Fox Turns To 20-Year-Old Debunked Conspiracy Theories To Smear Hillary Clinton
Research ››› ››› HANNAH GROCH-BEGLEY
Fox News is using a planned Hillary Clinton miniseries and documentary to revive decades-old lies about the former Senator and secretary of state, reanimating phony 1990s "scandals" including Whitewater, Travelgate, and Filegate. Every so-called scandal Fox is pushing has been thoroughly discredited by numerous independent investigations.
NBC, CNN Announce Productions Based On Hillary Clinton's Life
NBC Announced Plan To Air Hillary Clinton Miniseries. On July 27, NBC Entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt announced plans for a Clinton-based miniseries timed to precede the 2016 presidential race as part of a new NBC effort "to create 'event' programming that will draw viewers to the shrinking world of broadcast network TV." [NBC, 7/27/13, via Media Matters]
CNN Announced Plan To Produce Documentary About Hillary Clinton. On July 29, CNN announced the network was producing a documentary about Hillary Clinton, and "will release the documentary, which will be directed by Oscar-winning filmmaker Charles Ferguson, in theaters in 2014. It will then air on CNN itself." [The Huffington Post, 7/29/13]
Fox News Turns To Decades-Old Debunked "Scandals" To Smear Clinton
Fox News Suggests NBC And CNN Productions Will Be "Airbrushed" And Won't Include "Travelgate," "Filegate," "Whitewater," And Others. Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy and Fox News contributor and National Review Online columnist John Fund claimed that the recently announced productions from NBC and CNN on Hillary Clinton's life would be "airbrushed" and ignore aspects of Clinton's past, including "misconduct" related to controversies such as "Travelgate," "Cattle Futures," "Whitewater," "Filegate," a government "cover-up" of the health care task force Clinton ran, and the September 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 7/30/13]
Fox News' John Fund Falsely Suggested That Hillary Clinton Wrongfully Fired Employees In The White House Travel Office. From Fox & Friends:
STEVE DOOCY: Let's start with Travelgate. We won't hear about Travelgate. Remind us.
JOHN FUND: Hillary Clinton said it's important we get our people into the travel office of the White House. Six people were fired, accused of criminal misconduct. The head of the travel office indicted. A jury acquitted them in two hours. And all of this to put a 25-year-old cousin of Bill Clinton's into the travel office to head it. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 7/30/13]
Independent Counsel Concluded Decision To Fire Employees Was Lawful. In a June 2000 report on the firings of White House Travel Office employees, Robert Ray, a Republican-appointed independent counsel assigned to investigate the Clintons, wrote that the decision to fire the employees was "lawful" and that "the evidence is insufficient to prove to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt" that either former White House director of administration David Watkins or Hillary Clinton "committed perjury or obstruction of justice during the course of their testimony before GAO, the Congress, and this investigation." [Media Matters, 10/18/07]
Fox News' Steve Doocy and John Fund Falsely Suggested Clinton's Stock Market Success Was Improper. From Fox & Friends:
DOOCY: [H]er dramatic and very effective investing in the stock market when it comes to cattle futures.
FUND: She said she read the Wall Street Journal, decided to invest in the cattle futures market. She put in 1,000 bucks and in nine months, it turned--voila--into 100,000 dollars. Her broker had been suspended previously for manipulating the market, by the way.
DOOCY: Oh yeah. Man, she's a good investor. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 7/30/13]
Officials Found Clinton Committed No Wrongdoing In Commodities Trading. Clinton's commodities investments in the late 1970s were first reported in a highly misleading March 18, 1994, New York Times article that reported she "made about $100,000 in one year in the commodities market with the help and advice of a friend who was the top lawyer for one of the state's most powerful and heavily regulated companies." The author of the Times article acknowledged in his subsequent biography of Clinton that she was never found to have committed any wrongdoing:
While disengaged, Hillary was remarkably successful. In the end, over a period of nine months, Hillary parlayed her $1,000 into almost $100,000, and outstanding though not unprecedented run. (When people hit it big in commodities bets, they can really hit it big.) Her trading profits in 1978 and 1979 were duly reported on the Clintons' tax returns, and there was never any official finding that Hillary had done anything wrong. [Media Matters, 6/13/07]
The NY Times Later Corrected Its Misleading Report. The original Times article reported that Tyson Foods had received "$9 million in government loans" during Bill Clinton's tenure as governor of Arkansas, and suggested that the loans were somehow linked to commodities investment advice Hillary Clinton received from one of Tyson's top lawyers. The following month, the Times issued a correction, noting that Tyson had not received $9 million in state loans:
The lengthy article suggested that Tyson Foods may have been the beneficiary of these purported "state actions" because a top lawyer for the company had reportedly advised Hillary Clinton on lucrative investments. On April 20, 1994, the paper issued a correction asserting that the article "misstated benefits that the Tyson Foods company received from the state of Arkansas" and noting that "Tyson did not receive $9 million in loans from the state." [Media Matters, 5/30/07]
Former Chairman Of The Chicago Mercantile Exchange: No Evidence Of "Any Trading Violations On The Part Of Mrs. Clinton." In a statement released by the White House, former chairman of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange Leo Melamed found no evidence of "any trading violations on the part of Mrs. Clinton":
At the request of the White House, I have examined the records which reflect Mrs. Clinton's trading activity at Refco. It is my considered opinion that unless there are additional records to indicate otherwise, this is a tempest in a teapot. Nothing in these records appears to reflect any trading violations on the part of Mrs. Clinton. ...
What these records show is that Mrs. Clinton was, during 1978 and 1979, a relatively modest trader who traded in a variety of commodities, including cattle, soybeans and hogs. ... (O)n balance, she did extremely well. This was by no means unprecedented at that time. ... Mrs. Clinton's profit, while substantial in every day life, was minuscule when measured against the background of that market era. [Pensions and Investments, 7/11/94, via Media Matters]
NY Times: Clinton's Broker Settled Charges That "Did Not Involve Mrs. Clinton's Account." The New York Times reported in 1994 that Robert Bone, a broker that Clinton had named as executing her trades, "had been disciplined by regulators and settled charges that he tried to corner the egg market and that he had failed to keep proper records. Those accusations did not involve Mrs. Clinton's account." [The New York Times, 3/30/94]
Fox News' Doocy and Fund Falsely Suggested Clintons Were Linked To Wrongdoing In Whitewater Deal. From Fox & Friends:
DOOCY: Of course, that means as well, we won't hear about Whitewater [in the NBC and CNN productions].
FUND: Whitewater, which was a disaster, a bunch of Clinton associates, including his business partners, went to jail over it. And the billing records, which tied Hillary Clinton to Whitewater, mysteriously disappeared for years and were later found at a coffee table in her private quarters.
DOOCY: Yeah, I'm sure that's just a coincidence. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 7/30/13]
Independent Counsel Found "Insufficient" Evidence To Prove Clintons Committed Any Crimes. In September 2000, independent counsel Robert Ray concluded a six-year, $60 million investigation into Whitewater -- a failed real estate deal in which the Clintons lost money -- and found insufficient evidence to demonstrate that the Clintons had committed any crimes. According to the statement from Ray that accompanied the independent counsel's final report:
This office determined that the evidence was insufficient to prove to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt that either President or Mrs. Clinton knowingly participated in any criminal conduct involving Madison Guaranty, C.M.S. [Capital Management Services Inc.], or Whitewater Development or knew of such conduct. The evidence relating to their testimony and conduct, in connection with this investigation and other investigations involving the same entities, was also, in the judgment of this office, insufficient to prove to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt that either of them committed any criminal offense, including perjury or obstruction of justice. [New York Times, 9/21/00, via Media Matters; Media Matters, 2/28/07]
Numerous Government Investigations -- Most Led By Republicans -- Turned Up Insufficient Evidence To Charge The Clintons With Anything. As Media Matters has documented, investigations by special prosecutor Robert Fiske (a Republican), independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr (a Republican), former prosecutor Jay Stephens (a Republican), the House Banking Committee (chaired by Republican Jim Leach), and a Senate Whitewater panel (chaired by Republican Alfonse D'Amato) all failed to produce any evidence with which to charge the Clintons of any crime. [Media Matters, 6/23/04]
Kenneth Starr's Investigation Found No Evidence The Whitewater Billing Records Were Mishandled. In a report to Congress on the investigation into Whitewater, independent counsel Kenneth Starr admitted that he had not found any evidence to prove wrongdoing by the Clintons. The billing records that documented Hillary Clinton's law practice and which were supposedly linked to the Whitewater case had been missing and were later found in the residential quarters of the White House, but Starr noted that after a "thorough investigation" he had not found any evidence to explain their temporary disappearance, or to link it to the Clintons. [The New York Times*, 11/20/98]
Fox News' Doocy and Fund Falsely Claimed Clinton White House Inappropriately Accessed FBI Files Of Republican Appointees. From Fox & Friends:
DOOCY: Remind people about Filegate back in 1996. That, too, won't be in the NBC movie.
FUND: Well, before we had all this high-tech eavesdropping, we had simple paper and the White House managed to get 900 files of Republican appointees from previous administrations sent over the White House and they thumbed through them.
DOOCY: And what did Louis Freeh say about that, the FBI director?
FUND: He said it was a complete, outrageous invasion of privacy. The FBI should never have agreed to the White House's request.
DOOCY: So we won't hear about Filegate. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 7/30/13]
Independent Counsel Robert Ray Found "No Substantial And Credible Evidence" That Clintons Were Involved In Filegate. The "scandal" dubbed by the media as "Filegate" involved the improper collection of FBI background files on former White House employees by then-White House security chief Craig Livingstone. However, in March 2000, independent counsel Robert Ray concluded that there existed no evidence to implicate the Clintons or any senior White House officials in any wrongdoing. As CNN reported on March 16, 2000:
There is "no substantial and credible evidence" that President Bill Clinton and first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton sought confidential Federal Bureau of Investigation background checks of former GOP White House personnel, according to a report filed Thursday by Whitewater Independent Counsel Robert Ray's office.
In a statement, Ray's office said that no substantial and credible [evidence] exists to implicate any other senior White House official in the FBI background files controversy that came to be known as "Filegate," and that no prosecutions would be pursued. It also said prosecution was not warranted after an investigation into whether former White House Counsel Bernard Nussbaum testified falsely to Congress on the matter in 1996. [CNN, 3/16/00, via Media Matters]
In 2010, A Federal Judge Dismissed All Remaining Suits Related To Filegate. Politico reported in 2010 that a federal judge had ruled "there was no intentional misconduct" in the Filegate controversy:
A federal judge in Washington has dismissed the last legal remnants of Filegate, a scandal that engulfed the Clinton White House nearly 14 years ago.
Judge Royce Lamberth dispatched a pair of suits over the matter today, ruling that there was no intentional misconduct and that the acquisition of hundreds of FBI background files on former White House staffers was simply a mix-up.
The nut graph to Lamberth's 28-page ruling:
After years of litigation, endless depositions, the fictionalized portrayal of this lawsuit and its litigants on television, and innumerable histrionics, this Court is left to conclude that with this lawsuit, to quote Gertrude Stein, 'there's no there there.' While this Court seriously entertained the plaintiffs' allegations that their privacy had been violated--and indeed it was, even if not in the sense contemplated by the Privacy Act--after ample opportunity, they have not produced any evidence of the far-reaching conspiracy that sought to use intimate details from FBI files for political assassinations that they alleged. The only thing that they have demonstrated is that this unfortunate episode--about which they do have cause to complain--was exactly what the defendants claimed: a bureaucratic snafu. [Politico, 3/9/10]
HEALTH CARE "COVER-UP"
Fox News' Fund Falsely Stated Clinton Was Involved In Government "Cover-Up" Of Nature Of Health Care Task Force. From Fox & Friends:
DOOCY: And we won't hear about that and how Hillary Clinton tried to fix health care back in '97.
FUND: Right. A federal judge sanctioned the government for a cover-up of the health care task force that Hillary ran. She basically was trying to conceal what they were talking about and what they were deciding on our health care. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 7/30/13]
NY Times: Federal Appeals Court Overturned Finding That Clinton And Admin Officials Acted Improperly On Health Care Task Force. The New York Times reported that a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia overturned a judge's previous ruling that members of the Clinton administration's health care task force had acted improperly in describing "the composition of the task force headed by Mrs. Clinton." The appeals court panel came to "a unanimous decision" that "there was no evidence of bad faith on the part of the Government":
A Federal appeals panel today cleared Ira C. Magaziner, the chief architect of the Clinton Administration's ill-fated health plan, of lying under oath to a Federal court about the nature of the White House task force that helped formulate the plan.
In 1997, a Federal trial judge, Royce C. Lamberth, criticized Mr. Magaziner, saying that he, with the Justice Department and the White House, behaved ''reprehensibly'' and ''dishonestly'' in describing the makeup of the task force. Judge Lamberth said Mr. Magaziner and the Government tried to defend the fact that the task force deliberated in secret by falsely claiming that all of its members were full-time Federal employees when dozens, if not hundreds, of part-time consultants were members.
Judge Lamberth fined the Government more than $285,000 to pay the legal costs of some of the outside medical and consumer groups that had filed suit to require that the task force's deliberations be public.
But the three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit today strongly disagreed with Judge Lamberth's finding. In a unanimous decision the panel said there was no evidence of bad faith on the part of the Government or Mr. Magaziner.
The appeals court held that the district court's findings of bad faith ''are without clear and convincing evidentiary support and that the attorney's fees award therefore cannot be upheld insofar as it rests on bad faith.'' [The New York Times, 8/25/99]
Fox News' Doocy Baselessly Suggested Networks Will "Do Some Air Brushing Over The Unseemly Details" On Benghazi. From Fox & Friends:
DOOCY: Let's talk about something that could be in it. And that would be Benghazi. That happened on her watch, but you got to figure they, too, would probably do some air brushing over the unseemly details where four Americans are murdered.
FUND: Depending on whether or not these new witnesses that are finally coming forward and being allowed to talk to Congress get us closer to the truth on Benghazi. I think the real problem lies in the White House Oval Office. Not in the secretary of state's office. But I still think Benghazi should be covered and it will be. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 7/30/13]
Fox News' Benghazi "Scandals" Have Been Debunked. As Media Matters has documented, Fox News has repeatedly pushed debunked myths involving then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the September 11, 2012, attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya:
- Fox Alleged Obama Administration Dishonestly Blamed Violence On Anti-Muslim Film. Fox framed initial reports that an anti-Muslim video may have inspired the Benghazi attack as a cover-up, though members of Ansar al-Shariah told bystanders they attacked the Benghazi compound "because they were angry about the video," according to The New York Times. The original draft of the unclassified CIA talking points said that "based on currently available information," the attacks were "spontaneously inspired by the protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo" which were sparked by the video. [Media Matters, 7/1/13; 5/8/13; 7/29/13]
- Fox News Accused Hillary Clinton Of Faking Illness To Avoid Testifying About Benghazi. Fox baselessly accused then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of faking an illness after she suffered a concussion in order to avoid testifying before Congress about the Benghazi attacks. But ABC News reported that she was hospitalized due to a potentially life-threatening blood clot. [Media Matters, 12/18/13; 1/2/13]
- Fox Pushed Myth That White House And State Department Edited Benghazi Talking Points For Political Purposes. Fox spent months claiming that the White House and the State Department forced the CIA to remove information from unclassified talking points used by former U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice in television appearances on the Sunday after the Benghazi attacks. Former CIA Director Gen. David Petraeus testified that the intelligence community signed off on the final draft of the talking points and that references to terrorist groups in Libya were removed in order to protect an ongoing investigation and avoid tipping them off. [Media Matters, 5/8/13; 5/15/13; 5/7/13]
- Fox Pushed Republican Allegation That Clinton Personally Signed Cable Reducing Diplomatic Security In Libya. Fox promoted House Republicans' claims that Clinton personally signed a cable that scaled back security at the Benghazi compound prior to the attacks. But other news outlets explained that every single one of the millions of cables sent from the State Department automatically bear the Secretary of State's name. [Media Matters, 4/24/13]
- Fox Reported Myth That Administration Officials Watched Real-Time Footage Of Benghazi Assault. Fox's Sean Hannity led the charge in claiming that State Department officials watched "real-time" video of the Benghazi attacks from an office in Washington, D.C., and thus knew more about the attack than they initially acknowledged, promoting it on a near-daily basis beginning in October 2012. But as Washington Post media blogger Erik Wemple noted, the compound had a closed-circuit television system and officials did not have remote access to the footage and instead received telephone updates. In January, Hillary Clinton reaffirmed administration officials' statements that no remote real-time footage was available when she testified before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs: "There was no monitor; there was no real time." [The Washington Post, Erik Wemple, 11/9/12; Media Matters, 1/24/13]
For more information on how Fox News turned Benghazi into a "phony scandal," click here.
Media Matters intern Charlie Rafkin contributed research to this report.
*This citation has been updated for accuracy