Remington Shepard

Author ››› Remington Shepard
  • Fox v. Fox On GOP Attempts To Defund Obamacare Through Government Shutdown

    Blog ››› ››› REMINGTON SHEPARD

    While some Fox News hosts and contributors such as Sean Hannity and Sarah Palin have supported a right-wing Republican plan to defund Obamacare by threatening a government shutdown, other Fox News contributors like Karl Rove and Charles Krauthammer have criticized the idea as unworkable and "nuts."

    Republican Senator Mike Lee (UT) threatened to shut down the government in order to stop funding health care reform -- signed into law in 2010 and found to be constitutional in 2012. He proposed that Republicans refuse to vote for any continuing resolution -- a measure that continues funding the operations of the federal government until a budget and annual appropriations can be passed -- that includes funding for the continued implementation of health care reform.

    Other Republicans are critical of this approach, with Senator Richard Burr (NC) calling it "the dumbest idea I've ever heard of." Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman noted in a July 25 New York Times column that even Republican leaders now recognize that confrontations like this threat to shut down the government will "inflict substantial harm on the economy."

    Despite this, some Fox News hosts and contributors have rallied in support of the right-wing Republican brinksmanship plan. On the July 23 edition of his radio show, Fox host Sean Hannity hosted Lee and expressed support for the effort. Two days later on his radio show, Hannity called the issue a "litmus test" for the conservatism of Republicans and threatened to primary any Republican who did not support the effort.

    In a July 25 RedState post, Fox News contributor Erick Erickson similarly wrote that Republicans who did not support the defunding effort should be challenged in primary elections:

    Why would Republicans keep funding a law that hurts so many people and is so unpopular? Why would they do that?

    Republicans in Congress have a choice this fall with the latest continuing resolution. They can choose to not include funding for the implementation of Obamacare. Negotiate everything, but make that their line in the sand. If the Democrats choose to shut down the government over an unpopular law that hurts people, it is their choice. Republicans should not fund Obamacare.

    Any Republican who chooses to fund Obamacare should be primaried. The advertisements write themselves. Republicans, by voting to fund Obamacare, are putting people out of work, driving up healthcare costs, and hurting families. Republicans are not listening to voters who hate the law if they fund Obamacare.                                

    Fox News contributor Sarah Palin also jumped on the government shutdown bandwagon, arguing on the July 30 edition of Hannity that using a government shutdown as leverage to defund Obamacare was "common sense."

    Other Fox News contributors have found the idea of government shutdown over health care reform to be "ludicrous" and "nuts." On the July 30 edition of America's Newsroom, Fox News contributor Jonah Goldberg said that the idea "works fantastically well for fundraising when you want to go and run in 2016 for president" but is "ludicrous" as a winning legislative strategy.

  • Karl Rove Absolves GOP Of Blame For Debt Ceiling Hostage Taking

    Blog ››› ››› REMINGTON SHEPARD

    Karl Rove ignored the Republican obstructionism that led to the 2011 debt ceiling crisis, falsely claiming President Obama was entirely to blame for automatic government spending cuts and misleadingly accusing Obama of hypocrisy for criticizing the devastating effects of the law.

    In his July 29 Wall Street Journal column, Rove accused Obama of hypocrisy while ignoring Republican responsibility for the devastating automatic spending cuts enacted March 1 known as sequestration, claiming Obama was fully to blame for the cuts because he signed the 2011 Budget Control Act. That law raised the U.S. borrowing limit while providing the framework that ultimately resulted in sequestration:

    Mr. Obama proposed the sequester, signed the July 2011 budget agreement with its hard caps on discretionary spending, and threatened to veto any attempt to repeal or mitigate it. Nevertheless, last week he attacked the sequester as "a meat clever" that "cost jobs" and later told the New York Times Sunday that he's worried about "the drop-off in government spending."

    But Obama only signed the Budget Control Act after Republicans took the U.S. economy hostage by threatening not to raise the U.S. debt ceiling -- a measure passed to allow Congress to pay for past spending. According to a C-SPAN timeline of the debt ceiling crisis, on May 11, 2011 House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) pledged to "not support debt limit increase without equal amounts of spending cuts." Previously, measures to raise the debt ceiling were routinely passed.

    In the months following Boehner's pledge, Republicans dismissed the concerns of economists of every partisan disposition that failing to raise the debt ceiling would be catastrophic for the U.S. and world economies. A June 2011 letter to congressional leaders signed by 235 prominent economists warned:

    Failure to increase the debt limit sufficiently to accommodate existing U.S. laws and obligations also could undermine trust in the full faith and credit of the United States government, with potentially grave long-term consequences. This loss of trust could translate into higher interest rates not only for the federal government, but also for U.S. businesses and consumers, causing all to pay higher prices for credit. Economic growth and jobs would suffer as a result.

    Obama ultimately signed a bill that would allow for the averting of this GOP manufactured crisis in August 2011. That bill contained the mechanism that resulted in "the sequester."

    These automatic spending cuts were designed such that the consequences of letting them occur would be so severe that it would force Congress to adopt a balanced approach to spending reduction targets laid out in the Budget Control Act. Indeed, Obama and congressional Democrats made a number of proposals to avoid sequestration, but Congress failed to find an mutually-acceptable approach, with Republicans ultimately insisting that any deal only contain cuts and no revenue. Because they failed to reach a deal, sequestration went into effect.

    But ignoring history and shifting blame away from the GOP and attacking Obama is par for the course for Rove. Indeed, in an August 2012 Wall Street Journal column, Rove ignored Republican obstructionism to blame Obama for failing to pass immigration reform or a deficit reduction deal, and for the debt ceiling crisis.

  • Right-Wing Media Respond To Obama's Corporate Tax Reform Proposal With Zombie Lie About Small Business Taxes

    ››› ››› REMINGTON SHEPARD

    Right-wing media reacted to President Obama's proposal to lower the corporate tax rate by pushing the repeatedly debunked claim that a majority of small businesses pay the top individual income tax rate. In fact, only a small fraction of small businesses pay this rate, and Obama's plan includes other incentives to help them.

  • Fox Claims That Feeding Seniors In Need Is An Effort To Buy Their Vote

    Blog ››› ››› REMINGTON SHEPARD

    VarneyFox News continued its campaign to demonize programs that provide necessary food assistance to millions of Americans by attacking the AARP's effort to enroll eligible seniors in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps, baselessly claiming the program was an effort to buy their vote and change "what America really is" and dismissing the fact that many eligible seniors find it difficult to enroll in the food assistance program they need.

    A July 27 Tribune-Democrat article reported that the Pennsylvania chapter of the AARP "has launched an effort to use the organization's volunteers to encourage seniors to apply for food stamps." According to the AARP, nearly 350,000 Pennsylvania seniors "do not always have enough money to buy food."

    On Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy asked why the AARP would want to enroll eligible seniors in the program and "encourage a welfare state." Fox Business host Stuart Varney responded by dismissing the need to feed seniors -- even those in extreme poverty -- and claiming that the effort in Pennsylvania was about buying votes. He expanded:

    VARNEY: Now the AARP, huge supporters of President Obama politically and financially. Big supporters of Obamacare. And now they're out there signing people up for food stamps. This is part of the buy the vote campaign. They're really shifting America, changing what America really is. 

    Outside of the 350,000 Pennsylvania seniors who lack food security, millions of seniors nationwide are food insecure and do not know how to access programs to assuage their food security concerns. According to Feeding America, a domestic hunger relief charity, "In 2011, 4.8 million Americans over the age of 60 were food insecure. This constitutes 8.4% of all seniors." Additionally, only 35 percent of eligible seniors are enrolled in SNAP. The Food Research and Action Center noted that the low enrollment rate can be attributed to things like a lack of mobility and technology allowing for seniors to enroll in the program.   

    Fox has previously demonized government SNAP outreach efforts and the program itself. On the March 15 edition Fox & Friends, Stuart Varney attacked SNAP, calling it a "feel good" program that creates "an entitlement nation," and added that SNAP outreach was an effort to secure votes for Obama during the 2012 presidential election. Varney has not limited his attacks to food security for the elderly. On July 9, Varney attacked the government for feeding children through initiatives like the free school lunch program, suggesting that food assistance programs that keep millions out of poverty were a sign of economic failure.

  • How Fox News Turned Benghazi Into A "Phony Scandal"

    ››› ››› MIKE BURNS, REMINGTON SHEPARD, ELLIE SANDMEYER & SAMANTHA WYATT

    Fox News attacked President Obama's July 25 suggestion that "phony scandals" are a distraction in Washington, claiming that he was referencing attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya and calling the deaths of four Americans in Benghazi "phony." Yet Obama made no mention of Benghazi, and it's Fox who has pushed dozens of phony Benghazi conspiracy theories since the attacks took place in September 2012.

  • Fox Still Using Polls To Push Benghazi Falsehood

    Blog ››› ››› REMINGTON SHEPARD

    Fox News hyped a new poll commissioned by the network to push the false claim that President Obama failed to order troops to respond to attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya, in an attempt to bolster its falsehood-laden narrative about the attack.

    On July 26, Fox & Friends First aired a graphic showing the results of a Fox News poll, paraphrasing a question which said that Obama "didn't send troops to help Americans in Benghazi " and asked "should he have":

    The full question from the Fox News poll read:

    On the night of the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, President Obama did not order U.S. troops to go in and help Americans at the consulate there. Do you think the president should have sent troops, or not?

    Co-host Heather Nauert claimed the poll disproved that the events that occurred in Benghazi and the subsequent Fox-led scandal mongering was nothing more than pushing "phony scandals," as she alleged Obama asserted in a June 25 speech.

    However, the poll question itself and its subsequent hyping by Fox News substantiates Obama's claim about "phony scandals" that are distracting Washington. As then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta testified in a February 7 Senate hearing, Obama ordered him and General Dempsey, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to "[d]o whatever you need to do to be able to protect our people there" on the night of the Benghazi attacks. Following that exchange between Panetta and Obama, and before the attacks were over, Panetta ordered two anti-terrorism security teams stationed in Spain to deploy to Libya and another special operations team to deploy to the region. Unfortunately, the forces arrived after the attacks were over.

    In June, Fox similarly trumpeted the results of a similarly misleading Fox News poll question that asked respondents why "President Obama did not order US troops to help Americans in Benghazi." According to the graphic aired on Fox & Friends, respondents were asked if Obama did not order the response because he "didn't want to risk [the] election," or if he "believed nothing could be done." Respondents were also given the option of saying they were "unsure." In May, Fox hyped its poll that asked: "Do you think President Obama could have done more to help the Americans at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi on the night of the attack."

  • Fox News' Allen West Accuses GOP Of Aiding In Benghazi "Cover-Up"

    Blog ››› ››› REMINGTON SHEPARD

    Fox News contributor and former Congressman Allen West (R-FL) accused fellow Republicans of engaging in a "cover-up" of the attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya, because they did not support a vote to form a special committee to investigate the attacks.

    Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX) has circulated a discharge petition that demands a vote on a bill that would appoint a congressional committee to investigate the September 11, 2012, attacks in Benghazi. The petition requires 218 votes to force the bill -- H. Res. 36-- to the floor over Speaker John Boehner's (R-OH) objections. On July 23, West spoke at a fringe group rally in support of the petition.

    On the July 24 Fox & Friends, West expanded on his support, reasoning that a select committee was needed to investigate the Benghazi attacks to find out who ordered military personnel to "stand down" and not respond, ignoring the fact that such an order was never given.

    He then asserted that those who did not support and sign the discharge petition were complicit in covering up the facts related to the Benghazi attack, saying: "Without a doubt, there has to be seen as a cover-up and everyone that is complicit in this to include the media and those not willing to sign the discharge petition or H. Res. 36."

    In lobbing this accusation, West smeared his former Republican colleagues, including Boehner and the author of H. Res 36, Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA). According to The Hill, Boehner "and other GOP leaders say current panels are doing a fine job with oversight on Benghazi," while a spokeswoman for Wolfe said that he "appreciates any attention drawn to his bill, which drew two more co-sponsors this week, but would not sign on to the discharge petition forcing a floor vote over the objections of Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio)." Wolf had previously suggested that Boehner's not allowing for a vote on a select committee would be tantamount to his being involved in "cover-up" of the attack.

    The House Oversight Committee, House Foreign Affairs Committee, House Permanent Select Committee On Intelligence, House Armed Services Committee, Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs and Senate Intelligence Committee have all held hearings and conducted investigations into the attacks in Benghazi, and more hearings are scheduled for coming months.

    But it seems that at least six different investigations into the Benghazi attacks are not enough for Fox News contributor Allen West.

  • Fox Manufactures White House Link To IRS Controversy

    Blog ››› ››› REMINGTON SHEPARD

    Fox News falsely claimed that a Republican-led congressional hearing showed that an Obama appointee was personally involved in the IRS' inappropriate targeting of conservative groups requesting tax-exempt status. This desperate attempt to further the right-wing narrative that the White House directed the IRS to scrutinize conservative groups was undermined by testimony from a witness and Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Darrel Issa (R-CA).

    The July 18 hearing led by Issa featured current and former Treasury and IRS employees. One of the witnesses, recently retired IRS employee Carter Hull, testified that staffers from the IRS chief counsel's office were involved in further assessing applications of groups identified as conservative that were seeking tax exempt status.

    Fox & Friends co-hosts Gretchen Carlson and Steve Doocy claimed on July 19 that this testimony showed a link between the undue scrutinizing of conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status and the White House, because the IRS chief counsel is an Obama appointee. Carlson claimed that IRS Chief Counsel William Wilkins, the Obama appointee, directly reviewed Hull's work. Doocy expanded, falsely suggesting that Wilkins decided to target conservative applications, and that this may have been at the direction of someone at the White House. Co-host Brian Kilmeade added that any suggestion that Wilkins was not involved in should be viewed skeptically.

    However, there is no evidence that links Wilkins to the assessment of the scrutinized applications. USA Today reported:

    The IRS chief counsel, William Wilkins, is one of only two IRS officials appointed by the president. The evidence released by two congressional committees Wednesday does not prove that he had personal knowledge of the targeting of Tea Party groups but does significantly broaden the scope of IRS officials involved.

    USA Today also noted that the IRS chief counsel's office is composed of 1,600 employees.

    Indeed, Issa was very clear that Wilkins himself was not personally involved. In his opening statement at the hearing, he said:

    ISSA: I hope that both my side of the aisle and the ranking member side of the aisle will be very careful and cautious in what we say. When I say something goes to the office of the counsel of the IRS, that is not to be construed as the office of the president, or to the counsel himself. It is important that we understand that words matter, nuances matter, and that we not go one step beyond what we know.

    Hull's testimony also does not show that Wilkins was personally aware of the controversy. Hull testified that he met with staffers from the counsel's office, but made no mention of Wilkins.

    The Washington Post more broadly noted that there is no evidence from the investigations and hearings about the controversy that connects the scrutinizing to the White House:

    Key Republicans, including the oversight panel's chairman, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), said the audit findings suggested that the IRS had systematically delayed tax-exemption applications for President Obama's opponents during the 2010 and 2012 election cycles. Some GOP lawmakers suggested that high-ranking administration officials must have been involved in the alleged effort.

    There has been no evidence of White House involvement.

  • Fox Cites Bush DOJ Prosecutions To Accuse Obama DOJ Of Being Political

    Blog ››› ››› REMINGTON SHEPARD

    Fox News suggested that past hate crime prosecution decisions proved that the Obama Justice Department acted politically, citing prosecutorial efforts by the Bush administration.

    Fox & Friends co-host Gretchen Carlson proposed that the decision by the Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate whether or not the killing of teenager Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman was based on racial animus was part of a political decision making scheme unique to Obama's DOJ. To illustrate her point, Carlson claimed that the Obama administration decided to prosecute three hate crime cases while dismissing a case against the National Black Panther Party (NBPP):

    CARLSON: Alright, thanks so much Steve. Since the Obama administration took office, the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department has successfully prosecuted these three cases you see on your screen there, all of which involve racially motivated hate crimes where the victim was a minority. Yet, at the same time, the DOG [sic] dismissed the Black Panther case -- you remember that one from the 2008 election -- where these individuals were seen intimidating white voters at a Philadelphia polling location. So, as the DOJ considers hate crime charges against George Zimmerman now, many people are asking, are they playing politics when it comes to racism?

    The following graphic aired during Carlson's remarks:

    As the graphic makes clear by providing dates, Carlson pointed to three cases initially prosecuted by the Bush administration to claim that "since the Obama administration took office," the DOJ has prosecuted cases only when the victim was a minority. Yet these cases were all started and decided before "the Obama administration took office" on January 20, 2009.

    Moreover, Carlson's claim that the Obama administration chose not to pursue a civil suit against the NBPP for voter intimidation is misleading. Like the other cases, the Bush DOJ brought a civil suit against three NBPP members who showed up at polls during the 2008 election. The Obama DOJ later pursued action against the member brandishing a night stick, obtaining an injunction, and dropped the cases against the other two members.

    Experts across the political spectrum contend that the Obama DOJ took the correct action.

    The case involving the NBPP is the only example of the Obama administration's involvement in any of the cases cited by Carlson, and it was merely an effort started by the Bush administration to pursue a civil rights violation, one found to be committed by a black man.

    Media Matters intern Charlie Rafkin contributed to this post.