Author Page | Media Matters for America

Leslie Rosenberg

Author ››› Leslie Rosenberg
  • Bill O'Reilly Now Claims His Robert Reich "Communist" Accusation Was "A Joke"

    Blog ››› ››› LESLIE ROSENBERG

    Bill O'Reilly is now laughing off his claim that former Labor Secretary Robert Reich is "a Communist" who "secretly adores Karl Marx." On his Fox News show tonight, O'Reilly said to Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer: "I called him a Communist with Lou Dobbs -- and we were both laughing. And on the Huffington Post, there it is: 'O'Reilly Calls Reich A Communist.' And he writes -- actually writes a column about it, Reich -- he's so indignant."

    However, during the April 20 segment in which O'Reilly called Reich a "communist," neither he nor Dobbs appears to be laughing.

    On April 23, Reich responded to O'Reilly in a Salon.com blog post in which he wrote, "For the record, I'm not a Communist and I don't secretly adore Karl Marx." Reich went on to write:

    Ordinarily I don't bother repeating anything Bill O'Reilly says. But this particular whopper is significant because it represents what O'Reilly and Fox News, among others, are doing to the national dialogue.

    They're burying it in doo-doo.

    Reich added: "Ad hominem attacks are always the last refuges of intellectual boors lacking any logic or argument."

  • Fox Attacks On Obama Ignore Bush Apology For Quran Desecration

    ››› ››› LESLIE ROSENBERG

    Fox News figures are lambasting President Obama as "weak" for apologizing to Afghans after U.S. military personnel burned copies of the Quran. This criticism is bizarre, as Obama's reaction to the incident is fully consistent with U.S. precedent: in 2008, President Bush similarly apologized to Iraq's prime minister following the desecration of a Quran by American military personnel.

  • Limbaugh Revives Bogus Attack That Obama Supports "Infanticide"

    Blog ››› ››› LESLIE ROSENBERG

    Right-wing media are turning to an old discredited smear to attack President Obama, reviving the bogus claim that while serving in the Illinois State Senate, Obama "voted for infanticide," as Rush Limbaugh put it. Limbaugh went on to claim on his radio show today that "Barack Obama voted to allow babies who survived an abortion to go ahead and be killed":

    Limbaugh has made this same claim before, but it's as false today as it was then: Obama doesn't support infanticide.

    In a "Fact Check," the National Journal explained:

    According to Politifact, an independent fact-checking organization that looked into similar claims made by former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum on the campaign trail, Obama voiced his opposition to the new legislation as a state senator because it would have given legal status to fetuses and would thus have been struck down by the courts, and because Illinois already had laws to ensure infants who survived abortions would be given medical attention.

    Limbaugh was reacting to comments Newt Gingrich made during the Republican primary debate in Arizona, in which Gingrich said, "You did not once during the 2008 campaign ask why Barack Obama voted in favor of legalizing infanticide."

  • Fox Economic Coverage Mimics GOP Strategy Memo

    Blog ››› ››› LESLIE ROSENBERG

    Steve Doocy is offering further evidence that Fox News acts as the communications arm of the Republican Party. This morning the Fox & Friends host read directly from a "pundit prep" document provided to him by the Republican National Committee: "They said the three best ways to define the Barack Obama economy: the national debt, (which is skyrocketing), the unemployment (which is north of 8 percent), and gas prices":


    Either Fox News has been diligently following this memos for months, or the network and the GOP have simply been on the same page.

    Throughout the past year, Fox has repeatedly ignored expert economists and hijacked debate about job creation in favor of an obsession with near term deficit reduction. In doing so, they helped manufacture a default crisis and cheered the resulting credit downgrade. Furthermore, they falsely claimed that President Obama has not laid out a plan for reducing the national debt over the long term.

    As for the network's discussion of unemployment, they haven't let facts get in the way of getting out the Republican Party's message. As jobs numbers have improved, Fox has rushed to falsely discredit government data as "phony" and "fabricated".

    In line with the RNC directive, they have gone into overdrive in hyping high gas prices and assigning the blame to the president.

    Of course, none of this is at all surprising for a network whose programming is at times almost identical to RNC campaign ads and has a history of passing off Republican research as its own, typos and all.

  • The Economic Conversation Fox News Doesn't Want To Have

    Blog ››› ››› LESLIE ROSENBERG

    After weeks of dismissing news that the economy is improving and downplaying concerns over income inequality, Fox News is now trying to pivot the conversation away from economic growth to focus on deficit reduction, even as economists continue to warn that doing so would be bad for the economy.

    Fox News contributor Tucker Carlson and anchor Martha MacCallum argued that the debt "needs to be an issue" in the presidential election, and urged Republican candidates to make debt reduction "the issue" in the campaign. When guest Christopher Hahn argued that debt reduction could wait until the economy is on firmer ground before making our primary focus deficit reduction, MacCallum scoffed: "Oh please!"


    Economists warn that debt reduction should wait until the economic recovery is on firmer ground. Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, explained that prioritizing the deficit now "makes no sense":

    There are no businesses that are going to hire additional workers because the government laid off school teachers or firefighters and we cut back spending on food stamps. Businesses hire more workers when they see more demand for their product. All of these actions that reduce the deficit, either on the spending or tax side, translate into less demand and therefore less employment. In short, those who want to cut the deficit now are lobbying for fewer jobs and higher unemployment.

    Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman has argued that a premature focus on deficits would be "counterproductive."

    This tactic of shifting the debate away from jobs and economic growth to fixate on debt is nothing new at Fox. In the spring of 2010, while economists were arguing that more needed to be done to reduce unemployment and help grow the economy, Fox News insisted that debt was "our number one issue." At the time, Krugman argued that "jobs now, deficits later was and is the right strategy."

    The effect of that hijacked debate was a credit downgrade that Fox News figures cheered.

    It's not just economists who say it's not time to shift attention away from economic growth. Voters overwhelmingly say that jobs and the economy should be the focus of this year's election, not the debt. Voters are also more likely to say that the economy is moving in the right direction, rather than the wrong direction; and they are more likely to say that the Republican Party is moving in the wrong direction.

    All of which could explain why Fox is trying to move the debate in a different direction.

  • 300 Reasons Why Contraception Is Not Being Discussed As A Women's Health Issue

    Blog ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT, KEVIN ZIEBER & LESLIE ROSENBERG

    Cable news channels hosted only one expert from the public health community during a week of coverage over the controversy surrounding the Obama administration's decision to require most employers to provide health insurance coverage for contraception. By contrast, they hosted 300 guest appearances from the political or religious communities.

    On January 20, the Obama administration announced that nonprofit employers -- including those connected to religious organizations -- would be required to provide health insurance coverage for contraception. After the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops registered their opposition to the rule, conservative media figures accused the administration of engaging in a "war on the Catholic church."

    On February 10, President Obama announced an accommodation that would allow insurance companies to directly offer contraception coverage to employees whose employers have religious objections to such coverage.

    During a five-day period when the controversy reached a boiling point, cable news channels hosted a total of 301 guest appearances, but only one of those guests was a public health expert. The rest were political figures or religious leaders.

  • Bill O'Reilly "Doesn't Really Do Much" Fact Checking Before Dismissing Cancer Services Provided By Planned Parenthood

    Blog ››› ››› LESLIE ROSENBERG

    Raising questions about whether he will continue to donate money to the Susan G. Komen Foundation, Bill O'Reilly once again downplayed the role that Planned Parenthood for America plays in providing cancer screenings for millions of American women..

    Contrary to O'Reilly's claim that Planned Parenthood "doesn't really do much" in the area of cancer prevention, Planned Parenthood doctors and nurses provide nearly 750,000 breast cancer screenings annually. According to their 2009-2010 Annual Report, "cancer screening and prevention" combined with "other women's health services" account for almost 25% of their total services:

    ppfa

    O'Reilly also pushed the discredited claim that grants given to Planned Parenthood by Komen are used to fund abortions. In an open letter to Komen CEO Nancy Brinker, The Washington Post's Sally Quinn noted that "not one penny" of the money the Komen Foundation has granted to Planned Parenthood "went toward abortion":

    It is clear, despite what you told Mitchell, that you were under enormous political pressure -- and had been for some years -- from conservative donors to cut your ties to Planned Parenthood. This was because some of its money (about 3%) goes to fund abortions. Nevermind that of the $680,000 or so given to Planned Parenthood last year by your organization, not one penny went toward abortion. It was targeted to breast cancer screening for low-income and uninsured women. In the past five years Planned Parenthood has, with your funds, been able to provide 170,000 breast exams and thousands of referrals.

  • On The Factor, Sandy Rios Attempts To Justify Anti-LGBT Campaign Against Ellen Degeneres

    Blog ››› ››› LESLIE ROSENBERG

    Bill O'Reilly hosted Fox News contributor Sandy Rios to defend anti-LGBT group One Million Moms and their campaign to get Ellen DeGeneres fired as a spokeswoman for J.C. Penney, with Rios spewing that the campaign is responding to the "alarming ways" that "we are seeing homosexuality so embedded in our culture."

    The New York Times reported:

    J.C. Penney Co Inc said on Friday it fully backs its partnership with chat show host Ellen DeGeneres after a conservative group urged the retailer to reconsider hiring DeGeneres as a spokeswoman because she is a lesbian.

    A spokeswoman for the retailer declined further comment on the issue but did say in an e-mail to Reuters, "jcpenney stands behind its partnership with Ellen DeGeneres" and added that its announcement of the agreement last week sums up the company's view of the popular TV personality.

    The Times further quoted the Million Moms' statement: "Funny that JC Penney thinks hiring an open homosexual spokesperson will help their business when most of their customers are traditional families."

    For his part, O'Reilly accused One Million Moms of conducting a "witch hunt" against DeGeneres. Rios dismissed that accusation, insisting that the group has "a legitimate complaint."

    Rios has previously ranted that "[h]omosexuality has now been mainstreamed and de-stigmatized," compared coverage of birth control to "red China," and likened teachers' unions to Hamas.

    Defending the Million Moms' campaign targeting DeGeneres, Rios argued that the campaign was "not about Ellen DeGeneres," adding, "but it's about mainstreaming something that is not acceptable to Christian and traditional family people all over the country." She then criticized DeGeneres for having "chosen to act out her lesbian lifestyle," and opined that people who believe that children "should not be exposed and propagandized on homosexuality have a moral problem with that."

  • No, Sarah Palin, Obama Did Not Call Americans "Lazy"

    Blog ››› ››› LESLIE ROSENBERG

    In attempting to make a point about voter turnout during the Republican primary process, Sarah Palin repeated the right-wing talking point that President Obama called Americans "lazy." Palin claimed that ads targeting Mitt Romney would help Obama's re-election "only if Americans can concede Obama's point that he recently made, and that is that America has gotten lazy." She added: "It is imperative that voters do not become lazy in this primary process."

    In fact, Obama did not accuse Americans of being lazy, and those who continue to insist, like Palin, that he did, take Obama's comments out of context.

    As FactCheck.org wrote:

    Republican presidential candidates Rick Perry and Mitt Romney both claim President Barack Obama said that "Americans are lazy." He didn't. To the contrary, Obama has consistently and repeatedly praised American workers as the "most productive in the world," a bit of boosterism he has repeated dozens of times.

    His recent words -- "we've been a little bit lazy, I think, over the last couple of decades" -- actually referred to collective efforts to promote foreign investment in the U.S., and not to American workers or voters as individuals. Perry and Romney simply rip those words out of their context in order to mislead.