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  • As a guest links Trump's rhetoric with the rise in anti-Semitism, Fox News suddenly cuts to commercial

    Blog ››› ››› JOHN WHITEHOUSE

    On April 27, there was a mass shooting in the Chabad synagogue in Powoy, CA synagogue near San Diego. NBC's Ben Collins and Andrew Blankstein subsequently reported that an open letter was posted on 8chan with the same name as the shooting suspect. The writer of that manifesto took credit for an unsolved arson in a mosque in San Diego; the alleged shooter is now being investigated for that arson, according to the San Diego County Sheriff.

    Former assistant Secretary of State Joel Rubin appeared on Fox News to discuss the shooting. When asked why anti-Semitism is on the rise, Rubin began talking about Trump's rhetoric, before he was quickly cut off and Fox went to commercial.

    The program had just come back from commercials -- the entire segment with Rubin is roughly two minutes long. None of it was mentioned when Fox came back from commercial.

    Fox News is currently in an advertiser crisis -- and Fox executives like Lachlan Murdoch are arguing that "straight news" programs like this one are not pro-Trump propaganda like Fox opinion shows.

    Update (4/28/19): On Twitter, Rubin downplayed being cut off.

  • Fox News spun NY Times report about FBI’s attempts to flip a Russian oligarch involved in organized crime into proof of an anti-Trump “witch hunt”

    For Fox, this is a familiar editorial stance

    Blog ››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    On September 1, The New York Times reported on an unsuccessful years-long FBI program to flip roughly six Russian oligarchs, seeking to turn them into informants for the United States in investigations against Russian organized crime. Justice Department official Bruce Ohr and former British spy Christopher Steele, who authored a dossier of information on President Donald Trump, started communicating about this effort long before Trump announced his run for president, documents released by the Justice Department show.

    And yet, Fox News has been citing, out of context, the documents reported on in the Times as further evidence supporting Trump’s conspiracy theory that there is a “witch hunt” against him.

    While the program began in 2014, eventually -- after evidence of a possible conspiracy was established -- questions about Russian interference in the 2016 elections and Trump campaign collusion were raised with at least one of the program's targets. The Times’ sources told the paper that they revealed the program’s existence to avoid the president and his media allies “us[ing] the program’s secrecy as a screen with which they could cherry-pick facts and present them, sheared of context, to undermine the special counsel’s investigation.”

    But cherry-picked facts taken out of context perfectly describes Fox’s reporting, including its coverage of messages Ohr and Steele exchanged. Fox spun those communiques to suggest under-the-table conspiring by Ohr, Steele, and others at the FBI to maliciously target Trump. Nothing in the Times article suggests that contacts between Ohr and Steele were part of illegitimate DOJ and FBI activity, but Fox stuck to its misleading claim. When the Times article was mentioned, here's how network personalities and guests reacted: 

    In one of Fox’s earliest on-air mentions of the story, the host claimed that Ohr "was working with a man in Deripaska who's known as Putin's oligarch," and suggested that it validated Trump’s claim that the FBI was colluding with Russia. After discussing the article, guest anchor Ed Henry said, “You hear the president say there's collusion on the other side, and yet it doesn't seem to get any traction,” suggesting that in attempting to get Russian oligarchs to inform about organized crime in Russia, Ohr was actually trying to collude with said oligarchs to stop Trump. The Daily Caller’s Amber Athey also claimed details in the report “seem to confirm the president’s tweets that this is a witch hunt against him.”

    Daily Caller White House correspondent Saagar Enjeti told a Fox host that the story shows Steele “used his years-long connection with Ohr in order to push his dossier to the highest levels of the DOJ and the FBI.” In fact, a source in the Times article described Steele telling Ohr about the dossier as “more of a friendly heads-up” and said that “Steele had separately been in touch with an F.B.I. agent” to get his dossier to the bureau. Enjeti also falsely claimed that the dossier “really was the genesis for much of the investigation into President Trump” as well as “all of the other [Trump] associates” targeted. The investigation actually began after the Australian government alerted the FBI to Trump campaign advisor George Papadopoulos’ drunken bragging.

    Fox host Jeanine Pirro cut off a guest who mentioned that “Ohr is there to go after the Russian mob -- that is why the president is probably against Ohr.”

    Fox host Pete Hegseth speculated that “maybe it was Bruce Ohr who was actually flipped by the Russians.” 

    Guest anchor Ed Henry misleadingly described the Times article as saying “Ohr was trying to flip a Russian oligarch against the president.” And when a panel guest accused right-wing media of cherry-picking facts to create a misleading narrative, Henry interrupted him to make another decontextualized and misleading allegation. 

    Fox News contributor Gianno Caldwell claimed that, with the Times report out, “it does appear that it is a witch hunt.”

    Fox’s reaction to the latest development in the Trump/Russia investigations closely mirrors its reaction to many previous news reports that reflected poorly on Trump. The network regularly asserts that negative reports are actually good news for Trump and minimizes bad news. 

    When the Times reported in May that a confidential FBI informant contacted at least two of Trump’s advisers as part of the counterintelligence investigation into his campaign, Fox said it proved only that there was “surveillance of the Trump campaign by the Obama administration.”

    When the congressional hearing for former FBI agent Peter Strzok revealed no evidence that his political beliefs affected his work on the investigation, Fox News simply kept stoking rage over texts that revealed his opposition to the president and included rude comments about Trump supporters.

    When The Washington Post reported that Trump campaign associate Carter Page was the target of a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant after he left the Trump campaign, Fox personalities lied about the warrant and falsely claimed it showed “Donald Trump was right” to accuse former President Barack Obama of spying on him. 

    When the Department of Justice inspector general released a report showing “no evidence” for allegations that former FBI Director James Comey and others allowed their “bias” to affect the Hillary Clinton email investigation, Fox used the report -- which had nothing to do with the Trump-Russia probe -- to call for an end to the special counsel investigation. 

  • Fox News’ Reporting On Fired US Attorney Ignores His Investigation Of Fox News

    ››› ››› BRENNAN SUEN & CHRISTOPHER LEWIS

    In over 40 segments from March 11 through 13 that discussed President Donald Trump’s firing of Preet Bharara, who was U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, Fox News failed to disclose that Bharara was investigating multiple potential crimes committed by the network, including allegedly hiding financial settlements paid to women who accused former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes of sexual harassment.

  • Possible Trump Pick John Bolton Says Allegations Of Russian Electoral Interference Could Be A “False Flag”

    Bolton Previously Suggested Sanders Supporters May Have Hacked DNC In A “Disinformation” Effort To Implicate Russia

    Blog ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT

    Fox News contributor John Bolton aided President-elect Donald Trump’s efforts to undermine the CIA’s assessment that Russia intervened in the 2016 election on Trump’s behalf, repeatedly suggesting the hacking could be a “false flag operation.” Bolton was previously under consideration for secretary of state and is currently a front-runner for deputy secretary of state in the Trump administration.

    The Washington Post reported on December 9 that “the CIA has concluded in a secret assessment that Russia intervened in the 2016 election to help Donald Trump win the presidency.” An anonymous U.S. official briefed on the intelligence said this was “the consensus view” of the intelligence community. Trump, in a Fox News Sunday interview that aired on December 11, called the assessment “ridiculous,” adding that he doesn’t “believe it at all.”

    Bolton, in appearances on Fox News on December 11 and 12, suggested that the hacking could have been a “false flag operation” meant to misleadingly implicate Russia.

    On Sunday’s America’s News Headquarters, Bolton acknowledged the seriousness of a foreign government intervening in the presidential election, but questioned the assessment that Russia did so. Bolton said, “It’s not at all clear to me, just viewing this from the outside, that this hacking into the [Democratic National Committee] and the [Republican National Committee] computers was not a false flag operation.” Bolton claimed that, because the FBI was unable to find evidence that Russia had hacked Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s private server, it was unlikely that Russia would have hacked the DNC and RNC computers and left fingerprints for the CIA to find. Bolton’s claim was based on the unfounded assumption that Russia did successfully hack Clinton’s computer. Bolton also suggested that it was possible someone in the Obama administration or the intelligence community was behind the alleged false flag, answering that “we just don’t know” when asked if he believed that could have happened.  

    Later Sunday on Fox Report, Bolton defended his assertion, saying that he meant to call the CIA’s assessment a “false flag in the sense that this conclusion that the Russians did it, I think, is arrived at too easily.”

    On Monday’s Fox & Friends, Bolton then said, “I think it’s at least a question to be asked, whether or not this was a false flag operation with some foreign government other than Russia.”

    During his Fox & Friends appearance, Bolton also addressed news reports about his comments from the previous day, saying they claimed "I said on Fox yesterday that I thought the Obama administration had conducted the hack into the RNC and the DNC," and calling it “typical bad reporting." He added, “I have never believed that. I didn’t believe that yesterday, I don’t believe it today.” But both CBS News and Politico explained that Bolton in fact did suggest just that. From the CBS News article (emphasis added):

    Though Bolton didn’t elaborate on the term “false flag,” he seemed to be suggesting that someone in the Obama administration or the intelligence agencies could have been attempting to falsely lead the public into believing Russia was to blame for the hacking.

    Shawn followed up by asking, “Are you actually accusing someone here in the administration or in the intelligence community of trying to throw something?”

    Bolton was not specific: “We just don’t know,” he replied. “But I believe that intelligence has been politicized in the Obama administration to a very significant degree.”

    After Bolton made his third appearance on Fox to claim that the hacking could be a “false flag operation,” former Trump foreign policy adviser Carter Page said the “U.S. government might have deliberately orchestrated cyberattacks to make it look as though they were coming from Russia,” according to New York Times reporter Ivan Nechepurenko.

    This is not the first time Bolton has tried to discredit accusations that Russia interfered in the election. In July, while discussing the first dump of DNC emails by WikiLeaks, Bolton suggested that supporters of Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders might have actually hacked the DNC and framed Russia. Bolton claimed, “Somebody who wanted to cast blame on the Russians could put in those indications of other Russian hacking efforts. If I were a Bernie Sanders supporter, and I wanted [the DNC emails] out, and I were good at computers, maybe I'd do that.”

  • Fox Spent Four Hours Trying To Explain Away Obama's "Acts Of Terror" Comments

    ››› ››› JUSTIN BERRIER

    In the second presidential debate, moderator Candy Crowley corrected Mitt Romney after he falsely claimed that President Obama had waited 14 days to describe the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Libya as an act of terror. In the two days after the debate, Fox News aired 55 segments, totaling more than four hours, that attempted to portray Obama's reference to "acts of terror" as a general statement or as referring to another incident.

  • Fox News Attacked Government Regulation, Ignored Lax Regulation In Meningitis Outbreak

    Blog ››› ››› OLIVER WILLIS

    Fox News has ignored the role of lax regulation in a multi-state meningitis outbreak that has killed at least 8 people and prompted a Center for Disease Control alert and voluntary recall from the manufacturer of a steroid treatment. The legal status of the medicine in question is murky, and is not subject to strict federal or state regulation. Last year, Fox ran a week-long campaign attacking government regulations, claiming that they would "expose how excessive laws are drowning American business." Fox News has a long track record of attacking government regulation.

  • Fool's Gold: Fox Pushes Shady Stat On Olympic Medal Taxes

    Blog ››› ››› CHELSEA RUDMAN

    Fox News is bolstering its anti-tax crusade with bogus numbers about the taxes that American Olympic medalists will have to pay on their prizes.

    The bogus numbers come from Grover Norquist's group, Americans for Tax Reform, which claims that gold medalists will owe up to $9,000 on their medal and the accompanying $25,000 cash prize.

    But PolitiFact has rated this claim "mostly false." PolitiFact noted that ATR's calculations assume the prizes will be taxed at the top income tax rate, despite the fact that many Olympic athletes earn far less than that. PolitiFact also noted the calculations assume the medalists will fail to deduct any business expenses on their winnings.

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    Yet Fox uncritically hyped ATR's claim -- a guest from ATR on Your World with Neil Cavuto even speculated that these taxes could result in American competitors deliberately "throwing races" to get silver medals and lower their tax bills:

    Fox also promoted ATR's shady statistic on four other shows on August 1: Studio B, The Five, Special Report, and The Fox Report.

  • Wave Of Inaccurate Reporting Follows GOP's Latest Solyndra Release

    ››› ››› SHAUNA THEEL

    Reporting on emails selectively released by House Republicans, numerous media outlets falsely claimed the documents show Obama donor George Kaiser -- whose family foundation invested in Solyndra -- discussing Solyndra's federal loan with the White House, with Fox going even further to claim "quid pro quo." In fact, the emails occurred after Solyndra had already received the loan guarantee and do not indicate that Kaiser discussed the loan with the White House.

  • Fox Breathlessly Reports That There Are [Eight] Boots On The Ground In Libya

    Blog ››› ››› HARDEEP DHILLON

    Fox News is suggesting that President Obama has broken a promise he made in March that he would not put boots on the ground in Libya. But as Fox itself is reporting, there are a total of "[e]ight boots ... belonging to four individuals" on the ground.

    And those four individuals are "military personnel with expertise in explosives" and "general security" personnel advising the State Department on how to rebuild the U.S. embassy in Tripoli. So it sure does not appear that Obama has broken any promises not to put boots on the ground to fight in Libya.

    Nevertheless, here's supposed "straight-news" anchor Jenna Lee beginning a report by claiming that "We've heard the president and others say that there will be no boots on the ground in Libya and now we know that there are boots on the ground":

    The story also made Fox's evening "straight news." On The Fox Report, correspondent Jennifer Griffins' concluded a segment on "U.S. boots on the ground in Libya" by stating that "Both State Department and Pentagon officials today insist that this is not a breach of the president's promise not to place boots on the ground, a promise that he made back in March." The host of the show, Shepard Smith, sarcastically replied to Griffin stating, "And they also insist it's not a war so there you go."

    An article on FoxNews.com parroted the same information in an article titled "U.S. Boots on the Ground In Libya, Pentagon Confirms." The article stated that "Obama assured Americans in March when the bombing campaign over Libya began that there would be no boots on the ground. From the East Room of the White House on March 18, he said: "The United States is not going to deploy ground troops into Libya."

  • Fox Whitewashes Ensign Ethics Scandal

    ››› ››› MELODY JOHNSON

    After the release of the findings of the Senate Ethics Committee's hearing on former Senator John Ensign (R-NV), which determined that Ensign may have broken various laws in order to cover up an extramarital affair, Fox News largely ignored the story. All of the network's primetime opinion shows, as well as its morning opinion show Fox & Friends, completely neglected to report on the story.