dichotomy played out yesterday. That morning, conservative George Will argued in his Washington Post column that Obama's race would shield him from a re-election defeat because Americans will vote for him because he's black.
Then in the late afternoon and evening a media kerfuffle broke out after the habitually untrustworthy Drudge Report hyped a five-year-old video of Obama speaking at Hampton University. The unmistakable message from the overly excited members of GOP Noise machine on Tuesday was that the video "could dramatically impact" the election because it would showcase Obama as an angry man beset by racial grievances (it doesn't). The clear inference being that Americans won't vote for him because he's revealing his true black nature.
Here's how MSNBC's Rachel Maddow decoded the right-wing attack last night: "People didn't actually know [Obama] was this black, and if they had known he was this black they never would've elected him."
So which is it? Will voters excuse Obama's faults and give him a second term based on his race? Or will voters penalize Obama on Election Day based on his race?
The utter confusion and contradictory allegations shouldn't be surprising given that Obama's harshest opponents have been grappling for years, unsuccessfully, with the issue of race and how best to try to deploy it for political gain. They've alternately declared Obama a "racist" and have wallowed in the worst kind of ugly race baiting, while pre-emptively condemning any critics who dare call them out.
The us-versus-them cauldron of bigotry was purposefully reignited last night with the non-news of an Obama speech given in 2007 to an audience of African-American clergy. It was a speech that was open to the press at the time and was widely reported on, including on Fox News.
From the October 3 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
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