Fox Guest Bursts Their Bubble: Climate Change Is "One Of The Most Important Issues" In Florida Politics
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Fox News aired a new attack ad from the NRA that misrepresents Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s record to falsely claim she “could take away” your “right to self-defense.” Before and after airing the ad, Fox personalities gave credence to its faulty premise.
A new $5 million ad buy from the NRA depicts a home invasion attack where a woman is awoken in her home as a man kicks in her door. The woman begins to open a gun safe to retrieve a weapon but the gun vanishes as a narrator says, “Hillary Clinton could take away her right to self-defense.” The premise of the ad, which suggests Clinton would ban gun ownership, is false: Clinton has repeatedly said that legitimate Second Amendment rights should be protected while she advocated for expanding background checks on gun sales and other measures to prevent dangerous people from accessing guns. She has also explained that you can call for stronger gun laws “and still support the right of people to own guns.” Fact-checkers have repeatedly rated as false the clai
Fox’s The Real Story aired the NRA ad on September 20. Fox News national correspondent John Roberts credulously gave credence to the ad’s claim with his lead-in: “It's a $5 million buy in five battleground states in which they take aim at Hillary Clinton and her push for new gun control and what that means -- might mean, rather, for people's safety. Watch this.”
After the ad aired, Roberts said an NRA representative told him that “this ad is particularly timely right now considering what happened in New York City and New Jersey over the weekend and the fact that Donald Trump last week called out Hillary Clinton for wanting to implement new gun controls while at the same time keeping a phalanx of armed guards around her.”
Real Story host Melissa Francis responded, “Right. Right. Always a good point.”
In fact, the Republican nominee's claim that Clinton’s Secret Service detail should disarm, which echoes a common NRA attack on Clinton, is also based on the falsehood that Clinton opposes private gun ownership.
From the September 20 edition of The Real Story:
Fox Guest: "Political Correctness Kills"
Right-wing media figures parroted Donald Trump’s suggestion that so called “political correctness” led to the bombings in New York City and New Jersey because of America’s unwillingness to profile Muslim Americans indiscriminately during the immigration process.
Fox Business contributor Liz Claman misleadingly suggested a spurious connection between Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and Mylan, the pharmaceutical company under fire for raising the price of the EpiPen. She based her claim on a picture taken of Bill Clinton and the former CEO Robert Coury and a donation Mylan gave to the Clinton Foundation to aid the fight against HIV in 2009. Using the guise of other Clinton Foundation stories that have equally little merit, Claman says that the 2009 photograph and donation "on a completely unrelated HIV issue" led "Fox and Fox Business" to look into "the Clinton Foundation issue" as an aspect of the EpiPen price change. However, the segment failed to note Hillary Clinton's statement denouncing the price hike as outrageous and calling on Mylan to immediately drop its prices. Both are evidence against the right-wing media smear that the Clintons shield Clinton Foundation donors from scrutiny or give them special treatment.
SHANNON BREAM (CO-HOST): Well and you mention the name Hillary Clinton but now there are questions about if this company has links to the Clinton Foundation as well?
LIZ CLAMAN: Well, it appears that back I think in about 2009 -- I could be incorrect on the exact date there, Robert Coury, who was the then-CEO, actually was heading the company, he appeared in a photograph with Bill Clinton. He had made about a $100,000 to $250,000 donation to the Clinton Foundation on a completely unrelated HIV issue that they felt was really important that the Clinton Foundation was doing good work on. Okay, fine. But what you have is a PR problem that has now turned into a PR tsunami disaster because they simply raised the drug price of the EpiPen so much for no apparent reason. So now everybody is looking into -- Fox and Fox Business -- the Clinton Foundation issue, the tax aversion where they dodged taxes. Because they have a sparkling headquarters that was just built in 2014 in Pittsburgh. Really? Because we thought you moved to the Netherlands. All these questions now surface. And then they don't return our phone calls.
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Right-wing media labeled the second night of the Democratic National Convention as an “anti-law enforcement rally” because a group of seven mothers, known as the Mothers of the Movement, were invited to speak about losing their children to gun violence or excessive use of force by police. While right-wing media figures have said that the Democratic Party “shows no respect for law enforcement,” the Pittsburgh Police Chief spoke prior to the mother's’ plea to “seek common ground” between law enforcement and communities, while one of the mothers lauded police, saying, “The majority of police officers are good people doing a good job.”
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On July 14, 2015, the anti-choice group Center for Medical Progress (CMP) released the first of 14 deceptively edited videos smearing Planned Parenthood.
To mark the one-year anniversary of its deceptive campaign, the anti-choice group released a “video overview of the past year” that purported to show “senior-level Planned Parenthood leadership negotiating the sale and haggling over the price of aborted baby body parts.”
Despite the fraudulent nature of CMP’s claims, right-wing media seized on the opportunity to attack Planned Parenthood. CMP’s smear campaign served as the catalyst for a year of media-driven misinformation about Planned Parenthood, including efforts to defund the organization and ongoing congressional witch hunts against abortion providers and medical researchers.
By the numbers, here’s what a year of anti-choice deception looks like:
After CMP published its first video in July 2015, right-wing media were among the first to consistently give a platform to the anti-choice group’s misinformation.
Following the release of CMP’s second video on July 21, 2015, Fox News dedicated 10 segments across seven separate programs to hyping the deceptively edited footage in a single one day. According to a Media Matters count of Fox News programming on July 21, 2015, America’s Newsroom aired three segments on CMP’s smear videos, while both Special Report and The O’Reilly Factor discussed the allegations across two separate segments on each program. The Real Story with Gretchen Carlson, On The Record with Greta Van Susteren, and The Kelly File each devoted one segment to CMP.
Another recent Media Matters study found that during a 14-month period from January 1, 2015, through March 6, 2016, Fox News’ evening news programs relied on extreme anti-choice figures and misinformation to help promote CMP’s smear campaign. For example, Fox host Bill O’Reilly called for an FBI investigation into Planned Parenthood while network correspondent Peter Doocy claimed that he “searched the Planned Parenthood website for fetal baby part prices” but didn’t get any results because the practice is a “well-kept secret.”
According to the National Abortion Federation, in 2015 there was a “dramatic increase in hate speech and internet harassment, death threats, attempted murder, and murder” of abortion providers -- likely inspired by CMP’s incendiary allegations and rhetoric. NAF president and CEO Vicki Saporta noted that the ninefold increase in harassment and threats of abortion providers since the release of CMP videos was “unprecedented.”
In September 2015, the FBI released an intelligence assessment that warned of an uptick in violence against abortion providers and clinics. This prediction was tragically borne out in November 2015 when suspected shooter Robert Dear killed three people and injured several more at a Colorado Planned Parenthood health care center.
Planned Parenthood has not been the only target of this violence and harassment. In December 2015, Scott Anthony Orton was arrested for making death threats against employees of StemExpress, the biomedical company targeted in several of the discredited CMP videos. As reported by The News Tribune, Orton posted more than 18 different threatening messages that led to his arrest. In April 2016, Orton pleaded guilty to threatening StemExpress employees.
Since July 2015, Media Matters has extensively documented the deceptive edits and misleading information in CMP’s videos. Throughout the 14 videos, CMP has targeted eight Planned Parenthood providers by name. In a July 14 post announcing the release of its one-year anniversary video, CMP reiterated the names of these providers and provided links to each of their deceptive videos. By recording abortion providers without their consent and identifying them by name, CMP not only exposed the targeted providers to increased threats of violence, but also raised the spectre of anti-choice violence against all reproductive health care providers.
For example, after Dear allegedly carried out his deadly attack on a Colorado Planned Parenthood, MedStar Washington Hospital Center barred abortion provider Dr. Diane J. Horvath-Cosper from publicly speaking about the need for great abortion access. The hospital’s medical director issued the gag order after the Planned Parenthood attack “out of concerns for security,” saying he didn’t want to draw attention to MedStar’s abortion and reproductive health care services.
Nina Liss-Schultz reported for Mother Jones that the November Planned Parenthood attack “highlighted a fact of life that abortion providers and clinic staff have known for decades: Sophisticated and extensive security are necessary to protect both providers and patients.”
The congressional Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives was formed in October 2015, several months after CMP began releasing deceptively edited videos in an attempt to smear Planned Parenthood.
Since the select panel’s inception, the media have criticized its actions as a politically motivated “witch hunt” and a “Benghazi treatment” of Planned Parenthood. In its 10 months of operation, the select panel has found no substantiated evidence of wrongdoing, prompting numerous lawmakers to call for its disbandment. Although select panel Chairman Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) has insisted Republicans are on a “fact finding mission,” Media Matters has sourced numerous documents used by the select panel as “evidence” to CMP’s website and deceptive videos.
The Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives is comprised of eight Republican and six Democrat members. The Democrats on the select panel include: Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO), Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA), Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-WA), Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ), and ranking member Rep. Janice Schakowsky (D-IL).
Since the panel’s inception, the Democrat members have consistently voiced their concerns about the methods and motivations of the Republican members. Commenting on the Republican member’s interim report, Schakowsky pointedly criticized the panel’s work, stating, “Never before have I witnessed such a disconnect between allegations and the facts.” Schakowsky previously called out the select panel as a “dangerous witch hunt” against abortion providers.
On June 27, the Supreme Court ruled 5-3 that Texas’ extreme anti-choice law HB 2 was unconstitutional because it imposed an “undue burden on abortion access.” Supporters of HB 2 argued that the law’s requirements were medically necessary to protect the health and safety of women during abortions. In reality, these restrictions were based on anti-choice myths about abortion, offered no medical benefits to patients, and substantially burdened women’s ability to access safe and legal abortion.
In reaction to the Supreme Court’s decision, CMP’s founder David Daleiden issued a press release calling it a “nearly incoherent abortion ruling” that was “little more than a naked power grab that calls into question the Court’s continued adherence to the rule of law.” Daleiden maintained that CMP’s work would have convinced the Supreme Court otherwise if it were not under “a gag-order from the federal court in San Francisco.”
Out of CMP’s 15 videos -- including the anniversary recap video -- four are labeled a “documentary web series” called the Human Capital Project. CMP described the four videos as a documentary-style expose that “integrates expert interviews, eyewitness accounts, and real-life undercover interactions to tell the story of Planned Parenthood’s commercial exploitation of aborted fetal tissue.”
Throughout the four Human Capital Project videos, CMP relied heavily on the testimony of former StemExpress employee Holly O’Donnell to falsely allege that Planned Parenthood participated in the illegal sale of donated fetal tissue and to make other unproven allegations of improper conduct.
In reality, the claims in the so-called “documentary” videos have been thoroughly debunked. Citing previously unseen footage, the Los Angeles Times released an investigative report in March that confirms “O’Donnell’s apparently spontaneous reflections were carefully rehearsed” and that off-camera, Daleiden can be heard “coaching O’Donnell through repeated takes.”
Since CMP began its smear campaign against Planned Parenthood last July, there have been three lawsuits filed against the anti-choice group, its founder David Daleiden, and his various associates.
In a comprehensive look at the impact of CMP’s campaign of deception, Rewire’s Jessica Mason Pieklo and Imani Gandy summarized the charges and timeline of each of the lawsuits filed against Daleiden and his co-conspirators. According to Peklo and Gandy, Daleiden and CMP face suits from StemExpress -- the biomedical tissue procurement company that previously partnered with Planned Parenthood and has been depicted in some of CMP’s videos -- the National Abortion Federation, and Planned Parenthood.
In addition to the lawsuits they face, Daleiden and one of his associates were indicted by a grand jury in Houston, Texas. In January 2015, a Harris County, Texas, grand jury indicted Daleiden on a felony charge of “Tampering with a Governmental Record” and a misdemeanor charge of “illegally offer[ing] to purchase human organs.” Although the misdemeanor charge was dismissed on a technicality in June, Daleiden still faces the felony charge for using a “fake driver's license during his efforts to investigate Planned Parenthood.”
CEO of Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast Melaney A. Linton told Mother Jones that as the indictment process has progressed, “It's become totally clear that the only people who engaged in wrongdoing are the criminals behind this fraud, and we will allow the court to hold them accountable.”
One year later, CMP’s deceptively edited videos have been repeatedly discredited while multiple state investigations have cleared Planned Parenthood of wrongdoing. During this time CMP has earned the title of Media Matters’ 2015 Misinformer of the Year, been indicted for fraud by a grand jury in Houston, TX, been subject to lawsuits, and had its work soundly rejected by multiple judges and journalists alike.
After a year CMP still has little to show in the way of evidence to substantiate their claims, while Planned Parenthood has emerged even stronger. In a statement to the Huffington Post, Planned Parenthood executive vice president Dawn Laguens explained that, despite the difficulties of the past year, the reproductive health organization remained confident about the future. She said, “We’re stronger today than we were a year ago … The extreme anti-abortion activists behind the videos are on a mission to ban abortion in this county -- they failed.”
Fox’s Response Serves As A PSA In How NOT To Cover Sexual Harassment Stories
After Gretchen Carlson filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Fox CEO Roger Ailes, Fox News personalities have rushed to defend Ailes while disparaging Carlson’s character, dismissing her allegations, and accusing her of having ulterior motives. Their response mirrors the false tropes the network hosts push in their sexual assault coverage.
On July 6, former Fox News host Carlson filed a lawsuit against Fox CEO Roger Ailes, alleging that he fired her “after she rebuffed Mr. Ailes’ sexual advances and also tried to challenge what she felt was unequal treatment of her in the newsroom by some of her male colleagues.” Carlson also alleged that while she was a host of Fox & Friends, her co-host Steve Doocy “engaged in a pattern of severe and pervasive mistreatment” of Carlson. Carlson has been a witness to years of sexism from her male colleagues, plenty of it directed at her.
Numerous Fox figures have rallied to Ailes’ defense, falling back on the network’s long-held strategy of dismissing sexual harassment – and even sexual assault – allegations by blaming the victims, trying to discredit the allegations by disparaging the victims’ characters, and rushing to defend the character of the accused. Just as New York magazine’s Gabriel Sherman predicted, the “Fox News PR machine” is fighting the sexual harassment allegations by “try[ing] to discredit Carlson’s claims and any of the other women’s claims who come forward.”
After Carlson filed her lawsuit, her former Fox colleagues defended Ailes by immediately disparaging her character, dismissing her allegations, and suggesting she may have had ulterior motives.
Greta Van Susteren suggested Carlson may have falsely accused Ailes of sexual harassment because she was “unhappy that her contract wasn’t renewed.”
In a flurry of tweets on July 12, Sean Hannity dismissed Carlson’s allegations, suggesting that if she had really been harassed, she would not have stayed, asked for more airtime, or written to Ailes:
Why did she ask for more "airtime"
After the alleged incident?? https://t.co/smFpp5Av9W
— Sean Hannity (@seanhannity) July 13, 2016
Why did GC send handwritten notes with smiley faces asking for more airtime after the "alleged" traumatic incident? https://t.co/Xg8dheo2gz
— Sean Hannity (@seanhannity) July 13, 2016
So why did u stay after such "harassment" asking for more airtime? If u had a new contract would u sue? I doubt it. https://t.co/7fDZtCBwvl
— Sean Hannity (@seanhannity) July 13, 2016
Brit Hume asked Carlson why she didn’t just quit following the alleged harassment:
Here's another suggestion. Why didn't she quit & sue instead of suing only after she got fired? https://t.co/8GPKprxxsT
— Brit Hume (@brithume) July 7, 2016
This behavior isn’t new for Fox figures. In the past, Andrea Tantaros has asked, “At what point do women need to take some responsibility” for sexual harassment. Hannity blamed a victim of sexual harassment for “staying in the car” with the accused offender after the alleged harassment. Greg Gutfeld claimed that victims allege sexual harassment “to safeguard future reputation-damaging things.”
The network’s victim-blaming isn’t limited to sexual harassment. Hosts have blamed victims of sexual assault for “wearing a miniskirt,” characterized victims as “bad girls … who like to be naughty,” and altogether disputed the prevalence of sexual assault.
Fox figures also responded to Carlson’s lawsuit by touting Ailes’ character.
Kimberly Guilfoyle claimed that of the women she’s talked to at Fox, “Nobody believed” Carlson’s allegations, adding that Ailes “is a man who champions women.”
Bret Baier said that’s “not the Roger I know,” and added, “I can’t say enough good things about Roger.”
Neil Cavuto called Carlson’s allegations “sick” and said they “don’t remotely resemble the Roger that I know” because Ailes “is ALL professional.”
Ainsley Earhardt, Martha MacCallum, and Harris Faulkner have also vigorously defended Ailes, calling him a “father figure” and a “terrific boss.”
By focusing on defending the character of the accused, reporters treat the accused offender as the victim. And it’s not just Ailes. Fox has a history of treating accused offenders as victims, including by claiming that the focus on campus sexual assault amounts to “a war happening on boys” and dubiously hyping the frequency of false accusations of sexual assault against men, even though false accusations are rare.
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During his July 7 testimony on Capitol Hill, FBI Director James Comey dismantled several right-wing media myths about Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while she served as secretary of state. In his testimony about the FBI’s recommendation against pursuing criminal charges, Comey debunked flawed comparisons and corrected faulty definitions that right-wing media have repeatedly pushed.
“He’s A Disgusting Pig Who’s Been Getting Away With This Shit For 20 Years”
The Daily Beast highlighted allegations from several former Fox employees who described experiences of sexual harassment by Fox News CEO Roger Ailes in light of a recent lawsuit by former Fox host Gretchen Carlson.
On July 6, Carlson, former host of Fox News’ The Real Story with Gretchen Carlson, filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Ailes, alleging that he had retaliated against her for refusing to have “a sexual relationship with him” by “ostracizing, marginalizing, and shunning her,” and ultimately “terminating her employment.” CNN reported that 10 other women have contacted Carlson’s lawyer “because they say they also have stories to share about treatment by Roger Ailes.”
A July 7 article in The Daily Beast reported that “several women who formerly worked at [Fox] told The Daily Beast of similar encounters with” Ailes. The five women spoke “on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation by Ailes and Fox News”:
[Gretchen Carlson’s attorney Nancy Erika] Smith, for her part, said Carlson’s lawsuit has opened the floodgates of female ex-Fox News employees who say that Ailes harassed them as well.
Speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation by Ailes and Fox News, several women who formerly worked at the network told The Daily Beast of similar encounters with the defendant.
“One time he asked me if I was wearing underwear, and was he going to see anything ‘good,’” said a former Fox News employee, who said she has spoken with other women at the network who said they were targets of Ailes’ sexually charged remarks. “It’s happened to me and lots of other women… He’s a disgusting pig who’s been getting away with this shit for 20 years.”
A second ex-employee, who also said Ailes verbally harassed her with inappropriate comments during one-on-one meetings, said the powerful and famously combative executive has so far escaped the consequences of his alleged behavior, because “when it comes to this issue, there’s already a conspiracy of silence. The problem is you don’t want to come forward because you don’t want to be personally and professionally destroyed. You don’t want to bring down Roger Ailes’s wrath on your head.”
A third former Fox News employee told The Daily Beast: “When I met Ailes he wouldn’t stop staring at my legs, and at one point he asked if I was single. I was taken aback and said yes. And he was like, ‘Oh, OK, so you’re not gonna get pregnant any time soon.’ And then he asked my age.
“And I think he could tell I was offended by the questions. And he said, ‘I know I’m not supposed to ask this—HR keeps telling me I can’t ask that because you can sue me because it’s illegal, but I don’t care. I’m [over 70] years old, if you wanna sue me, sue me.’”
Still, interviews on Wednesday with former Fox News employees suggested that Ailes has presided over a corporate culture that values and even demands female pulchritude—or at least Ailes’s blonde ideal of same—over other professional qualities. According to a former staffer, executive assistant-turned-Fox News vice president of programming Suzanne Scott enforces with the wardrobe and makeup departments an aesthetic that features skimpy dresses, high-heeled open-toed shoes, and big hair for the channel’s on-air women.
“A lot of the stuff in her [Carlson’s] suit rings very true to me,” said this person, who worked for almost a decade at the network and, like other Fox insiders quoted in this story, spoke on the condition of anonymity. “The stuff about showing of the legs—that was not even a secret—that was open company policy.
Meanwhile, a fifth former Fox News employee told The Daily Beast that Carlson’s allegations seem credible because Ailes runs Fox News “like his personal fiefdom” and has fostered a culture that is not only sexist but menacing, something akin to a sexual North Korea.
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Hours after news broke that former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson had filed a "sexual harassment/retaliation" lawsuit against Fox News CEO Roger Ailes, presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump appeared by phone for a rare interview on Carlson’s former show, The Real Story with Gretchen Carlson.
Trump appeared on The Real Story only twice from May 1, 2015, through May 3, 2016, for a total of 19 minutes and 13 seconds, according to a Media Matters analysis. By contrast, during the same period Trump spent more than eight hours on Fox & Friends and more than 17 hours on Hannity.
The complaint filed earlier today by Carlson’s lawyers alleged that Ailes “retaliated against Carlson in various ways,” including “ostracizing, marginalizing, and shunning her,” as well as “terminating her employment,” because she would not have a “sexual relationship with him.” Carlson’s contract with Fox News was terminated on June 23, according to the complaint.
An hour before the news of Carlson’s complaint broke, Fox’s Kimberly Guilfoyle tweeted that she would be hosting the program, which would feature “special guest” Trump. As ThinkProgress’ Judd Legum noted, such a daytime Fox appearance is unusual for Trump, suggesting “an effort to spike ratings post-Carlson.”
Unusual for Trump to appear at 2. He usually does AM or primetime. Could be an effort to spike ratings post-Carlson. https://t.co/SQ8jC8DVRF
— Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) July 6, 2016
Ailes has a reported pattern of misogyny and sexism that mirrors his network’s sexist coverage.