With Friends Like These: Fox & Friends' Epic Year Of Misinformation

The past year found Fox & Friends solidifying its position as part of the campaign arm of the Republican Party through a barrage of attacks on President Obama, Islam, immigrants, health care, climate change, and by relentlessly campaigning for the GOP leading up to the midterm elections. Media Matters offers a look back at some of Fox & Friends' most outrageous moments of 2010.

The Relentless Smear Campaign Against Obama

Doocy: “Could President Obama Be Running The Most Destructive Administration In Our History?” On the August 26 show, co-host Steve Doocy introduced David Limbaugh to promote his book by asking, “From health care to the billion dollar stimulus -- trillion dollar stimulus -- President Obama has been pushing through legislation despite public outcry against it. Still, he claims to be doing it for all of us, the people. ... But could President Obama be running the most destructive administration in our history?” [Fox & Friends, 8/26/10]

Varney: “You're Asking Me, Is [Obama] A Socialist, And The Answer Is: He Sure Looks Like One.” On the February 25 edition of Fox & Friends, responding to President Obama's claim that he is “an ardent believer in the free market,” co-host Brian Kilmeade asked Fox Business host Stuart Varney, “Does he have a right to be defensive, or does his track record say something different?” Varney responded:

VARNEY: Well, look, he has nationalized industries, from cars to housing to student loans, and maybe health care. He has demonized profitable industries, from oil to banks. He's expanded the role of government and vastly expanded the workforce of the government. He's redistributed wealth and income. Those are all the hallmarks of a very left-of-center administration which is making America look more and more like Europe. So the answer -- look, you're asking me, is he a socialist, and the answer is: He sure looks like one. [Fox News' Fox & Friends, 2/25/10]

Carlson: “Some Would Say” That Obama Is “Apologizing To These Muslim Terrorists ... Instead Of Taking Them Head On.” On the January 7 edition of the show, co-host Gretchen Carlson responded to a story that counterterrorism official Michael Leiter stayed on vacation after the attempted 2009 Christmas Day attack by saying “that would be the microcosm of what some people say is the macrocosm of this administration's viewpoints on the war on terror. That, some would argue, that if it's not taken seriously or if you have a different ideology about apologizing to these Muslim terrorists, some would say, instead of actually taking them on, head on, then this is the kind of action that you get from your top people.” [Fox & Friends, 1/7/10]

Kilmeade Asks, “If [Obama] Was Worried” About People Thinking He's Muslim, “Wouldn't He Have Kept His Name As Barry And Not Barack?” On the August 30 edition of the show, Kilmeade reacted to news that “24 percent of this country thinks the president is a Muslim” by asking, “If he was worried about that would he have changed -- kept his name as Barry and not Barack?” [Fox & Friends, 8/30/10]

Dobbs: Obama To Start Ruling “By Fiat” Because “This Has Been Too Complicated, This Democracy Thing.” On the February 16 edition of the show, guest Lou Dobbs responded to a story about Obama's ability to communicate his message by falsely claiming, “What I find interesting, Steve, is now they're announcing that they're going to do things by executive order, by fiat” because “this has been too complicated, this democracy thing.” [Fox & Friends, 2/16/10]

The Year-Long Campaign Against Islam

Kilmeade: “Not All Muslims Are Terrorists, But All Terrorists Are Muslims.” On the October 15 edition of the show, Kilmeade defended Fox News host Bill O'Reilly's comments on the October 14 edition of ABC's The View by claiming the show's hosts “were outraged that somebody was saying there's a reason -- there was a certain group of people that attacked us on 9-11. It wasn't just one person. It was one religion. Not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims.” Kilmeade later apologized, saying “I'm sorry about that, if I offended or hurt anybody's feelings. But that's it.” [Fox & Friends, 10/15/10, 10/18/10]

Peter Johnson Jr.: New York Muslims Should “Give Up Their Rights” In Order To Be “Good Neighbors.” Fox News legal analyst Peter Johnson Jr. stated on the August 20 edition of the show that the issue of the Park51 Islamic center is “about neighbors becoming good neighbors.” He added: “Any American can assert a right. Great Americans give up their rights to help those they share nothing else with but a love of this country.” On September 3, Johnson repeated that those building the Islamic center should “give up their First Amendment rights.” [Fox & Friends, 8/20/10, 9/3/10]

Fox & Friends Allows, Then Whitewashes, Franklin Graham's Incendiary Anti-Islam Rhetoric. Rev. Franklin Graham appeared on the April 22 edition of the show and expressed his desire to convert Muslims, adding that he wants Muslims “to know that they don't have to die in a car bomb; they don't have to die in some kind of holy war to be accepted by God” and that he's speaking “out for people that live under Islam, that are enslaved by Islam.” Following his appearance, Carlson reported that the Army had rescinded Graham's invitation to speak at the Pentagon's Day of Prayer, saying that “so many people believe that the Army acquiesced” to Graham's opponents, while Johnson defended Graham's comments, saying, “Vindictiveness has won over redemption, has won over prayer,” and asking whether “we have an America-lite now where we are embarrassed by our sons?” [Fox & Friends, 4/22/10, 4/23/10]

Kilmeade Reacts To Bloomberg's Park51 Support With Anti-Muslim Rant. On the August 25 edition of the show, Kilmeade played video of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's statement that “Islam did not attack the World Trade Center, Al Qaeda did. To implicate all of Islam for the actions of a few who twisted a great religion is unfair and un-American.” Kilmeade responded:

KILMEADE: That's one way of looking at it, you could say just for a few. Those few have us bogged down really in two wars, one of which, I guess, is concluding. And then we have those few people in Yemen and those few people in Somalia and those few people that blew up in Madrid, and those few people that -- those bus bombings in London. Besides those few, I don't really see the problem. [Fox & Friends, 8/25/10]

Fox & Friends Shows Map Of 9-11 Victims' “Body Parts Found 348 Feet” From Proposed Islamic Center. On the September 10 edition of the show, Kilmeade reacted to a report that Donald Trump had offered to buy the site of the proposed Park51 community center by saying, “Let me just give you a reality check, because the [New York] Post did one -- and got this map, and it's a, to me, it's a very sad map, but a telling map, of the recovered body parts and remains of those who lost their lives on 9-11, almost nine years to the day.” Fox & Friends then showed a map of Lower Manhattan with dots to represent recovered remains from the 9-11 attacks, with arrows pointing to them, emanating from the proposed Park51 building site. [Fox & Friends, 9/10/10]


A Year of Environment And Climate Change Distortions

Fox & Friends Suggests Oil Rig Was “Sabotage[d]” In Order To “Try And Pull Drilling.” On the May 3 broadcast, Fox News contributor Dana Perino said of the BP oil spill: “I'm not trying to introduce a conspiracy theory, but was this deliberate? You know, you have to wonder ... if there was sabotage involved.” Later, during the same broadcast, Fox Business host Eric Bolling said: “The question is ... why the delay in the response? You guys were pointing out, nine days before it was even addressed, 12 days before he made a formal comment. The question is: Did they let this thing leak? I mean, oh, BP said maybe a thousand barrels a day, it went to 5,000. Did they let it leak a little bit and say, boy, I don't know. The conspiracy theorists would say, 'Maybe they'd let it leak for a while, and then they addressed the issue.'” Bolling added: “It would be a humongous accusation, and probably the net result would be no different, but if they're going to try and pull drilling, that may be the way they do it.” [Fox & Friends, 5/3/10, 5/3/10]

Fox & Friends: The Discovery Channel “Gunman's Extreme Environmentalist Views May Have Been Sparked By An Al Gore Documentary? Where's The Media Outrage There?” On the September 2 edition of the show, Kilmeade teased an segment by saying: “Now we know the gunman's extreme environmentalist views may have been sparked by an Al Gore documentary? Where's the media outrage there? Would they be silent if the tables were turned with a different documentary with a different point of view?” Later in the show, Carlson noted that “he apparently became some sort of an environmentalist junkie after he watched vice president -- former vice president's movie, Inconvenient Truth [sic], Al Gore's movie. He became a radical environmentalist.” [“Fox & Friends, 9/2/10]

Fox & Friends Celebrate Earth Day By Spreading “Climategate” Misinformation. On the April 22 edition of the show, Carlson began a segment on Earth Day by saying, “Happy Earth Day, America. Today, we're taking a look back at how the mainstream media covered and didn't cover 'Climategate.' That was the release of all those emails exposing that scientists held back data that discredits theories on global warming.” Fox & Friends also hosted Media Research Center's Brent Bozell to falsely claim “there were campaigns to manipulate the data in their favor. There was a campaign to destroy evidence that would go against them -- to manipulate that evidence. And there's a campaign to bully journalists to not listen to critics of this.” Carlson claimed the allegations are “real” because “big chief people resigned as a result.” [Fox & Friends, 4/22/10]

Kilmeade: Americans Wouldn't Be Upset About Lawmakers' Copenhagen Trip, If “We Believed” In “Global Warming.” On the January 26 edition of the show, Carlson reacted to a story that lawmakers were attending the Copenhagen Climate Conference by claiming, “Americans wouldn't be so upset about it if they actually got something huge done,” to which Kilmeade responded, “Or if we believed there was global warming.” [Fox & Friends, 1/26/10]

Doocy: “How Can There Be Global Warming If It's Snowing And It's Bitterly Cold? On the February 9 broadcast, Carlson said she wanted to talk about the “dichotomy” created by “big snowstorms” occurring while “the Obama administration [is] talking about creating a new federal office to study global warming.” Doocy added: “It's interesting, though, given the fact that the weather is so rotten right now, and people are going, 'How can there be global warming if it's snowing and it's bitterly cold?' ” [Fox & Friends, 2/9/10]

Fox & Friends' Relentless Campaigning for GOP Candidates

Doocy Attempts To Conceal Angle's Position On Social Security In “Softball” Interview. On the June 14 edition of the show, Fox & Friends hosted Nevada Senate candidate Sharron Angle. During the interview, Doocy asked Angle, “Perhaps it's misinformation or mischaracterization, but some have said that you are out to get rid of Social Security. That's not true, right?” Angle replied by calling the allegation “nonsense” despite the fact that her website advocated “transition[ing] out” Social Security. [Fox & Friends, 6/14/10]

Varney Roots For GOP To “Win Big,” Says That Could Lead To “Significant Economic Expansion.” On the October 29 broadcast, Carlson noted that Varney “believe[s] if Republicans take control of the House, that it could restore confidence in private enterprise.” Varney agreed:

VARNEY: That's my opinion, OK? I'm freely expressing an opinion here. If the Republicans win big on Tuesday, you know there will be no big new spending program, there will be no cap and trade, there will be no card check, you could probably roll back some of these onerous regulations that are now being imposed on business. But above all, you may infuse confidence into the private sector. Private enterprise may be released from the shackles of the Obama administration and released to put to work all the money that they've got. You could see significant economic expansion. [Fox & Friends, 10/29/10]

Fox & Friends Aggressively Promotes GOP “Pledge To America.” On the September 23 broadcast, Fox & Friends' coverage of the GOP's “Pledge to America” consisted almost entirely of supportive conservatives and Republicans. Fox & Friends provided a “point-counterpoint” which featured three Republicans who supported the pledge and featured an interview with Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) in which Carlson said, “I guess the Democrats can't say that the Republicans are the 'Party of No' anymore.” [Fox & Friends, 9/23/10]

Carlson Advises McMahon To “Remind Voters, Starting Today,” That Blumenthal “Lied About Vietnam.” On the August 11 edition of Fox & Friends, Carlson said to GOP Senate candidate Linda McMahon: “Don't you have to remind voters, starting today,” that Democratic candidate Richard Blumenthal “lied about Vietnam?” [Fox & Friends, 8/11/10]

After Parroting GOP Talking Points, Meek Tells Doocy He “Sounds Like” Rubio; Doocy Responds By Airing A Clip Of Rubio. During an interview with Democratic Senate candidate Kendrick Meek, Doocy parroted GOP talking points on the Bush tax cuts and small businesses. Meek responded by saying, “You sound like [GOP Senate candidate] Marco Rubio there for a minute.” Later in the segment, Doocy said to Meek, “You just mentioned a moment ago Rubio -- you said I sounded like him” before airing a clip of Rubio discussing job creation. [Fox & Friends, 10/7/10]

Fox & Friends' Attacks On Immigration

Kilmeade: “What We're Saying Is, 'Get Out. Stay Out.' ” During a discussion of Arizona's immigration law on the April 28 edition of Fox & Friends, Kilmeade responded to guest Richard Florida's statement that the law “looks bad for our image internationally” by stating: “Does it really look bad for us? I mean, in Saudi Arabia, you cross into that country, you get in jail. Over in Iran, you're detained indefinitely. Over in Cuba, you're tossed into jail. What we're saying is, 'Get out. Stay Out.' ” [Fox & Friends, 4/28/10]

Fox & Friends Runs With Absurd “Estimate” That “2,158 [Are] Killed By Illegals Every Year.” On May 6, Fox & Friends displayed an on-screen graphic promoting a Family Security Matters estimate that “2,158 killed by illegals every year.” But that statistic was derived from completely baseless assumptions about immigrants' crime rates. Actual studies have found that immigrants in general are less likely to be incarcerated and that there is no evidence that undocumented immigrants commit a disproportionate amount of crime. [Fox & Friends, 5/6/10]

Fox & Friends Calls Calderon's Criticism Of AZ Law “Insulting,” A “Gigantic Lie,” And An “Outrage To This Country.” On the May 21 edition of Fox & Friends, Doocy accused Mexican President Felipe Calderón of telling “a gigantic lie” by saying that Arizona's new immigration law introduces racial profiling into law enforcement. However, law enforcement officers have also expressed this concern and legal experts have rejected the claim that modifications made to the law eliminate the risk of racial profiling. [Fox & Friends, 5/21/10]

Fox & Friends Dismisses The 14th Amendment As The “Anchor Baby Amendment.” On the August 4 edition of Fox & Friends, co-host Clayton Morris stated: “Republicans want Congress to work on some other form of Constitutional control, that being the 14th Amendment to United States Constitution -- basically the anchor baby amendment.” The term “anchor baby” was described by the Rocky Mountain News as “derogatory, even racist, because it implies that Hispanics are having children as a way to stay in the U.S.” [Fox & Friends, 8/4/10; Media Matters, 2/17/10]

Fox & Friends Hosts Anti-Immigrant Leader To Claim That If DREAM Act Passes, Americans Will “Lose The Country.” On November 30, Fox & Friends hosted William Gheen, president of the anti-immigrant Americans for Legal Immigration PAC, to attack the DREAM Act. During the segment, Gheen said, “The DREAM Act amnesty, or nightmare act amnesty, is a political teddy bear with a hand grenade in it.” Gheen later claimed that if the bill passes, “You can kiss the borders of the United States good-bye,” and that Americans will “lose the country.” [Fox & Friends, 11/30/10]

Health Care Attacks, Distortions, And Misinformation

Johnson Exploits Bill Clinton's Heart Surgery To Stoke Fears About Health Care Rationing. On the February 12 Fox & Friends, Kilmeade asked, “So if the Democrats' health care reform had gone through, would President Clinton have received the stents?” Fox News legal analyst Peter Johnson Jr. replied that “best practices” for medical procedures could be determined by government “comparative effectiveness” studies. Johnson further stated, “If the new standard is, save money, best practices, does President Clinton -- or you or I who needs it -- get the stent under that new regimen of health care effectiveness?” [Fox & Friends, 2/12/10]

Fox & Friends Asks: Could “Health Reform Create a Welfare State?” On the March 9 edition of Fox & Friends, on-screen text stated: “Medicaid Mayhem; Health Reform Create A Welfare State?” [Fox & Friends, 3/9/10]:


Johnson: Putting Sick Dogs Down “Sounds Like” Death Panels In Health Care Reform. On the March 12 Fox & Friends, Johnson stated during a discussion of pet health care: “You hear, oh, the dog got put down. At some point they say, well, we're going to put down the dog. We just -- we can't pay to keep the dog alive, or it's just not worth it to keep the dog going. Are we going to start applying that to humans? Are we going to start putting the dog down?” After a guest asked, “Are you talking about a death panel?” Johnson replied, “Well, it sounds like it, doesn't it? I mean, it sounds like, doesn't it?” [Fox & Friends, 3/12/10]

Kilmeade: “Almost Everyone Agrees” With Stupak That Senate Bill Allows For Federal Funding Of Abortion. On the March 16 edition of Fox & Friends, Kilmeade falsely stated that “almost everyone agrees” with Rep. Bart Stupak that the Senate health care bill allows for federal funding of abortions. [Fox & Friends, 3/16/10]

Fox & Friends: CBO “Lies” About The “Cost” Of Health Care Reform. On March 26, Doocy introduced a segment with Amity Shlaes by stating: “The president and Democratic leaders in Congress sold the $940 billion health care bill as legislation that will lower the deficit. But our next guest says it just doesn't add up, and it amounts to a bunch of lies.” Carlson began the interview with Shlaes by asking: “Say it isn't so. The CBO is full of liars?” Shlaes went on to say that CBO “is like a codependent in an alcoholic household.” [Fox & Friends, 3/26/10]