Fox News hyped results from poll questions premised on falsehoods to reinforce its phony narrative about the attack on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, that left four Americans dead. This fits with Fox News' history of pointing to public opinion polls to suggest that false talking points it has promoted are fact.
Fox News reported these poll results as it was announced that U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice was withdrawing as a candidate for secretary of state. Fox News led a relentless smear campaign against Rice alleging that her statements about Benghazi on Sunday morning news shows were somehow a scandal, despite copious evidence to the contrary.
While discussing the Benghazi attack, international correspondent Catherine Herridge and Fox Business anchor Lou Dobbs each cited a Fox News poll question that asked, “On the night of the attack, do you think President Obama should have ordered U.S. troops to go to Benghazi and help the Americans at the consulate there?” Sixty-five percent said yes, but the question falsely suggests that the Obama administration didn't act to help Americans in Benghazi.
In reality, reinforcements from the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli arrived in Benghazi the night of the attack. Furthermore, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has said that a military response to the attack was not possible.
Herridge and Dobbs also cited a poll question that asked, “Do you think the Obama administration has covered-up what happened” in Benghazi? Though 48 percent agreed, the question is premised on a Fox News conspiracy theory -- the Obama administration has continually said that it was sharing information as it developed, and multiple investigations of the attack are under way.
Fox News has repeatedly suggested that opinion polls that support its favorite falsehoods are more somehow more significant than factual evidence. For instance, FoxNews.com reported last year on poll that found a majority of Americans believed there was “significant disagreement” about climate change among scientists, despite the fact that this is not true.
As we wrote at the time: “It's a great trick. Repeatedly tell people that scientists disagree on whether manmade global warming is happening and then when that misconception shows up in public opinion polls, you get to report on that too!”
Similarly, Special Report pointed to the results of misleading Fox News poll questions to back up the network's campaign to promote voter ID laws that disenfranchise eligible voters.
From the December 13 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier:
From the December 13 edition of Fox Business' Lou Dobbs Tonight: