Kitchen sink: Fox's last-ditch effort to rally opposition to health care reform

With a possibile vote to finalize passage of health care reform approaching, Fox News has thrown everything but the kitchen sink to rally opposition, with guest host Laura Ingraham proclaiming, “Let's kill the bill.” For example, Fox News personalities have portrayed the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office as unreliable, falsely claimed that a 2006 earthquake did not occur and attacked an 11-year-old and his family that support reform.

Fox News sets up oppo shop for the weekend

Ingraham on hosting for Fox News: “Let's kill the bill!” Fox News contributor Laura Ingraham posted the following message on her Twitter account: “I'll be hosting the O'Reilly Factor on Friday, 8pm eastern. Let's kill the bill!”

From Ingraham's March 19 post on her Twitter account:

Beck encourages viewers to hold candlelight vigil against health care reform. Glenn Beck asserted: “It is time that you have a candlelight vigil. You peacefully assemble in front of your Congressman's local doors. You go to his office locally, not to Washington. You gather your friends and you stand there, you sleep there. You make sure the press covers a peaceful assembly of people saying, 'We will remember your name 'til the end of time, sir.'” [Fox News' Glenn Beck, 3/15/10]

The Fox Nation highlights “call to arms” in opposition to health care reform. On March 18, The Fox Nation published a headline, “Alert: Jon Voight's Call to Arms - Come to D.C. Sat. to Oppose Obamacare.”

Fox & Friends channels GOP on “facts that people need to know” about health care reform. Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy announced: “So the Republicans have put out some facts that people need to know about this.” Fox News then displayed images under the heading, “GOP: What you need to know. Facts on the Dem health bill.” Doocy continued: “For instance, they say, what they're not talking about is the fact that there's going to be a new Medicare tax on capital gains.” [Fox News' Fox & Friends, 3/19/10]

Cavuto promotes weekend coverage tilted toward conservatives. Your World host Neil Cavuto has promoted his upcoming “Health Care Showdown: What's really up Doc?” coverage, which will air on Saturday, March 20. Cavuto will host conservative radio host Mark Levin, Rep. Jason Altimire (D-PA), Dom Imus, and Mike Huckabee. Cavuto also promoted Friday's Your World guests, including Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), conservative radio host and columnist Jeri Thompson, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), and Republican candidate for California governor Carly Fiorina.

Fox hosts Gene Simmons to bash health care and promote his insurance company. During Fox News' America Live, host Megyn Kelly hosted K.I.S.S. front man Gene Simmons to discuss health care. During his appearance, Simmons called health care reform “horrific” and promoted his life insurance company.

Fox News' weeklong assault: Distortions and falsehoods abound

Fox falsely attributes doctor survey to New England Journal of Medicine. Bill O'Reilly, Glenn Beck, Brian Kilmeade, Sean Hannity and Marc Siegel all pushed the false claim that a New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) survey found that 46 percent of primary care physicians would consider leaving their profession if health care reform legislation passes. In fact, NEJM says they didn't publish or conduct the 3-month-old email “survey,” which was actually conducted by The Medicus Firm and published in an employment newsletter.

Fox News erases 2006 Hawaii earthquake to attack Obama. Responding to President Obama's statement during a Fox News interview that Hawaii “went through an earthquake” and could benefit from a health care reform provision that would help Louisiana cope with Medicaid shortfalls resulting from Hurricane Katrina, Doocy asked, “What Hawaiian earthquake?” In fact, as Fox News itself reported at the time, President Bush declared a “major disaster” after Hawaii was hit by a magnitude 6.7 earthquake in October 2006. [Fox News' Fox & Friends, 3/18/10]

Beck attacks family of 11-year-old who spoke about his mother's death at health care event. Following 11-year-old Marcelas Owens' appearance at a health care reform event to speak about his mother, who reportedly died after losing her health insurance, Beck asked, “Where was grandma” when Marcelas' mother was sick and attacked her work with the organization Washington Community Action Network, saying the group was “all about economic, racial, gender, and social justice for all,” which he called, “pesky phrases.” [Fox News' Glenn Beck, 3/15/10]

Fox calls CBO score untrustworthy. After the Congressional Budget Office estimated that the health care reform reconciliation package would reduce the deficit by $130 billion over 10 years, Fox News -- led by Beck, Hannity, Doocy, Fox News anchor Bill Hemmer and The Fox Nation -- attempted to portray the nonpartisan CBO as untrustworthy and unreliable. By contrast, after the CBO gave a “favorable” score to the GOP health care plan, Fox praised the office as “nonpartisan” and advanced false GOP claims about the CBO's findings.

Fox News suggests Dems were bought off to support health care reform. Dick Morris suggested that Obama “illegal[ly]” nominated Rep. Jim Matheson's (D-UT) brother Scott “to a judgeship with an implicit quid pro quo.” Rep. Matheson's office and the White House have called the smear “ridiculous” and “absurd,” former Bush-appointed judge Michael McConnell definitely debunked the smear and conservatives have stated that Scott Matheson is “plenty qualified for the job.” Likewise, following Rep. Dennis Kucinich's (D-OH) appearance on Fox & Friends to discuss his decision to support the bill, Fox News displayed a graphic stating: “What was Kucinich promised? Congressman changed vote from no to yes.”

Fox anchors falsely attack House rule as undemocratic. Fox News anchors, during their self-described daytime “news hours,” repeatedly forwarded the false suggestion that by using a legislative procedure known as the “self-executing rule” to finalize health care reform in the House, Democrats would be passing health care reform “without actually voting for it.” In fact, passing legislation by using the procedure would require a majority vote. Fox News contributor Newt Gingrich criticized the rule as “incredible” and “passing bills without voting on them,” despite the fact that the Republican Party “set new records” for its use of the self-executing rule in the years following Gingrich's ascension as Speaker.

Grasping at straws: Fox News regurgitates tired health care falsehoods

Fox repeatedly inaccurately reported on abortion funding. Doocy, Hemmer, Kilmeade, Bill O'Reilly, Carl Cameron, Dana Perino and Greta Van Sustren pushed the debunked claim that the Senate health care reform bill contains language that would allow federal funding for abortion beyond what is currently allowed under federal law. In fact, the Senate bill -- which will be considered by the House -- prohibits health insurers from using federal subsidies to pay for abortion services restricted by current federal law.

Hemmer perpetuates debunked health care myth: “Could people be going to jail for not owning health insurance?” Hemmer revived the debunked myth that not buying health insurance “could lead to prison” and asked: “Could people be going to jail for not owning health insurance?” In fact, the penalty for failure to purchase insurance is a tax, not jail time, and willful failure to pay taxes of any sort can result in civil or criminal penalties.

Perino misleads on Medicare tax impact on small businesses. Guest hosting on Fox & Friends, Perino trumpeted the myth that a Medicare investment tax on those making more than $200,000 would affect most small business owners. In fact, fewer than 1.3 percent of small business owners would be affected by the tax.