In a misleading tease for a segment about universal pre-kindergarten, Fox News host Tucker Carlson falsely claimed that President Obama has vowed "to mandate universal preschool programs."
On the February 14 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Tucker Carlson said before cutting to commercial break, "President Obama vowing to mandate universal preschool programs" and asked if the government has a "right to control your children." Obama's push for early education programs, however, does not include mandating them, as he specifically laid out in his State of the Union address when he asked Congress "to help states make high-quality pre-K available to every four-year-old." And as Jonathan Cohn at The New Republic points out, "[P]articipation in the program would be strictly voluntary. Nobody is mandating that anybody go to preschool."
A man accused of violating Washington, D.C.'s gun laws is conservative media's latest dubious "hero" in its ongoing effort to attack stronger gun laws.
Right-wing media are defending a Washington, D.C. man on trial for possessing unregistered ammunition by making a flawed comparison between his situation and NBC News host David Gregory's display of a high-capacity ammunition magazine on Meet the Press following the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre.
Conservative media's complaint that Washington, D.C. financial advisor Mark Witaschek faces trial while Gregory faced no criminal charges ignores that those two situations rest upon entirely different circumstances.
On the December 23, 2012, edition of Meet the Press, Gregory showed, for demonstration purposes, a 30-round high-capacity ammunition magazine like the one used in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that claimed 26 lives nine days earlier. In Washington, it is illegal to own a magazine that holds more than 10 rounds. NBC apparently ran the segment after a miscommunication with law enforcement. Gregory's display of the magazine angered conservative media including Washington Times senior opinion editor Emily Miller who wrote that Gregory "should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law." In January 2013, Washington prosecutors announced that Gregory would not be charged with a crime in a letter that explained, "Influencing our judgment in this case, among other things, is our recognition that the intent of the temporary possession and short display of the magazine was to promote the First Amendment purpose of informing an ongoing public debate about firearms policy in the United States."
Witaschek's legal problems began in the summer of 2012. Following alarming allegations that Witaschek threatened his "estranged wife" with a gun, police visited his home on two occasions. During both visits, police found unregistered ammunition in Witaschek's home. In Washington, D.C., only individuals who have registered firearms may possess ammunition. Witaschek was charged with violating Washington's gun laws. The charge from the first police visit was thrown out because even though Witaschek consented to a search, the visit was conducted without a warrant. Witaschek was offered a plea deal that included no jail time and a $500 fine to resolve the charge from the second police visit, which was performed with a warrant. Witaschek rejected the offer and plans to go to trial on the remaining charge.
Now that the Republican Party has settled on a set of principles to guide its action on immigration reform, media outlets have turned to Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) as a credible source on immigration reform, validating his arguments that reform will slow U.S. economic recovery and further depress Americans' wages. These talking points, however, have been repeatedly discredited as experts agree that immigration reform would have a positive impact on the economy and Americans' wages.
As The Washington Post reported, Republican leaders released a list of "principles" on immigration reform, declaring that "there would be 'no special path' to citizenship for illegal immigrants, but that, in general, they should be allowed to 'live legally and without fear' in the United States if they meet a list of tough requirements and rules." The statement concluded that "none of this can happen before specific enforcement triggers have been implemented to fulfill our promise to the American people that from here on, our immigration laws will indeed be enforced."
In reporting on the debate, media are validating Sessions' bogus economic arguments against reform. Discussing the issue on Fox News, for example, contributor Tucker Carlson highlighted Sessions' arguments, saying that Sessions is "no liberal and is not either some kind of fiery demagogue populist" and that "he's making an intellectual case against more immigration in a down economy."
CBS News similarly highlighted an "analysis" by Sessions, reporting that it "said increasing the number of immigrants would hurt an already weak economy, lower wages and increase unemployment. He cited White House adviser Gene Sperling's comment earlier this month that the economy has three people looking for every job opening." The article continued:
He said the House Republican leaders' plan that's taking shape would grant work permits almost immediately to those here illegally, giving them a chance to compete with unemployed Americans for any job. He said it would lead to a surge in the future flow of unskilled workers and would provide amnesty to a larger number of immigrants in the country illegally, giving them a chance to apply for citizenship through green cards.
Politico also quoted Sessions' criticism that the GOP proposal "provides the initial grant of amnesty before enforcement; it would surge the already unprecedented level of legal lesser-skilled immigration to the U.S. that is reducing wages and increasing unemployment; and it would offer eventual citizenship to a large number of illegal immigrants and visa overstays."
In fact, Sessions' arguments are actually repackaged talking points from anti-immigrant groups and, as the libertarian Cato Institute noted, "are based on misinterpretations of government reports, cherry-picked findings by organizations that engage in statistical chicanery, or just flat-out incorrect." Cato, which released a point-by-point rebuttal of many of Sessions' claims, added that his assertions "do not advance a logical argument against immigration."
From the January 17 edition of Fox News' The Kelly File:
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From the January 4 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends Saturday:
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From the December 14 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends Saturday:
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Fox News has stoked outrage over the plan changes in the individual health insurance market, charging Obama with "government malpractice" and calling him a liar for supposedly not informing people that plans would change. But Fox's hyperbolic attacks ignore the fact that these changes are not only common in the individual market, but also that the administration announced them years ago.
Fox News attacked President Obama's decision to sign an executive order that will make it easier for states and communities to prepare for impacts of climate change by denying the existence of global warming.
On November 1, Obama signed an executive order on climate preparedness. The New York Times reported that the order will "make it easier for states and communities to build resilience against storms, droughts and other weather extremes" and establish "a high-level task force of state and local leaders to offer advice to the federal government" on how to help local communities deal with climate change.
Reporting on the executive order during the November 2 edition of Fox & Friends Saturday, co-host Tucker Carlson denied the existence of global warming. He said that "temperatures have not risen in the past several years, they have gone down," and claimed there is "an emerging scientific consensus that we may be in for a period of global cooling caused not by greenhouse gases but by fluctuations in solar energy -- sun spots."
Carlson concluded that those calling for action in response to climate change "what they don't know definitively is the truth. And no one wants to admit -- maybe there's some things they don't fully understand. Why not just admit that?"
Contrary to Carlson's claim that an "emerging scientific consensus" predicts an upcoming period of global cooling, 97 percent of climate scientists and most leading U.S. scientific societies agree that a climate-warming trend has existed over the last century and that the trend is "very likely due to human activities." In September, the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which convenes hundreds of top climate experts from around the world to assess the scientific understanding of climate change, released a report concluding that "warming of the climate system is unequivocal" and will continue under all greenhouse gas emissions scenarios.
While climate scientists overwhelmingly believe the Earth is warming, Fox News has relentlessly championed climate change denial. This coverage has a real impact on the network's conservative viewers - while two-thirds of Americans believe in global warming, only 25 percent of Tea Party Republicans agree.
From the September 18 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom:
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Right-wing media have rushed to heap praise on Russian President Vladimir Putin for a proposal to allow Syria to avoid U.S. air strikes by surrendering all of its chemical weapons to the international community, despite the fact that Russia was responding to statements by Secretary of State John Kerry and that President Obama supports the solution.
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.