Over the past few months, Fox News has engaged in an all-out campaign against Rep. Barney Frank through insults, falsehoods, and continuous promotion of his opponent, Sean Bielat.
Fox wages smear campaign against Frank
Beck targets Frank to attack financial regulation legislation. On the September 6 edition of his Fox News show (accessed via Nexis), Glenn Beck claimed the financial regulation reform bill “will only make things much, much worse -- and on a global scale. You know who's in charge of this? Oh, this is so great. We got Barney Frank now putting final touches on the bill. I love Barney Frank.”
Hannity to Frank: "[I]f you want to find out who's to blame for your sinking popularity ... look in the mirror." On the September 29 edition of his Fox News show (accessed via Nexis), Sean Hannity noted that Frank had recently accused him of leveling “mostly inaccurate attacks” and responded, “Now, Congressman, if you want to find out who's to blame for your sinking popularity, all you need to do is look in the mirror.” Later in the episode, Fox Business' Sandra Smith said, “You've got Barney Frank, you know, shaking in his pants right now, bringing in former President Clinton.” Fox News contributor S.E. Cupp responded, “I don't want to think about Barney Frank shaking in his pants.”
S.E. Cupp on Frank: “He is brain dead; he is incompetent; I think he's a little crazy.” On the October 7 edition of Hannity, Cupp said: “I am from the great state of Massachusetts, and I am going to personally hold Massachusetts accountable for continuing to elect this guy. I mean, he is brain dead; he is incompetent; I think he's a little crazy. ... The people of Massachusetts keep giving this guy their imprimatur. I don't know what they're thinking.” Hannity earlier alleged: “This is now the third time in two weeks, [Frank] mentions me by name. Seems to be obsessed with me.”
Doocy calls Frank, “Bailout Barney.” During the October 5 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy claimed that Frank “for the first time in a lot of years” has “a challenger up there.” Doocy read a portion of a fundraising email sent out by the Frank campaign, concluding, “That's according to Bailout Barney.”
O'Reilly: People in Frank's congressional district “would vote for Ahmadinejad.” On the April 15 edition his Fox News show, Bill O'Reilly noted that the “the tea party people in Boston yesterday are targeting our pal Barney Frank. Now this is impossible. I know this district very well, and they would vote for Ahmadinejad there.”
Fox Nation: “Barney Frank Makes Absurd Claim During Debate.” Fox Nation posted video of a debate between Frank and Bielat under the headline, “Barney Frank Makes Absurd Claim During Debate.” The post featured the entire 30-minute debate but did not identify what the “absurd claim” was. From the Fox Nation:
Fox Nation: “Barney Frank Throws Temper Tantrum During Debate.” Fox Nation posted video clips of another debate between Frank and Bielat under the headline, “WATCH: Barney Frank Throws Temper Tantrum During Debate.” From the Fox Nation:
Crowley: Frank “was almost single-handedly responsible for the economic crisis.” On the October 12 broadcast of Fox Business' America's Nightly Scoreboard, Fox News contributor Monica Crowley falsely claimed that Frank “was almost single-handedly responsible for the economic crisis with his failure of oversight of Fannie and Freddie. He is corrupt; he needs to go.” In fact, Frank has advocated for policies that emphasize low-income home rentals as opposed to homeownership and supported legislation to strengthen oversight over Fannie and Freddie.
Fox simultaneously campaigning for Frank's opponent, portraying his seat as in danger
Fox Nation: “Barney Frank Blasts Talk Radio as Polls Show His Seat in Jeopardy.” The Fox Nation posted a September 30 Washington Times article under the headline, “AUDIO: Barney Frank Blasts Talk Radio as Polls Show His Seat in Jeopardy.”
Hannity hosts Bielat to attack Frank, Park51. On the August 23 edition of Hannity (accessed via Nexis), Bielat and Hannity attacked the Park51 project before Hannity began promoting Bielat's campaign. Hannity asked Bielat: “We saw what happened obviously with Scott Brown. Do you think you can take out [Frank]?” He then allowed Bielat to attack Frank, claiming he's “running scared” and has “changed his positions on Fannie and Freddie.”
Morris: “Let's go for some rooks, castles, and bishops like Barney Frank and Steny Hoyer.” On the September 30 edition of Fox & Friends, Dick Morris said: “We're knocking off a lot of pawns [in the midterms]. Let's go for some rooks, castles, and bishops like Barney Frank and Steny Hoyer.”
Fox & Friends hosts cheerlead for Bielat to the point that Bielat actually corrected their Frank misinformation. Later on the September 30 edition of Fox & Friends, Brian Kilmeade and Steve Doocy hosted Bielat for a softball interview, beginning by falsely claiming that Frank was to blame for the housing crisis. Kilmeade asked Bielat: “Barney Frank delivers for his district. Sean, are you gonna -- are you willing to tell your district, I'm delivering for the country, not just for you?” At the end of the interview, Kilmeade falsely claimed that Frank has “about $12 million in the bank” ; Bielat had to correct him by saying, “I think that's a little on the high side. It's more like 2 million.”
Doocy introduces interview with Frank by claiming that “his opponent is gaining some steam.” On the October 7 edition of Fox & Friends (accessed via Nexis), Doocy introduced a segment with Frank by claiming: “Democratic Congressman Barney Frank is considered the clear frontrunner in the race to retain his seat in Congress up there in Massachusetts. But his opponent is gaining some steam.” During the interview, Doocy played one of Bielat's campaign ads and called the people featured in the ad “general folks from Massachusetts.”
Morris targets Frank to plug his PAC. On the October 4 edition of Hannity (accessed via Nexis), Morris again plugged his PAC by saying: "[T]omorrow, I'm launching a new pact which is going to concentrate on the 60th, 70th, 80th, 90th and 100th seat. It's my case is that there are districts out there, like Barney Frank's and Steny Hoyer's and [John] Dingle's [sic] in the House, where you can defeat him if you go in and you advertise and you do an independent expenditure."
Morris reacts to news that Frank will appear on Fox & Friends: “Maybe you'll have a former congressman on your show.” On the October 7 edition of Fox & Friends (accessed via Nexis), Morris called Frank one of the congressmen that he is targeting for defeat. Co-host Gretchen Carlson said, “But interestingly enough, Barney Frank is going to be on the show today.” Morris responded, “Maybe you'll have a former congressman on your show.” Carlson later called Frank one of the Democrats who are on “the far left.”
Morris again plugs his new project on Hannity by targeting Frank. On the October 11 edition of Hannity, Morris appeared in order to promote his project, Super PAC. During the segment, Morris said: “What I'm doing now is I have this thing called Superpacusa.com -- Superpacusa.com. Don't watch this show without a pencil and paper. And what I'm doing, basically, is putting together an independent expenditure to go into those 20 or 30 or 40 districts. And you know who's on my list? Barney Frank, and Steny Hoyer, and John Dingell.”
O'Reilly: Frank is “feeling the election heat. His opponent may be closing in.” On the October 5 edition of The O'Reilly Factor (accessed via Nexis), O'Reilly played a clip of Frank's appearance on Fox & Friends and said, “Even congressman Barney Frank feeling the election heat. His opponent may be closing in.” Later in the show, O'Reilly told guest Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH): "[Y]our seat is considered safe, but I'm not so sure about your pal Barney Frank," then responded to Kucinich by saying, “You think he's going to be reelected based on his service? On the House Financial Committee, when Fannie and Freddie collapsed?”
Despite Fox's suggestion, Frank's seat is not in danger
FiveThirtyEight predicts Frank's chances of being re-elected are 100 percent. Despite Fox's relentless suggestion that Frank's seat is in danger, The New York Times' election forecast blog FiveThirtyEight predicts that Frank has a 100 percent chance of winning re-election, which has not changed since February. From FiveThirtyEight: