The Willis Report | Media Matters for America

The Willis Report

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  • Fox Forwards Claim That Government Seeks "Retribution" In S&P Lawsuit


    Multiple Fox News personalities have suggested the Justice Department's lawsuit against Standard & Poor's is 'political retribution,' either papering over or outright ignoring the facts behind the suit. However, the S&P investigation began well before U.S. credit was downgraded, and a raft of internal emails suggest the company may have knowingly inflated securities ratings.

  • Myths And Facts About Solar Energy

    ››› ››› SHAUNA THEEL

    Conservative media have denigrated solar energy by denying its sustainability, ignoring its successes, and arguing the U.S. should simply cede the solar market to China. Yet this booming industry has made great strides, and with the right policies can become a major source of our power.

  • Media Coverage Of Debt Ceiling Continues To Propagate Erroneous "Blank Check" Analogy

    ››› ››› ALAN PYKE

    Media coverage of the debt ceiling frequently claims that raising the limit without simultaneous spending cuts would give President Obama a "blank check," repeating a pattern of promoting this false narrative -- or failing to correct it -- that occurred during the unprecedented brinkmanship of 2011. The phrase implies that the debt ceiling governs additional spending desired by the White House, when in fact it is a restriction on the executive branch's ability to borrow money to pay for spending measures already enacted by Congress.

  • Tax Rates And The "Small Business" Zombie Lie


    Conservative media figures have long insisted that top marginal income tax rates effectively target small businesses. This "zombie lie" has sprung up throughout President Obama's first term as an argument against Democratic proposals to renew the Bush-era rates only for middle- and low-income Americans.  Despite continual efforts by experts to debunk this claim, media figures continue to repeat these lies in the 2012 edition of the fight over high-income tax rates.

  • Conservative Media Falsely Connect Solar Grant To Van Jones

    Blog ››› ››› JILL FITZSIMMONS

    Source: Department of EnergyConservative media are seizing on a report by The Daily Caller to baselessly suggest that Van Jones' connection to a California solar company helped the company secure a $2 million grant from the Department of Energy. But Jones is an unpaid advisor to Solar Mosaic and was not even aware of -- let alone involved in -- the grant application process, according to the company's President.

    This latest faux-controversy started when The Daily Caller reported that former Obama administration green jobs czar Van Jones serves as an advisor to Solar Mosaic, and that the company "employed Rebuild the Dream, Jones' firm, to do its public relations work." But Billy Parish, the president of Solar Mosaic, told Media Matters that Jones is "one of over a dozen unpaid advisors to the company," and that he "was not involved in the grant application in any way and didn't even know about it." And Natalie Foster, CEO of Rebuild the Dream, told Media Matters that reports that the organization was "employed" by Solar Mosaic are "not accurate at all." Foster said that while Rebuild the Dream supports companies like Solar Mosaic, "there is no formal, monetized relationship."

    And contrary to The Daily Caller's suggestion that Solar Mosaic was singled out for an especially generous grant because of its connection to Jones, many of the projects supported by the same program received more funding. Solar Mosaic was one of nine companies awarded grants by DOE's SunShot Incubator Program in its latest round of funding -- the seventh round since the program began in 2007. The Daily Caller noted that of the nine recent recipients, "Solar Mosaic received the most money," without mentioning that almost half of the 47 projects supported by the Incubator program have been awarded more than $2 million -- including 16 companies selected by the Bush administration.

  • Myths And Facts About Oil And Gasoline


    Both mainstream and conservative media outlets have responded to the recent spike in gasoline prices by circulating talking points rooted in politics rather than facts. As a whole, these claims reflect the misconception, perpetuated by the news media, that changes in U.S. energy policy are a major driver of oil and gasoline prices.

  • Economists Debunk Media Fearmongering About New EPA Rule


    After the EPA proposed regulations on greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, several conservative media outlets claimed that the new rule would increase electricity prices for consumers by prohibiting the construction of coal plants without carbon dioxide controls. But economists and other analysts say that because low natural gas prices are already suppressing coal-plant growth, the rule will not significantly affect electricity rates.

  • Conservative Media Recklessly Distort Volt Safety

    ››› ››› SHAUNA THEEL

    Conservative media have misrepresented the results of Chevy Volt crash tests, claiming the batteries "blow up" and are a "fire trap," and suggesting that fires have occurred spontaneously during use. In fact, fires only occurred after crash tests and regulators concluded an inquiry after finding that Volts are just as safe as conventional cars.

  • Whitewash: Fox Host Tries To Dismiss "Fox News Lies" Chants

    ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT

    Following a live report from New York City's Zuccotti Park in which protesters chanted "Fox News lies," Fox Business host Gerri Willis claimed that Fox is simply "trying to cover the story just like everybody else." However, Fox hosts and contributors have pushed lies, smears, and attacks about the Occupy Wall Street movement.

  • 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.

  • At What Point Does Fox Decide Palin Shows "Any Intention Of Running?"

    Blog ››› ››› KEVIN ZIEBER

    With Fox News personalities openly speculating on-air that Sarah Palin has produced a "campaign ad" and set up a candidate's schedule for September, how much longer will the network allow her to maintain her status as a Fox News contributor?

    Back in March, Fox executives suspended the contracts of contributors Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum as the two considered entering the GOP primary field. Suspending Gingrich and Santorum, while keeping Huckabee and Palin, gave way to questions of fairness at Fox.

    In an interview with Howard Kurtz, Fox's executive vice president of legal affairs, Dianne Brandi, tried to dispense with the controversy, saying the network would allow Palin to stay on because she "hasn't done anything to show us she has any intention of running."

    The ethical morass grew in June, as Fox News figures aggressively promoted Palin's brand while she tore through the northeast on a bus tour, hinting along the way that she might be running and granting friendly interviews to Fox shows.

    Now, after the former governor ripped through Iowa and cut a sleek ad that again hinted at a presidential campaign, some Fox News personalities are speculating on-air that Palin's recent moves cross the line into campaigning. Fox Business' Tracy Byrnes aired the ad and opined, "If that's not a campaign ad, I don't know what is." Fox contributor Karl Rove said that Palin's September schedule, complete with a Labor Day weekend speech in Iowa, "looks like a candidate's [schedule]."


    Byrnes and Rove certainly think Palin has shown some "intention of running." What will be cause enough for Fox's executives?

  • Fox News Objects To S&P Downgrade Inquiry By Screaming "Witch Hunt"


    Fox News personalities have expressed outrage that Congress is reportedly considering investigating Standard & Poor's (S&P) controversial decision to downgrade its U.S. credit rating. But S&P has significant credibility issues, and executives at rating agencies - including S&P - have routinely testified before Congress, including about their role in the Enron scandal and the financial crisis.