Getting Healthy In 2012? Avoid Tips From The Right-Wing Media

Right-wing media, especially Fox News, have a long history of attacking healthy eating and exercise while promoting unhealthy habits such as eating fast food or using too much salt, or getting Botox and going tanning. If getting healthy is one of your goals for 2012, here's why you shouldn't trust any advice from the right-wing media.

Don't Make Kids' Food Healthier!

Happy Meals: Right-Wing Media Attacked McDonald's For Healthier Kids' Meals. Following McDonald's decision to offer “more nutritionally-balanced” Happy Meals and First Lady Michelle Obama's praise of the decision, the right-wing media attacked McDonald's for supposedly bending to the will of the “fat police” and making Happy Meals “less happy.” Co-host Steve Doocy said on Fox News' Fox & Friends that “there's about to be no more happy in [kids'] Happy Meals,” and conservative pundit Michelle Malkin held an “unhappy meal” Photoshop contest on her blog, writing, “I'm running out to Sonic before [sic] right now before they get their grubby Nanny State hands on my cheesy tots and cherry limeade.” [Media Matters, 7/26/11, 7/27/11]

Fox & Friends Freaked Out Over NYC Proposal To Ban Toys In Kids' Fast Food Meals “Unless They Meet Certain Nutritional Guidelines.” On the April 6 edition of Fox & Friends, the co-hosts repeatedly attacked a New York City councilman's proposal to ban toys from kids' fast food meals unless they meet certain nutritional standards. The ban would have applied to meals over 500 calories, which is up to 40 percent of the recommended daily calorie intake for a child. [Media Matters, 4/6/11]

Doocy On Actress' Encouraging Kids To Cook: “They Don't Have To Make Healthy Stuff, Do They?” On the October 21 edition of Fox & Friends, the co-hosts interviewed actress Josie Bissett about her new children's books. When Bissett mentioned an upcoming book that will teach kids to cook, Doocy asked, “They don't have to make healthy stuff, do they?” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 10/21/11, via Media Matters]

Fox Nation Mocked FDA Investigation Of Additive's Impact On Children's Health. In a March 30 post, Fox News' blog Fox Nation posted a link to a New York Times story about a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) assessment of artificial food colorings under the headline, “Obama Cracking Down on Jell-O”:


  • In Fact, The FDA Was “Ask[ing] A Panel Of Experts” To Advise On Possible “Warning Labels On Food” With Artificial Coloring. In fact, the New York Times article to which Fox Nation linked said that “the federal government is for the first time publicly reassessing whether foods like Jell-O, Lucky Charms cereal and Minute Maid Lemonade should carry warnings that the bright artificial colorings in them worsen behavior problems like hyperactivity in some children.” The FDA panel ultimately rejected the idea that warning labels would be necessary on foods containing such artificial dyes. [Media Matters, 4/6/11]

All Portion Sizes Must Remain Huge ...

Kilmeade Mocked Healthier, Smaller Happy Meal Fries Size: “You Might As Well Just Individually Wrap These French Fries.” On the September 16 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Brian Kilmeade mocked McDonald's new, smaller kids' fries size, and said, holding up a sample carton, “Look at the new small fry! Is that unbelievable? You might as well just individually wrap these french fries. ... Even kids would say, 'Mom, come on, what, are you punishing me? Why don't you just ground me?' ” Co-host Gretchen Carlson disagreed and supported the smaller kids' size. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 9/16/11, via Media Matters]

Right-Wing Media Freaked Out Over Red Lobster, Olive Garden Decision To Shrink Portion Sizes. In September, after Darden Restaurants Inc., the parent company of Red Lobster and Olive Garden, announced it would shrink portion sizes and reduce sodium in its meals, right-wing media responded by attacking the decision and claiming the company was “bending to the whims of Michelle Obama.” In a blog post, Malkin claimed that Darden was “strong-armed” into “re-designing meals” by Michelle Obama, while the Drudge Report linked to the story with a picture of Michelle Obama and the words, “Adult Supervision for fries.” [Media Matters, 9/16/11]

... And Should Have Lots Of Salt

Fox & Friends Attacked FDA For Considering Potentially Life-Saving Sodium Standards. On the September 26 edition of Fox & Friends, the co-hosts attacked the FDA for considering ways to get Americans to reduce their salt intake. Kilmeade claimed the plans showed there is a “war on salt,” and Carlson said: “So the FDA has opened up now a formal inquiry into salt reduction, so what is that going to mean? Will we now see that you can't eat salt in your own home, potentially?” Kilmeade also hyped a study that found, according to Kilmeade, that “cardiovascular death rate was highest among those with less salt.”

  • · In Fact, Vast Majority Of Studies Show Salt Intake Linked To Heart Attacks, Coronary Heart Disease, Premature Death. In fact, the majority of studies conducted on sodium intake have found a link between high sodium consumption and cardiovascular disease. In 2009, Time magazine reported that cutting out 1 g of salt per person per day could prevent 30,000 cases of coronary heart disease, and that if Americans halved their salt intake, “as many as 150,000 premature deaths could be prevented each year.” The study Kilmeade cited was criticized for its methodology. [Media Matters. 9/26/11]

Fox & Friends Doubles Down By Hosting President Of The Salt Institute To Call Regulations Part Of An “Agenda That Goes Beyond Science.” On the October 3 edition of Fox & Friends, Doocy hosted Lori Roman, president of the Salt Institute, to claim that the government is considering sodium regulations because “they have an agenda that goes beyond science.” Doocy also baselessly claimed that “if you actually followed what the government wanted you to intake with salt, you would have a big deficiency and you could be more unhealthy.” [Media Matters, 10/3/11]

Fox's Gutfeld Claims That “Curbing Sodium Might Actually Harm You.” On the August 23 edition of Fox News' The Five, co-host Greg Gutfeld hyped the same flawed study that Kilmeade mentioned, saying: “I've always believed that whatever you put salt on gets better. ... Which is why I'm not surprised that a new study has found that curbing salt intake doesn't save lives or prevent heart attacks. In fact, curbing sodium might actually harm you.” Gutfeld later said, “I know there's evidence that lowering sodium intake can help drop blood pressure in some people,” but he continued to suggest that the scientific community does not largely agree that high salt intake is harmful. [Fox News, The Five, 8/23/11, via Media Matters]

If Michelle Obama Wants Healthier Food And Exercise, They Must Be Bad

Right-Wing Media Attacked Michelle Obama And Wal-Mart Over Healthy Foods Initiative. In January, Wal-Mart announced, with the support of Michelle Obama, a plan to offer “more healthful foods.” Right-wing media responded by attacking the plan; Rush Limbaugh claimed that Michelle Obama “bullied” Wal-Mart, while Fox Business host Andrew Napolitano likened her presence at Wal-Mart's announcement to extortion. [Media Matters, 1/21/11]

Right-Wing Media Tried To Link Michelle Obama's “Let's Move” Campaign To Pedestrian Deaths. In January, right-wing media, including blogger Jim Hoft, the Daily Caller, and Rush Limbaugh, hyped a Washington Examiner story that claimed Michelle Obama's “Let's Move” campaign, which encourages Americans to exercise, “could be causing pedestrian deaths.”

  • In Fact, Washington Examiner Story Itself Conceded There Was “No Scientific Evidence That The Let's Move Campaign Has Led To An Increase In ... Deaths.” The Examiner article conceded that there was “no scientific evidence that the Let's Move campaign has led to an increase in walkers and runners, or death.” In comments to Media Matters, a spokesman for the Governors Highway Safety Association called the Examiner story a “total sham.” [Media Matters, 1/20/11]

Attacking Kids' Exercising: Fox & Friends Complained That Children's Easter Egg Roll Also Promoted Exercise. On the March 30 broadcast of Fox & Friends, guest Laura Ingraham attacked Michelle Obama for promoting her “Let's Move!” initiative at the White House Easter Egg Roll. [Media Matters, 3/30/11]

Attacking Halloween Treats: Right-Wing Media Attacked The Obamas For Handing Out Fruit Along With Candy On Halloween. Right-wing media attacked and mocked Michelle Obama and President Obama for handing out dried fruit along with candy this Halloween. [Media Matters, 10/31/11]

Don't Forget To Check Out Botox And Indoor Tanning!

Fox & Friends Attacked HPV Vaccine Law While Promoting Teenage Tanning. During the October 11 edition of Fox & Friends, the co-hosts attacked a California law that will allow adolescents as young as 12 to receive the HPV vaccine, which can protect against cervical cancer, without parental consent. They also juxtaposed this law with a California provision that restricts those younger than 18 from using tanning salons, but failed to note that tanning beds increase the risk of skin cancer by 75 percent. [Media Matters, 10/11/11]

Fox & Friends Hosted Actress To Hype Botox Injections. On October 5, Fox & Friends hosted actress Courtney Thorne-Smith, who identified herself as a Botox spokesperson, to hype Botox injections, which Thorne-Smith referred to as a “cosmetic.” The co-hosts encouraged Thorne-Smith to explain why viewers should consider getting Botox and failed to fully disclose potential side effects of the treatment, which had reportedly led to 180 serious health problems and 16 deaths as of April 2009. [Media Matters, 10/5/11]

Other Attacks On Healthy Eating

Fox's Gutfeld: “Why Are Health Food Freaks Always So Sickly Looking?” On the August 23 broadcast of The Five, Gutfeld said, “Why are health food freaks always so sickly-looking?” Co-host Andrea Tantaros replied, “They're unhappy, because they're not eating any fat.” [Fox News, The Five, 8/23/11, via Media Matters]

Fox Promotes Hypothetical Junk Food Tax, Responds With A “Cultur[al]” Defense Of Macaroni And Cheese. On the July 26 edition of Fox & Friends, Carlson discussed a hypothetical junk food tax, beginning the segment by saying, “Do we really need the government ... policing this?” Her guest, Robert Ferguson, then claimed that "[n]o one has ever really talked about" “what makes foods healthy.” He also said that a person needs to “tak[e] into account different cultures” in order to calculate nutritional value, then concluded: “In my world, I like mac and cheese. ... I'm going to eat it.”

At the beginning of the segment, the following graphic aired:


  • In Fact, “Junk Food” Tax Came From A New York Times Op-Ed. In fact, while Carlson did not explain where the “junk food” tax numbers came from, the “tax[es]” featured in the graphic appeared to have come from a New York Times op-ed, not a government proposal. [Media Matters, 7/26/11]

Fox & Friends Mocked NYC Health Dept. For Issuing Health Guidelines. On the April 4 edition of Fox & Friends, the co-hosts responded to a story that the New York City Health Department issued health guidelines for its workers, which included banning deep-fried foods from being served at work events, by mocking the decision and referring to the department as the “food police.” Doocy listed some of the rules and asked, “How crazy is that?” while Kilmeade said, “Can you imagine being suspended because of three chocolate glazed donuts? Sorry honey, I've been furloughed -- too many calories.” Carlson admitted: “I mean, they're saying -- they're saying that they're doing this because they have to practice what they preach, and you can just imagine that if we found out that they were serving nothing but cake at the Health Department, we'd be talking about it the next morning. So maybe they're -- I mean, I don't know. It's so crazy.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 4/4/11, via Media Matters]