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Olivia Marshall

Author ››› Olivia Marshall
  • Fox's Newest Benghazi Conspiracy Immediately Debunked By Fox Guest

    Blog ››› ››› OLIVIA MARSHALL

    Fox News' Special Report continued the network's attempts to push the myth that a "stand down order" was issued to American security personnel on the ground during the 2012 Benghazi attacks, a claim immediately debunked by a panelist on the show.

    On the September 4 edition of Special Report, host Bret Baier aired video of his interview with three CIA security personnel who responded to the September 2012 attacks on the U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi. The interview will be featured during Fox News' special "13 Hours at Benghazi," which will air on September 5 and is based on a forthcoming book of the same name that the personnel played a role in writing. Introducing the interview, Baier asked the former security personnel about what he claimed to be "one of the most controversial questions arising from Benghazi: Was helped delayed?" Baier described the interview as a "dramatic new turn in what the Obama administration and its allies would like to dismiss as an old story."

    The three CIA security personnel explained to Baier that the CIA's station chief in Benghazi told them to wait before responding to the attacks. One of the men told Baier "I assumed they were trying to coordinate us to link up with 17 February, which is the local militia."

    But contrary to Baier's presentation of the story as new and "dramatic," New York Times reported in a September 4 article that the security personnel accounts made in the book "fits with the publicly known facts and chronology," explaining that U.S. officials have previously acknowledged that "the Central Intelligence Agency security team paused to try to enlist support from Libyan militia allies."

    In fact, during a panel discussing Baier's interview later on the program, conservative Washington Post columnist Charles Lane explained that the delay was probably to ensure the safety of the remaining CIA security personnel and was, in fact, not controversial at all:

    LANE: The person I want to hear from is Bob, the CIA guy who told them to wait. Because when we hear from Bob we'll hear why he told them to wait. What we heard from your interview was they assumed he was waiting for more support from the local militia. Which, by the way, might not be a bad reason to wait. In other words, you want to go - you don't want to rush in with just three guys into what was obviously a very, very dangerous situation. You'd want to wait to see if you could round up some more support. In other words, there's a difference between waiting and waiting for no good reason and, even worse, waiting because you were told 'we don't care what happens to the Ambassador.' I want to hear from Bob, I want to hear the CIA make him available and tell us exactly what was going on. What I'm not hearing in this is that anybody in Washington said, 'we don't care what happens to the Ambassador, write it off, stay away.'

    Even panelist Steve Hayes pointed out that the House Intelligence Committee's Benghazi report "says that there was no stand down order." And Baier himself conceded that the Senate Intelligence Committee January 2014 review of the attacks "said that in fact it was working to get this February 17 militia to respond first."

    The evidence that CIA operatives were not delayed by "orders from above" is overwhelming and has existed for quite some time -- but if Fox's upcoming Benghazi documentary is any indication, the network will continue its attempts to make a scandal out of the "stand down order" myth. 

  • Fox's Erick Erickson Understands Why "So Many" Believe Obama "Is A Closet Muslim Jihadist Sympathizer"

    Blog ››› ››› OLIVIA MARSHALL

    Fox News contributor Erick Erickson responded to President Obama's press conference addressing the Islamic State by asserting that he understands why "so many" believe Obama "is a closet Muslim jihadist sympathizer."

    On August 28, Obama held a press conference to deliver remarks on the Islamic State and recent developments in Ukraine. During his statement, Obama explained that U.S. airstrikes have allowed Kurdish forces to push back the extremists, but added that more needed to be done with allies to root out the "cancer" that is the Islamic State:

    As I've said, rooting out a cancer like ISIL will not be quick or easy, but I'm confident that we can and we will, working closely with our allies and our partners. For our part, I've directed Secretary Hagel and our Joint Chiefs of Staff to prepare a range of options. I'll be meeting with my National Security Council again this evening as we continue to develop that strategy. And I've been consulting with members of Congress, and I'll continue to do so in the days ahead.

    Despite Obama's strong condemnation of the Islamic State, Erickson said on his radio show that "I don't believe Barack Obama is a closet Muslim jihadi sympathizer. But I now - today, after this press conference -- totally understand why so many of you think he is." Erickson repeated the incendiary comment on Twitter: 

    Erickson's inflammatory remark is the latest in a long line of extreme rhetoric from the Fox contributor. In 2012, Erickson called Obama a "composite Kenyan" on his blog RedState. He also has a history of sexist and homophobic comments: Erickson labeled Texas state lawmaker and gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis "Abortion Barbie" and claimed that gay people need to "overcome" the "struggle" of homosexuality.

  • How The Newest House Benghazi Report Should Change Media's Approach To Gowdy's Select Committee

    Blog ››› ››› OLIVIA MARSHALL

    As the House Intelligence Committee's Benghazi report further dismantles the right-wing's Benghazi hoax, will media keep legitimizing House Republicans' repetitious select committee on the attacks? 

    Less than two months before Rep. Trey Gowdy's (R-SC) House Select Committee is set to begin its Benghazi hearings, the Republican-led House Intelligence Committee voted unanimously on July 31 to declassify its report on the deadly 2012 attacks on American facilities. The committee found no evidence of wrongdoing by the Obama administration, confirming "that no one was deliberately misled, no military assets were withheld and no stand-down order (to U.S. forces) was given," as committee member Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA) explained. Ranking member Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD) stressed that the "bipartisan, factual," and "definitive" report found no evidence of a scandal involving the intelligence community's talking points on the attacks:

    This report shows that there was no intelligence failure surrounding the Benghazi attacks that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other brave Americans. Our investigation found the Intelligence Community warned about an increased threat environment, but did not have specific tactical warning of an attack before it happened, Americans which is consistent with testimony that the attacks appeared to be opportunistic.  It also found that a mixed group of individuals including those associated with Al-Qaeda, Qadafi loyalists and other Libyan militias participated in the attack.  Additionally, the report shows there was no "stand down order" given to American personnel attempting to offer assistance that evening, and no American was left behind. 

    The report also shows that the process used to develop the talking points was flawed, but that the talking points reflected the conflicting intelligence assessments in the days immediately following the crisis. Finally, the report demonstrates that there was no illegal activity or illegal arms sales occurring at U.S. facilities in Benghazi. And there was absolutely no evidence, in documents or testimony, that the Intelligence Community's assessments were politically motivated in any way.

    The House Intelligence Committee report joins previous Benghazi investigations by the State Department's independent Accountability Review Board (ARB), the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and the House Armed Services Committee which have repeatedly debunked right-wing Benghazi myths that have persisted since the attacks, including the falsehood that a "stand down" order was given to troops stationed in Tripoli and the myth that the administration lied about the attacks having been caused by an anti-Islam YouTube video.

    The findings present a new challenge for media outlets in the runup to Gowdy's Benghazi select committee, explicitly formed to investigate "unanswered questions" that previous Benghazi investigations have long-since asked and answered. When House Republicans announced plans to form the committee in May, many in the media presented Gowdy's premise of "unanswered questions" as legitimate.

    Fox News, which relentlessly campaigned for a select committee, has dutifully continued to promote it, regardless of the investigation's $3.3 million price tag.

    CNN's chief political analyst Gloria Borger told CNN Newsroom host Carol Costello in a May 9 discussion on Gowdy's select committee that "there are a lot of unanswered questions" on Benghazi, and on the May 21 edition of the program, Wolf Blitzer conceded to Republican myths on the attacks (emphasis added, via Nexis):

    BLITZER: I think the major question that the Republicans want answered is, people at the White House, what was their direct involvement from the president, the vice president, the national security adviser and others on down. They've gotten a lot of information from what was going on at the State Department. They've gotten a lot of documents and information, what was going on at the U.S. military, the Pentagon, the Africa command and other U.S. military operations in the intelligence community, they've gotten significant information. But the Republicans believe there's still a lot of information out there that the administration has not made available, specifically information as to what the White House was doing, what the president of the United States specifically was doing. That's what they say they want, and that's presumably what they're hoping to get in the course of the select committee hearings.

    Blitzer further legitimized the select committee on May 22, pressing Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) on why Ambassador Chris Stevens was in Benghazi the day of the attack and suggesting the committee could find an answer to this already-answered question.

    Now, the House Intelligence Committee's finding that there was no intentional wrongdoing on the part of the administration in the Benghazi attacks adds to a pile of overwhelming evidence against the right-wing's Benghazi hoax. Will it finally be enough to convince the media to stop taking Gowdy and his misguided Benghazi witch-hunt seriously?

  • Bill O'Reilly's Attacks On Black Culture

    Blog ››› ››› ELLIE SANDMEYER, OLIVIA MARSHALL & COLEMAN LOWNDES

    Fox News host Bill O'Reilly is under pressure to apologize for his inflammatory comments on "ghetto neighborhoods" and black culture. These recent comments follow a long history of O'Reilly, the self-styled culture warrior, using his platform at Fox to lecture the black community and hearken back to a time when society functioned more smoothly because white culture was unified. O'Reilly portrays himself as the moral and intellectual authority on how to solve the problems he says plague black communities and black culture, decrying "race hustlers" and prescribing harmful "solutions" to issues like the mass incarceration of black men.

    Here's a look at how O'Reilly talks about the black community's "culture":

  • Right-Wing Media Continue Campaign To Tie Legal Abortion To Convicted Murderer Kermit Gosnell

    Blog ››› ››› OLIVIA MARSHALL

    Conservative media have revived false comparisons of legal abortion to convicted murderer Kermit Gosnell in the wake of a Senate hearing regarding a proposed bill to prohibit states from imposing unusually onerous regulations on abortion clinics, despite the fact that Gosnell's crimes have nothing to do with legal abortion procedures.

    On July 15, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the Women's Health Protection Act, sponsored by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT.) The bill would bar states from enacting laws restricting abortion that are more burdensome than restrictions for similar outpatient procedures.

    The hearings sent right-wing media into a frenzy, renewing comparisons between legal abortion and Kermit Gosnell, a former doctor sentenced to life in prison without parole for the three counts of first-degree murder. National Review Online invoked Gosnell in an editorial titled "Gosnell Nation" on July 16. NRO suggested the title of the bill should be renamed to the "Kermit Gosnell Enabling Act of 2014" and provided a detailed description of Gosnell's horrific crimes, claiming the bill would lead to more cases like Gosnell's 

    A July 15 Fox News report on the bill also cited Gosnell, attributing many new state abortion restrictions to a reaction to his crimes. 

    But Gosnell's crimes bear no resemblance to legal abortions performed at clinics these state regulations target. The grand jury in Gosnell's case found that "Gosnell's approach was simple: keep volume high, expenses low - and break the law. That was his competitive edge." And University of California reproductive health professor Tracy Weitz has explained that Gosnell's actions have "nothing to do with the way in which the standard of care and later abortion procedures are performed in the United States," and that his practices are "nowhere in the medical literature." 

    The Blumenthal bill is intended to prevent the harmful effects on women's health that the rapid expansion of state abortion regulations, known as Targeted Regulations of Abortion Provider (TRAP) laws, has had. TRAP laws target abortion clinics for restrictions not imposed on other clinics that provide procedures with similar risk, like colonoscopies. In fact, such onerous and constitutionally questionable regulations have already driven many abortion clinics in the states to close -- which, according to Whole Woman's Health CEO Amy Hagstrom Miller, puts "more women at risk for later term abortions or for illicit abortions outside the medical community."

    Since the news of Gosnell's horrific crimes emerged, right-wing media have continuously attempted to tie the case to legal abortions -- the vast majority of which are safe and occur in the first trimester of pregnancy.

  • Fox Hides Harmful Effects Of State Attacks On Women's Choice

    Blog ››› ››› OLIVIA MARSHALL

    Fox News ran a dishonest report on a proposed bill to prohibit states from imposing unusually burdensome regulations on abortion clinics, hiding the harmful effects that the barrage of onerous state restrictions on abortion have had on access to abortion.

    On the July 15 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier, correspondent Molly Henneberg reported that the Senate Judiciary Committee held hearings on the Women's Health Protection Act, sponsored by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT). The bill would prohibit states from enacting abortion restrictions that are more onerous than placed on similar outpatient procedures. Both Henneberg and host Bret Baier framed the legislation as an attempt to appeal to the Democratic base; the segment also amplified misinformation from its critics and invoked convicted murderer Kermit Gosnell.