Fox Business host Stuart Varney pushed the discredited claim that a recent set of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's emails that are being withheld from public release contain "the names of our intelligence people on the ground overseas involved in active intelligence work" in order to suggest that Clinton should be indicted by the FBI for mishandling classified information.
On January 29, the State Department announced that seven email chains from Clinton's private email server were withheld from public release because they had been retroactively determined to include Top Secret information.
Following the announcement, conservative media touted anonymously sourced claims that the email chains include "Holy Grail items of American espionage such as the true names of Central Intelligence Agency intelligence officers serving overseas under cover."
NBC News debunked this claim in a February 4 article, explaining that several of the emails in question forwarded to Clinton reportedly contained "references to undercover CIA officers ... [b]ut contrary to some published reports, three officials said there was no email on Clinton's server that directly revealed the identity of an undercover intelligence operative." NBC News also reported one "now-classified email chain originated with a member of the CIA director's staff, leading some officials to question how Clinton could be blamed." A former senior CIA official told NBC News that "any suggestion that this email contained confirmation about the person or his cover, or any inappropriate information, is flat wrong."
During the February 4 broadcast of Varney & Co., host Varney repeated the debunked claim that the withheld emails had "the names of our intelligence people on the ground overseas involved in active intelligence work":
STUART VARNEY (HOST): From what you've been told openly in Congress by [Rep.] Chris Stewart [R-UT] and others, is there any way that the FBI will not recommend indictment?
REP. JORDAN (R-OH): Stuart, good to be with you. Look, that's the FBI's call, that's the Justice Department's call. Obviously, what Congressman Stewart had to say, I think, is pretty revealing, but they get to make the final decision. What we do know is from the start when Hillary Clinton, I happened to serve on the Benghazi Select Committee, we know that Secretary Clinton took her emails and decided which ones were public and which ones were private. She got to make that determination, we have no idea what search terms, what date parameters, who oversaw all that process, who made the decision, then the FBI goes in and gets the server and now we find out the FBI and State Department people are saying a number of these contain classified information. But in the end the FBI will decide.
VARNEY: I know the FBI will decide, but I just don't know see how they cannot indict, information of that kind naming the names of our intelligence people on the ground overseas involved in active intelligence work on her private server in her barn in Chappaqua available to all who can hack into it. I mean are you with me on this, can you see anyway the FBI cannot indict her, will not indict her?
A Fox Business panel discussing the January 13 Powerball drawing, which could be worth up to $1.5 billion, briefly went off message after one of the network's business analysts advised viewers against buying a ticket by correctly noting "your chances [of winning] are nothing."
On the January 12 edition of Fox Business' Varney & Co., business reporter Gerri Willis interrupted guest host Charles Payne's monologue on the record-breaking Powerball jackpot by repeatedly saying "don't buy the lottery ticket." Willis explained that she advises her own mother against spending money on the lottery "every week" and reiterated that "your chances [of winning] are nothing" if you do purchase a Powerball entry. Payne repeatedly asked Willis to reconsider her position on playing Powerball, saying, "a buck, you can't put a buck on this thing? A buck? You can't put 2 bucks on this?":
Payne's passionate defense of buying Powerball tickets echoes an earlier segment from Fox News. On the January 9 edition of Fox & Friends Saturday, co-hosts Anna Kooiman and Clayton Morris were joined by supposed lottery "expert" Richard Lustig to discuss the still-growing Powerball prize pool. The segment claimed to offer viewers "proven strategies" to win the lottery, including advice like "buy as many tickets as you can afford" and "never miss a draw":
The January 9 segment was circulated widely on Twitter and derided by several media outlets. Business Insider called it "literally the worst piece of advice about the lottery ever given," explaining that "your likelihood of winning is still incredibly low, even if you buy a bunch of tickets." ThinkProgress Economic Policy Editor Bryce Covert took to Twitter to advise her followers against buying lottery tickets, including the Fox & Friends Saturday segment in a long piece of research explaining how state-sponsored lotteries are essentially "a regressive tax on the poor."
The odds of purchasing a ticket with the winning combination to Wednesday's Powerball drawing are approximately 1 in 292.2 million. The odds of being struck by lightning in a lifetime are 24,000 times greater than that.
Contrary to Fox's previous guidance, you cannot meaningfully increase your odds of winning by purchasing extra tickets or playing every week. Your odds of winning any single drawing never change -- they are always 1 in 292.2 million. And buying enough two-dollar tickets to give yourself winning odds is preposterously expensive -- purchasing $1 million worth of tickets would give you just a 0.17 percent chance of hitting the jackpot, whereas approximately $292 million worth of tickets would still put your winning odds at no better than a coin flip.
Fox Business host Stuart Varney opened his show this morning by downplaying the Bureau of Labor Statistics' (BLS) jobs report for December 2015, marking the third consecutive month that Fox personalities have attempted to cast stellar job creation figures in a negative light.
On the January 8 edition of Fox Business' Varney & Co., host Stuart Varney opened the show by downplaying the December 2015 employment summary from the BLS, which showed the economy added 292,000 jobs last month. After accounting for upward revisions to job creation totals in October and November, the December report was the strongest jobs report of 2015. Instead of acknowledging these facts, Varney referred to this report as "modest by historical standards" and lamented that it was a sign of the "new normal in the Obama years." Later in the segment, Varney and guest Paul Conway, a former Bush administration official, combed through the report for kernels of negative data. Far from being "modest by historical standards," in the 77-year history of the BLS monthly jobs report, only 171 of the 923 months (18.5 percent) have seen job creation equal to or greater than the December 2015 total.
Varney's disingenuous complaint fits a trend at Fox News, where on-air personalities continue to lament consistently improving economic data. On November 6, 2015, Fox & Friends co-hosts Elisabeth Hasselbeck and Steve Doocy stumbled through a segment on the outstanding October jobs report, with Hasselbeck confusingly claiming that "only 271,000 jobs" had been created that month. On December 4, 2015, in response to a strong November report that beat most economists' expectations, Varney still managed to conclude that the pace of job creation was "mediocre."
The December report showed that the economy added 2.7 million jobs in 2015 and the national unemployment rate remained stable in December at 5.0 percent. BLS revisions to October and November jobs figures combined to add 50,000 more jobs than previously reported, bringing the 3-month average for job creation to 284,000, its highest level since the end of last year.
In the face of Fox's contrarian reporting, actual economists were elated by the job market news. University of Michigan economist Justin Wolfers began a stream of tweets about the report by stating "It's beautiful. Just beautiful." A blog by economist Jared Bernstein called the December data "another welcome show of strength" for the ongoing economic recovery. In a statement to The New York Times, economist Mark Zandi described the December report as "remarkable" and an "achievement":
"The remarkable thing is how consistent employment growth has been over the past three or four years," said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics. "We're getting at least 200,000 jobs per month on a consistent basis. That's quite an achievement."
Watch the full opening remarks from Varney & Co. below:
STUART VARNEY (HOST): 292,000 new the jobs created, modest by historical standards, the new normal in the Obama years. But hourly earnings unchanged, that's important.
From Pope Francis' encyclical on climate change, to the establishment of the first-ever federal limits on carbon pollution from power plants, to a landmark international climate agreement, 2015 has been full of major landmarks in national and global efforts to address global warming. Yet you wouldn't know it if you inhabited the parallel universe of the conservative media, where media figures went to ridiculous and outrageous lengths to dismiss or deny climate science, attack the pope, scientists, and anyone else concerned with climate change, and defend polluting fossil fuel companies. Here are the 15 most ridiculous things conservative media said about climate change in 2015.
Right-wing media spent much of 2015 lashing out at celebrities. From seething over celebrities who spoke out against sexism and pay inequality in Hollywood and supported the Black Lives Matter movement, to objectifying female bodies, bashing the Pope, and telling an actress to "deport herself," Media Matters looks back at some of conservative media's most outrageous temper tantrums of 2015:
From the December 16 edition of Fox Business' Varney & Co.:
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Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump called for a moratorium on Muslims entering the United States on December 7. Trump's statement followed widespread calls from conservative media not to allow Muslim refugees from Syria to resettle in the United States.
Right-wing media figures criticized President Obama and Hillary Clinton for not saying "radical Islam" during remarks they made on December 6, claiming terrorism cannot be fought without using the term. However, others have noted the term alienates Muslims and aids terrorists.
From the December 7 edition of Fox Business' Varney & Co.:
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In the wake of the December 2 mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, right-wing media are advocating for fellow civilians to profile Muslims and Muslim-Americans and urging them to "pick up the phone and call a cop" "if you see anything that's out of the normal," dismissing concerns about Islamophobia as "political correctness."
Fox Business' Varney & Co. was virtually alone in criticizing the Bureau of Labor Statistics' (BLS) monthly jobs report for November 2015, which host Stuart Varney called "mediocre." Nearly every other media outlet, including Fox News Channel, reported that continued monthly job creation and stable unemployment levels stood as proof that the economy is strengthening.
On the December 4 edition of Varney & Co., Varney invited former Bush administration Labor Department official Paul Conway to discuss the BLS' monthly jobs report for November. Varney claimed that the creation of 211,000 jobs in November was "mediocre," and Conway added that the U.S. economy is "aggressively sustaining mediocrity." In addition to downplaying the strong monthly job creation figure, neither Varney nor Conway mentioned that the jobs figure beat expectations by 11,000, or that the BLS upwardly-revised positive job creation figures from September and October by an additional 35,000.
Other media outlets took a much different approach to the November report. CNN's New Day called the report "good news," pointing to "strong job growth" as evidence of an "improving economy." The New York Times called the numbers "robust" and included a chart illustrating how the unemployment rate has steadily improved over the last three years:
The harsh jobs report criticism on Varney & Co. is perplexing, because Varney and Conway's statements came less than an hour after conservative economist Steve Moore called the November report "a good number," adding "everything I just heard I like a lot," on Fox Business' Mornings with Maria. The misleading criticism also came just minutes after Fox co-host Martha MacCallum and Fox Business correspondent Liz Claman discussed how "significant" the monthly figures were as proof of the strength of the overall economy on Fox News' America's Newsroom.
Fox personalities have a long history of downplaying the significance of positive employment figures. On the November 6 edition of Fox & Friends, co-hosts Elisabeth Hasselbeck and Steve Doocy stumbled through a brief segment on BLS' October jobs report, which The Washington Post called "stellar," complaining that the economy created "only 271,000 jobs."
See the full segment from Varney & Co. below:
STUART VARNEY (HOST): I want to get to the jobs report. Not spectacular. I repeat, I think it's mediocre, 211,000 new jobs. Come on in Paul Conway, our Labor Department bulldog, if you don't mind me calling you that. You never call this a strong recovery. Are you sticking with that analysis after that number, 211,000 jobs?
PAUL CONWAY: I am. I mean context is important, so let's take a look at last year. The average growth last year per month for jobs was 260,000. So, 211,000, I think what we're doing is aggressively sustaining mediocrity. And I think it's important because I just don't think that those numbers are the ones that are required -- in the quality of jobs -- to pull people off the sidelines. This month, professional services are down. Manufacturing is down. We like the fact that construction is up. And health care, but you really need sustained growth across all sectors to bring more people in. That's something that Janet Yellen, I don't think, is on message with this week.
VARNEY: Comment please on what's called the U-6 number, which is often called the "real unemployment rate." It went up to 9.9 percent. The significance, please?
CONWAY: Sometimes you will see an uptick in unemployment numbers if more people are trying to join the workforce. But in this case, if you take a look back over the past many months, I still think that that number is a very disturbing number when you add it in with the labor force participation rate. Because basically what you're saying is, you've got millions of Americans in jobs where they want to work full-time and they can't, and millions of Americans who are working in part-time jobs who are just doing that to pay bills, and waiting for something to come up that aligns with talent and their education.
VARNEY: Alright, Paul Conway. Thank you very much indeed.
Global leaders convened in Paris for the United Nations climate summit, where they reached a historic international agreement to act on climate change. Conservative media continue to respond with a series of climate-related myths, but here are the facts.
From the December 2 edition of Fox Business News' Varney & Company:
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Right-wing media figures are pushing the false claim that if the victims of the terror attacks in Paris carried guns, then they could have stopped the attackers and prevented the onslaught. Experts, however, have explained that civilians with guns have not historically stopped mass attacks and that increasing gun availability actually increases violence.
From the November 18 edition of Fox Business' Varney & Co.:
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