On his Fox News show, Sean Hannity misleadingly aired video from the 9-12 March on Washington while discussing Rep. Michele Bachmann's (R-MN) much smaller November 5 anti-health care reform rally to claim that “twenty-thousand plus” people showed up to Bachmann's protest. Hannity's video switch-up -- which Jon Stewart highlighted on The Daily Show -- is just the latest example of Fox News hosts' extensive history of deceptively using video and photos to advance a false or misleading story line.
Fox News has history of deceptively using video to advance dubious storylines
Hannity aired video from 9-12 rally while discussing Bachmann's recent rally. As Stewart noted, Hannity aired video of the 9-12 rally while he was interviewing Bachmann on his November 5 show about an “Emergency House Call” rally that she and other GOP members held that day to protest Democrats' health care reform bill. Hannity said, “Twenty-thousand plus people showed up. Were you as surprised as I was?” Bachmann replied that “estimates are anywhere between 20 and 45,000 people had assembled.” While she was speaking, Hannity interspersed actual footage from Bachmann's rally, with footage from the 9-12 rally, which reportedly drew 70,000 people. According to MSNBC, “Three Capitol Hill police officers all guessed that the crowd numbered at about 4,000” in attendance for Bachmann's protest.
From the November 10 edition of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart:
Fox News encouraged crowd to cheer during report on 9-12 rally. During live coverage of the 9-12 rally -- which Fox News heavily promoted -- Fox News correspondent Griff Jenkins stated that protesters were “coming out to have their voices heard” and were an “absolute grassroots movement.” As he was speaking, the crowd assembled behind him cheered, apparently in response to his words. However, other footage later revealed that a Fox News producer was encouraging the crowd to cheer by waving her hands in the air while Jenkins spoke.
Beck claimed G-20 protesters in Pittsburgh carried a hammer-and-sickle symbol, but image actually came from a California school's “Class of 2007” mosaic. On the September 29 edition of his Fox News show, Glenn Beck claimed that "[t]he very next day after the premiere" of Michael Moore's new film, Capitalism: A Love Story, “people were on the streets” of Pittsburgh protesting the G-20 summit “with this.” Beck then aired an image of a hammer and sickle and read from the photo, “Oh, look at that -- 'Capitalism Will Fail' down there at the bottom.” But the image Beck aired was not from the G-20 protests in Pittsburgh. Rather, as FoxNews.com reported on June 25, the image was of a “Class of 2007” mosaic painted by eighth-graders on tiles outside a Berkeley, California, school. The following is the image that Beck aired during his report:
Fox News presented deceptively cropped six-month-old Biden clip as new. During the March 16 edition of Fox News' The Live Desk, co-host Martha MacCallum misleadingly aired a six-month old clip of Vice President Joe Biden saying, “The fundamentals of the economy are strong,” while claiming that “after weeks of economic doom and gloom, the Obama administration is now singing a slightly different tune.” MacCallum then purported to contrast Biden's remarks -- which she characterized as from “this weekend” -- with what then-Sen. Barack Obama said during the 2008 presidential campaign, when he criticized Sen. John McCain for stating that the “fundamentals of our economy are strong, but these are very, very difficult times.” However, Biden did not make his remarks that weekend; Biden made his remarks at a September 15, 2008, campaign event, and, like Obama, was criticizing McCain for his remarks -- not echoing McCain. MacCallum later apologized for the incident.
Fox News has repeatedly used doctored video and photos to smear progressives
Media Matters for America has documented numerous examples of Fox News hosts and correspondents cropping comments by progressives and Democratic political figures, and in one case, the appearance of New York Times reporters, in a manner that misrepresents them. For instance:
Ingraham used doctored video to smear Gore. On the May 1 edition of The O'Reilly Factor, during a segment suggesting that former Vice President Al Gore has profited from his advocacy of renewable energy and climate change mitigation, guest host Laura Ingraham presented clips of Gore's April 24 congressional testimony that had been edited to remove his statements that he donates the money he makes from his climate-related work to a nonprofit organization.
Goler reverses meaning of Obama quote to falsely suggest he supports European-style health care. During the April 24 edition of Fox News' Special Report, White House correspondent Wendell Goler cropped a comment by President Obama and took it out of context -- effectively reversing the statement's meaning -- to falsely suggest that Obama supports creating a health care system “like the European countries.” Goler claimed that Obama “doesn't want to do it halfway” on health care, and then aired a clip from a March 26 online town hall event of Obama saying, “If you're going to fix it, why not do a universal health care system like the European countries?” Following the clip, Goler reported: “His critics worry universal health care would mean government-run health care.” In fact, Obama actually said, "Now, the question is, if you're going to fix it, why not do a universal health care system like the European countries? [emphasis added]" In doing so, Obama was paraphrasing the town hall question he had been asked -- “Why can we not have a universal health care system, like many European countries, where people are treated based on needs rather than financial resources?” -- before explaining why he opposed such a system.
Hannity cropped comment to suggest Obama “blame[s] America.” On the April 3 edition of his Fox News show, Hannity played a clip of Obama saying in an April 3 speech in Strasbourg, France: “In America, there's a failure to appreciate Europe's leading role in the world. Instead of celebrating your dynamic union and seeking to partner with you to meet common challenges, there have been times where America's shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive.” Hannity then said: “And the liberal tradition of blame America first, well, that's still alive.” Hannity later asked: “Why is there this anti-Americanism in Europe?” In fact, immediately after the part of the speech Hannity played, Obama criticized anti-Americanism in Europe as well as Europeans who “choose to blame America for much of what's bad.”
Fox News cropped Obama quote on empathy. During the May 1 edition of Special Report, saying it was a “description of how the president hopes his nominee will interpret the law,” congressional correspondent Major Garrett aired a clip in which Obama stated, “I view that quality of empathy, of understanding and identifying with people's hopes and struggles, as an essential ingredient for arriving at just decisions and outcomes.” Garrett then said, “That aggravates those who believe justices should follow the Constitution and legislative intent.” But Garrett omitted the very next sentence, in which Obama stated: “I will seek somebody who is dedicated to the rule of law, who honors our constitutional traditions, who respects the integrity of the judicial process and the appropriate limits of the judicial role.”
Fox News aired altered photos of NY Times reporters. On the July 2, 2008, edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-hosts Steve Doocy and Brian Kilmeade labeled New York Times reporter Jacques Steinberg and editor Steven Reddicliffe “attack dogs,” claiming that Steinberg's June 28, 2008, article on the “ominous trend” in Fox News' ratings was a “hit piece.” During the segment, however, Fox News featured photos of Steinberg and Reddicliffe that appeared to have been digitally altered -- the journalists' teeth had been yellowed, their facial features exaggerated, and portions of Reddicliffe's hair moved further back on his head. Fox News gave no indication that the photos had been altered.