Quick Fact: Fox Nation gets “nuclear option” wrong again

The Fox Nation again falsely described the budget reconciliation process that some Democrats have suggested as an alternative avenue to passing health care reform legislation as the “nuclear option.” In fact, reconciliation is not the “nuclear option” ; the term “nuclear option” was coined by Sen. Trent Lott in 2005 to refer to a possible Republican attempt to change Senate filibuster rules, while reconciliation is already part of Senate procedure and Republicans have used it repeatedly in the past.

Fox Nation misrepresented Bloomberg article on reconciliation to falsely claim “Dems Threaten Nuclear Option”

From The Fox Nation:

Fox Nation nuclear option

FACT: “Nuclear option” was coined to describe the process to change Senate filibuster rules

Lott described proposal to change filibuster rules as nuclear option. The term “nuclear option” was coined by Lott, one of the leading advocates of a proposal to change the Senate rule that requires a three-fifths supermajority to invoke cloture and end a filibuster. After Republican strategists deemed the term a political liability, Republican senators began to attribute it to Democrats. As Media Matters for America noted, at the time, many in the news media followed suit, repeating the Republicans' false attribution of the term to the Democrats.

FACT: Reconciliation is already part of Senate procedure, and Republicans have used it repeatedly

Reconciliation process is part of Congressional budget process. The budget reconciliation process is defined by the U.S. House Committee on Rules as “part of the congressional budget process ... utilized when Congress issues directives to legislate policy changes in mandatory spending (entitlements) or revenue programs (tax laws) to achieve the goals in spending and revenue contemplated by the budget resolution.”

Republicans have repeatedly used reconciliation to pass President Bush's agenda. Republicans used the budget reconciliation process to pass President Bush's 2001 and 2003 tax cuts as well as the 2005 “Tax Increase Prevention and Reconciliation Act.” The Senate also used the reconciliation procedure to pass a bill containing a provision that would permit oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. (The final version of that bill signed by President Bush did not contain the provision on drilling.)

FACT: The Fox Nation and others at Fox News routinely misuse “nuclear option”

Fox Nation, Fox News personalities routinely invoke the “nuclear option” while discussing reconciliation. The Fox Nation and Fox News personalities like Sean Hannity, Dick Morris, Bret Baier, and Greta Van Susteren have all falsely compared reconciliation to the “nuclear option.” The Fox Nation has also previously coupled its headlines with images of a mushroom cloud from a nuclear bomb.

FACT: Fox Nation routinely misrepresents the articles to which it links

Bloomberg article to which the Fox Nation linked says nothing about the “nuclear option.” The Fox Nation headline links to a January 16 Bloomberg article, which discusses “reconciliation,” and never uses the term “nuclear option.” The article reported, “Even if Democrats lose the Jan. 19 special election to pick a new Massachusetts senator, Congress may still pass a health-care overhaul by using a process called reconciliation, a top House Democrat said.” The article continued: “That procedure requires 51 votes rather than the 60 needed to prevent Republicans from blocking votes on President Barack Obama's top legislative priorities. That supermajority is at risk as the Massachusetts race has tightened.”

The Fox Nation's headlines make assertions that are not backed up by the articles to which they link. Media Matters has documented Fox Nation's history of repeatedly misrepresenting the articles to which they link. For example, a January 15 Fox Nation headline asserted, “Obama Moves to Grant Amnesty to Haitian Illegal Aliens.” However, the article reported on the temporary suspension of deportations of undocumented Haitian immigrants and on widespread calls for the administration to grant temporary protected status to such individuals, making no mention of “amnesty to Haitian illegal aliens.”