Fox’s Brit Hume: Obamacare’s “coverage for pre-existing conditions…basically defeats the whole idea of insurance”
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Fox has a history of shaming low-income Americans
In defense of the Senate Republican health care bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act, Fox News is shaming the bill’s beneficiaries, claiming it helps “people who didn’t need it,” people who Fox claims get “handouts” and “goodies.” Fox News has a history of shaming recipients of public assistance, such as subsidized health insurance and nutritional assistance programs.
Legal experts and Trump’s attorney general agree it would be “improper and illegal”
Conservative media figures have repeatedly downplayed possible collusion between associates of President Donald Trump and the Russian government, suggesting that “it’s not a crime” to collude with a foreign government to influence U.S. elections. Legal experts and Trump’s own attorney general, however, agree that such collusion would be “improper and illegal.”
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After The Washington Post reported President Donald Trump “revealed highly classified information” to the Russian foreign minister and Russian ambassador, Fox News hosts and pundits immediately went into damage control for the White House.
Election officials in states across the nation have found no evidence of widespread voter fraud during the 2016 election, contradicting claims from President Donald Trump and right-wing media that voter fraud is rampant in elections.
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Following demonstrably false statements made by President Trump and White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer that Trump's inauguration ceremony had “the largest audience to witness an inauguration," pro-Trump propaganda outlets amplified the lies while more mainstream conservative figures provided cover for the lies by casting doubt on available evidence.
In 2016, right-wing media’s use of racially charged and bigoted statements hit new lows, featuring widely condemned segments reliant on racial caricatures, bigoted attempts to blame progressives for the actions of white nationalists, and slurs directed against other media figures. Here are the most bigoted stories and statements from right-wing media figures over the last year:
As sexual assault allegations against President-elect Donald Trump piled up in the months before the election, CNN and Fox News each relied on paid Trump surrogates and media allies to peddle some of the worst sexual assault apologism of the past year.
After uncovered 2005 audio showed Trump bragging about sexual assault, a number of women came forward with specific allegations against the then-candidate. In CNN and Fox’s coverage of Trump’s despicable comments, his media allies downplayed the severity of sexual assault and attacked the credibility of those who spoke out, while both networks initially characterized the comments as merely “vulgar” or “lewd.” When women came forward with specific accounts of being sexually assaulted or harassed by Trump, CNN and Fox gave ample airtime to paid surrogates and media allies who minimized and made excuses for Trump’s actions.
Sexual violence has no place in our society, let alone on cable news networks. So why did CNN and Fox spend the end of 2016 subsidizing media personalities to deny allegations and engage in pure sexual assault apologism?
As Media Matters previously noted, CNN’s decision to hire and pay a number of professional Trump surrogates made the network a consistent platform for the campaign to trivialize the severity of sexual assault. CNN’s Trump surrogates -- Corey Lewandowski, Jeffrey Lord, Kayleigh McEnany, and Scottie Nell Hughes -- systematically dismissed Trump’s comments,calling them a “distraction” and framing them as normal “locker room” talk.
For example, Trump’s former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, flippantly claimed that “nobody cares” that the nominee of a major political party was caught on tape bragging about sexual assault. Scottie Nell Hughes similarly argued that Trump’s deplorable comments were unimportant because “no woman woke up affected by these words” -- ignoring the sheer number of social and political risks survivors face when reporting sexual assault and harassment.
Once women began to make their allegations public, CNN’s Trump surrogates focused their attention on normalizing sexual assault and attacking the credibility of the alleged survivors. Lewandowski questioned the timing and veracity of the reports, before deflecting questions by invoking discredited attacks on Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s work as a court-appointed defense attorney in the 1970s. When asked by CNN’s Anderson Cooper about the connections between the 2005 recording and specific allegations against Trump, paid apologist Kayleigh McEnany called the claims baseless and blamed Trump’s accusers because they “let him do X, Y, or Z. That implies consent.”
Fox fared no better in its coverage of Trump’s unacceptable comments. In addition to similarly dismissing Trump’s statements as “locker room talk,” “frat house language,” and “guy talk,” Fox employees also joined the effort to undermine the credibility of Trump’s accusers.
On the October 13 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends, Trump surrogate Ben Carson (now nominated to be a member of his cabinet) accused the “biased” press of manipulating the public by creating incentives for people to “come out and say something” in order to garner “fame.” Carson added, “What a bunch of crap.”
Fox’s Brian Kilmeade argued that “none of them are vetted” -- referring to the accusers -- and it was entirely possible that “they all could be lying.” Others questioned the timing of the myriad allegations against the Republican nominee, calling them “a little coordinated… a little too convenient,” and claiming that the proximity to the election meant “it’s fair to question why is this coming out now.” In reality, multiple media sources have corroborated most of the claims brought forth by Trump’s accusers.
In some cases, Fox personnel openly attacked individual women for speaking out, as seen in senior political analyst Brit Hume’s tirade against Jessica Drake -- a Trump accuser who directs and performs in adult films. Hume responded to Drake’s allegations that Trump had “grabbed” and hugged and “kissed” her “without asking permission” with a series of tweets suggesting she could not be offended because of her profession.
Sexual assault is a serious issue. The National Sexual Violence Resource Center reports that “one in five women and one in 71 men will be raped at some point in their lives,” while the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey found that “nearly half”of its survey respondents (47 percent) “were sexually assaulted at some point in their lifetime.”
Despite widespread fearmongering from right-wing media that false rape reports are common, these incidents are actually a statistical minority -- representing between 2 and 8 percent of all reported cases. Meanwhile, according to research by the Rape, Abuse & Incest Network (RAINN), 67 percent of rapes go unreported to law enforcement.
Reporting on rape and sexual assault has long been a challenge for journalists, regardless of who is involved. When the accused occupies a position of prominence, journalists and networks must refuse to let threats of lost access or demands for false balance sanitize their reporting. In May 2016 -- before the Trump allegations -- Woody Allen’s son Ronan Farrow published an article blasting the media for cultivating a “culture of impunity and silence” around reporting on sexual assault allegations. As Farrow explained, although it’s not the media’s job “to carry water” for those making accusations against powerful men, the media do have an “obligation to include the facts, and to take them seriously.”
On each of these charges, CNN and Fox clearly failed -- enabling some of the worst sexual assault apologism of 2016.
*Image provided by Sarah Wasko
Fox News anchor Bret Baier’s seemingly bombshell reporting about the Clinton Foundation and a "likely" indictment regarding Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server, which was based on two unknown sources, collapsed within days when the anchor admitted he’d made a “mistake.”
By the time Baier walked back his comments, his claims had already been parroted by Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, Fox hosts and correspondents, right-wing blogs, and some mainstream outlets like The Hill.
While Donald Trump’s own campaign manager Kellyanne Conway admitted that the story was wrong, she celebrated that “voters are hearing it” and "the damage is done." Therein lies the massive problem.
Baier made more than a "mistake." And if you need more evidence that Baier's Friday apology wasn't enough, look no further than Fox & Friends Saturday, where discredited conservative journalist Ed Klein touted dubious reporting to suggest that Clinton will likely face an indictment if she’s elected president. What’s more, Fox News senior political analyst Brit Hume tweeted on Saturday morning that “Fox News stands by Bret Baier's key finding: that the FBI [investigation] of the Clinton [Foundation] is open & active.”
Following the backlash from Bret Baier’s false smear about an impending Clinton indictment, and the doubling down from Fox News, I’m urging Fox News to take these additional steps to correct this miscoverage as soon as possible:
2) Fox News should devote the same amount of time to running Baier’s apology as it did to his faulty reporting. The network spent more than two hours of coverage and devoted at least 41 segments over a 24-hour period to Baier’s faulty reporting. This amounts to nearly 12 percent of the network’s total live airtime.
3) Fox News should re-air its correction on Baier’s show, Special Report, and on The O’Reilly Factor, the network’s most watched show. Baier has yet to apologize on his own show. After years of convincing its viewers that all other news outlets are biased, there stands the very real possibility that the only place Fox viewers are likely to see Baier's apology is if it airs on Fox News. If the network will not devote equal time to the correction as it gave to Baier’s faulty reporting, then it should ensure the correction is seen by as many viewers as possible.
To ensure that the above happens, Media Matters for America will be running a media awareness campaign online to make Fox viewers aware of Bret Baier’s serious reporting transgressions.
Several Fox News hosts have recently been critical of early voting, a process that is especially important to voters of color who face systemic barriers to voting on Election Day. Fox hosts baselessly claimed that voters who already took advantage of early voting now want to change their votes and suggested voters “don’t know all of the information” prior to voting, which raises questions about “the wisdom of early voting.” Right-wing media figures’ contempt for early voting is not new.
Fox News figures are hyping unverified stories of electronic voting machines allegedly switching voters’ votes for president amid cries from Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump of “large scale voter fraud.” In fact, “just about every voting technology expert” says voting machines are not rigged to flip votes, and instead “human error” and aging machines often lead to incorrect vote choices, which can be fixed. Conservatives hyped alleged vote flipping during the 2012 election as well.