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Todd Gregory

Author ››› Todd Gregory
  • After O'Reilly's "War On Christmas" Rant, Fox Wishes Viewers "Happy Holidays"

    Blog ››› ››› TODD GREGORY

    Bill O'Reilly delivered an eight-minute monologue about the threat that "secular forces" pose to America -- using the nonexistent "war on Christmas" as an example -- but Fox News punctuated the segment with an animation telling the audience "Happy Holidays."

    Fox News Happy Holidays

    Fox News has repeatedly attacked people and organizations who use the word "holiday" instead of "Christmas," claiming that they are engaging in a "war on Christmas."

    In November, Fox & Friends expressed outrage at the fact that Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee has used the term "holiday tree" rather than Christmas tree, only to air a segment minutes later about the show's "Holiday wish list."

    Because Fox News revisits the "war on Christmas" every holiday season, there are plenty of examples of its hypocrisy on the subject.

  • CNN Bungles Reporting On Michigan's Anti-Union Law

    Blog ››› ››› TODD GREGORY

    CNN's Ashleigh Banfield and Poppy Harlow

    CNN aired a segment on Michigan's passage of a right-to-work law that was littered with misinformation, including the right-wing myth that workers in states without such laws are forced to join unions. In reality, federal law already prohibits unions from requiring workers to be members.

    On Tuesday, Republican Gov. Rick Snyder signed the right-to-work legislation, which bans "requirements that nonunion employees pay unions for negotiating contracts and other services," the Associated Press reported. Unions strongly opposed the law, and heated protests have been taking place in and around the Capitol in Lansing.

    On Erin Burnett OutFront, guest host Ashleigh Banfield began her coverage of the issue by claiming that the new Michigan law made it "illegal to force any workers to join a union." Similarly, reporter Poppy Harlow said workers in Michigan now "won't have to be part of a union." However, compulsory union membership is already illegal nationwide, and unions must still represent nonmembers under collective bargaining agreements. Right-to-work laws actually allow workers to receive these union benefits without having to pay fees.

    The segment also featured footage of Harlow interviewing Gov. Snyder, who said, "I think we'll see thousands of jobs coming to Michigan." After the footage aired, Harlow stated that while union members typically earn higher wages than nonmembers, Michigan will be "more competitive for businesses to come in" if wages are lower because of the right-to-work law.

    Harlow's claim is contradicted by economic research that says right-to-work laws have little impact on employment or economic growth.

    Later in the segment, Banfield asked CNN contributor John Avlon to explain the difference between the labor protests in Michigan and those in Wisconsin last year. Avlon said the difference is that "Wisconsin was all about public-sector unions" and Republicans' push to eliminate collective bargaining for most government employees there. Avlon added, "There is a world of difference" in Michigan, "which is about right-to-work for private-sector unions."

    But Avlon is wrong: The right-to-work legislation in Michigan affects private-sector workers and public-sector workers. The AP reported that the Michigan Legislature approved two bills: "One measure dealt with private-sector workers, the other with government employees. Republican Gov. Rick Snyder signed them both within hours."

  • O'Reilly Exploits Story Of Formerly Homeless Veteran To Call For Spending Cuts

    Blog ››› ››› TODD GREGORY

    O'Reilly Hillman

    Bill O'Reilly seized on the story of a shoeless man who was helped by a New York City police officer to call for cuts to government programs that help the poor.

    O'Reilly opened his Thursday show by recounting an incident in November in which Officer Lawrence DePrimo bought a pair of boots for Jeffrey Hillman, a man in Times Square who had bare feet. A tourist took a picture of the DePrimo giving the boots to Hillman, and the image was widely circulated on the Internet.

    While Hillman was initially said to be homeless, it has since been reported that he has an apartment. O'Reilly presented this fact as if it were a devastating revelation -- "here's the sad truth," he said before informing his viewers that Hillman has a home. O'Reilly also claimed that Hillman "has enough resources to live his life in a dignified manner."

    What O'Reilly did not tell his viewers is that Hillman was homeless prior to last year. Nor did O'Reilly mention that Hillman uses veterans benefits to help keep his apartment.

    NBC New York reported, "Hillman used to be homeless, but entered shelter in 2009 before moving into an apartment secured by Veterans Affairs in 2011, city officials said. He pays his rent using a lifetime voucher for homeless veterans and his Social Security income."

    O'REILLY: Obviously, Officer DePrimo is a patriot, but here's the sad truth. Mr. Hillman's not homeless. He has an apartment, paid for by you and me. He's on government assistance. He has enough resources to live his life in a dignified manner. Yet Mr. Hillman doesn't do that. He prefers the street. And the boots Officer DePrimo have gave him have disappeared. Now, I'm not judging Hillman. Most cases like his involve substance abuse or mental illness. However, we must be honest. The government cannot provide a decent life for Hillman, no matter how much money it spends. We're already giving the guy tens of thousands of dollars a year, and it is doing nothing. There are millions of Americans like Jeffrey Hillman, and we all need to understand that some people simply will not -- will not -- save themselves.

    While O'Reilly claimed not to be "judging" Hillman because most "cases like his involve substance abuse or mental illness," he began the segment by saying that "[a]ll of us need to wise up, and fast," and went on to use his abridged version of Hillman's story to demand cuts to entitlement programs.

  • Will Fox Acknowledge Its Soros/Wal-Mart Coverage Is Totally Wrong?

    Blog ››› ››› TODD GREGORY

    Fox News repeatedly promoted a false story claiming philanthropist George Soros directed people to protest at Wal-Mart on Black Friday, but it has not corrected its coverage.

    Fox figures claimed that Soros was acting through MoveOn.org to orchestrate protests over labor conditions at Wal-Mart. While MoveOn did send an email urging recipients to support the Black Friday protests, it asked them to sign a petition, not attend the events, and MoveOn says that Soros made only one donation to the organization in 2004.

    Fox covered the false story Tuesday on America Live, Your World with Neil Cavuto, and The Five, and Fox Nation is still running the headline "Soros Behind Black Friday Strike."

    Fox Nation Soros

    Fox's coverage echoed a Daily Caller article published Tuesday. The Daily Caller has since updated its reporting, removing all references to Soros in its article and appending a correction saying that he "does not appear connected" to the protests.

    On The Five, co-host Greg Gutfeld used the false story to suggest that President Obama could appoint Soros the "destroy America czar" because Soros "hates this place." Co-host Eric Bolling claimed that Soros "wants chaos at Wal-Mart on Black Friday," while Andrea Tantaros said that Soros is "trying to drive a stake through the heart of the U.S. recovery":

    These attacks fit the right-wing media's pattern of launching unhinged smears on Soros, a financier who has donated to liberal causes.

    Fox News has not yet aired a correction to any of its reports.

  • Fox Tries To Obstruct Obama's Second-Term Cabinet Nominations

    Blog ››› ››› TODD GREGORY

    Fox News is mounting smear campaigns against Sen. John Kerry and Ambassador Susan Rice in an attempt to prevent them from being part of President Obama's second-term Cabinet. On Monday, The Washington Post reported that Obama may ask Kerry to be defense secretary, while Rice is being considered for secretary of state.

    John Kerry Susan Rice

    Fox is attacking Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, over her statements about the attack on the American compound in Benghazi, Libya, and reviving the utterly discredited lies about Kerry's service in Vietnam that were advanced by the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth in 2004.

    Fox hosts have suggested that members of the military would see Kerry's nomination as "some sort of thumb in the eye" and that Rice is "an embarrassment."

    It's remarkable that Fox would suggest that the Swift Boat lies could play any role in Kerry's nomination. After the notoriously false attacks on Kerry during his 2004 presidential campaign, the term "swift-boating" became shorthand for dishonest political smears.

    Likewise, Fox's attacks on Rice over Benghazi are premised on falsehoods about statements she made during Sunday talk show appearances on September 16. But as Mother Jones' Kevin Drum explained, Rice was accurately conveying the intelligence community's best assessment at the time of what had happened in Benghazi.

    Fox is ramping up these campaigns in the wake of an election that resulted in losses for Republicans, and many in the media agree that Fox's influence on the GOP has hurt the party.

    Much of the criticism of Fox's influence is that it pressures elected officials to embrace storylines that are at odds with reality. Yet Fox is undeterred, kicking off its coverage of Obama's potential second-term advisers with stories that are rooted in falsehoods.

  • Wall Street Journal Keeps Backsliding On Disclosure For Romney Advisers

    Blog ››› ››› TODD GREGORY

    WSJ logo

    The Wall Street Journal published an op-ed by Kevin Hassett attacking statements by President Obama without disclosing that Hassett is an adviser to the Mitt Romney campaign.

    The October 24 op-ed identified Hassett only as "director of economic policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute," despite abundant reporting elsewhere of Hassett's position as a Romney adviser.

    The Journal has frequently failed to disclose its op-ed writers' ties to the Romney campaign. Earlier this month, a Media Matters review of Journal op-eds found that it had failed to disclose these connections 70 percent of the time.

    Following scrutiny of the Journal's disclosure practices -- editorial page editors at top newspapers have called them "inexcusable" and "shameless" -- the paper began disclosing columnist Karl Rove's link to American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS, political groups that are spending hundreds of millions of dollars to help Republicans. The Journal also disclosed the Romney campaign connection of Hoover Institute fellow John Taylor, after having previously failed to do so.

    However, last week, the Journal did not disclose Romney foreign policy adviser Seth Cropsey's campaign role in an op-ed criticizing Obama.

    In Hassett's op-ed, he and co-writer Aparna Mathur claimed that Obama's campaign speeches have blasted "a caricature of his opponent's economic policies" and repeated the misleading right-wing argument that ownership of appliances somehow mitigates poverty in America.

    As Think Progress explained in a response to the op-ed, this argument ignores the fact that appliances have become much cheaper over the past few decades, while important necessities like child care and medical care have grown more expensive.

  • Fox Gave Indiana Senate Candidate's Rape Comment Two Minutes Of Coverage

    ››› ››› TODD GREGORY

    The day after Indiana Republican Senate candidate Richard Mourdock said that "even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen," Fox News mentioned the comment twice, devoting just over two minutes of coverage to it. Meanwhile, CNN gave the topic an hour and 20 minutes of coverage and MSNBC covered the topic for 2 hours and 7 minutes.

  • PolitiFact Ignores Romney Statements On Auto Rescue

    Blog ››› ››› TODD GREGORY

    PolitiFact ignored Mitt Romney's repeated statements about the auto industry to criticize President Obama for saying during the third presidential debate that Romney opposed government assistance for U.S. auto companies.

    During the debate, Obama said to Romney, "You were very clear that you would not provide government assistance to the U.S. auto companies even if they went through bankruptcy. You said that they could get it in the private marketplace. That wasn't true."

    PolitiFact declared Obama's statement "mostly false." In its analysis, PolitiFact spent a great deal of time trying to parse a phrase from Romney's widely discussed 2008 New York Times op-ed on the subject of the auto industry rescue. In the op-ed, Romney stated: "The federal government should provide guarantees for post-bankruptcy financing."

    But PolitiFact ignored other remarks from Romney on the subject. As The New Republic's Jonathan Cohn noted, Romney clearly stated in a November 2011 Republican primary debate that the auto industries should have been forced to go bankrupt without any government involvement.

    When asked by CNBC's John Harwood about his op-ed, Romney responded, in part:

    My view with regards to the bailout was that whether it was by President Bush or by President Obama, it was the wrong way to go. I said from the very beginning they should go through a managed bankruptcy process, a private bankruptcy process.

    We have capital markets and bankruptcy, it works in the U.S. The idea of billions of dollars being wasted initially then finally they adopted the managed bankruptcy, I was among others that said we ought to do that.

    My plan, we would have had a private sector bailout with the private sector restructuring and bankruptcy with the private sector guiding the direction as opposed to what we had with government playing its heavy hand. [emphasis added]

    Likewise, in a February Detroit News op-ed attacking the auto industry rescue, Romney portrayed government intervention as having been forced onto GM and Chrysler, rather than something they were in dire need of. Romney wrote positively of managed bankruptcies for the companies, but then said, "Before the companies were allowed to enter and exit bankruptcy, the U.S. government swept in with an $85 billion sweetheart deal disguised as a rescue plan. By the spring of 2009, instead of the free market doing what it does best, we got a major taste of crony capitalism, Obama-style."

    Romney also once told reporters that it "would have been best had the auto companies gone through the bankruptcy process without having taken $17 billion from government."

    In reality, government intervention is the only thing that kept the companies alive. Many experts, including the chief economist for the industry's think tank, the Center for Automotive Research, have said that a bankruptcy could have meant liquidation for the auto companies because a private restructuring was impossible. When the rescue was taking place during the 2008-2009 financial crisis, credit markets were frozen and private financing was unavailable.

  • Will Media Fact Checkers Rise To The Romney Debate Challenge?

    ››› ››› TODD GREGORY, MIKE BURNS & DAVID SHERE

    Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney rehashed at least 11 previously debunked claims during the second presidential debate that ranged from the economy to gun rights. This continued dishonesty, coming on the heels of a campaign official saying they would not be "dictated to by fact checkers," presents a challenge to the media.