The right-wingnuts on Fox News have been lamenting the decline of American values and calling for a return to the Constitution ever since Barack Obama was inaugurated. When challenged as to what Constitutional rights have been lost, the Fox whiners have been completely unable to cite any examples.
Today we learned the reason for their difficulty in documenting their complaints. They are using a different Constitution than the rest of the American people. In a segment discussing whether Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan should recuse herself from the health care case the Court recently agreed to hear, Fox’s national correspondent, Steve Centanni, had this to say:
“If she were closely involved with the health care bill, she would legally be required to recuse herself from the case. According to the Constitution a justice must recuse even if he or she quote, ‘…expressed an opinion concerning the merits of the particular case in controversy.’ That’s from Article 28 of the Constitution.”
Centanni’s remarks were accompanied by an on-screen graphic that displayed the quote and included the source: “U.S. Constitution, Article 28, Sec. 144.” Well, as Media Matters points out, there are…
“Three glaring problems with this argument: The Constitution has no Article 28, has no Section 144, and does not contain the language quoted.”
Apparently, Centanni’s quote actually comes from a congressional statute: U.S. Code, Title 28, Section 455, Sub-section 3. But legal experts have debunked any interpretation of that that would require Kagan’s recusal.
However, the same statute appears to require the recusal of Justice Clarance Thomas. Sub-section 4 states that a justice must disqualify himself if…
“(4) He knows that he, individually or as a fiduciary, or his spouse or minor child residing in his household, has a financial interest in the subject matter in controversy or in a party to the proceeding, or any other interest that could be substantially affected by the outcome of the proceeding;”
Thomas’ wife, Ginni, is the head of a Tea Party organization, Liberty Central, that is actively engaged in efforts to repeal the health care bill. She takes a salary and accepts donations from major contributors that are legally protected from disclosure. She is also the head of Liberty Consulting, a for-profit lobbying services firm. Clearly she has a financial interest that could be substantially affected by the outcome of the proceeding and, therefore, so does Justice Thomas.
The realization that Fox News is using a Constitution that is markedly different from the one the rest of know and love, explains how their audience has become so delusional with regard to Constitutional issues. Fox News notoriously misinforms their viewers and their ignorance is documented in studies and polls. This is just the latest embarrassing deception that Fox has loosed on its glassy-eyed congregation. And these errors persist despite an edict from Fox executives that they were implementing a “Zero Tolerance” policy for such mistakes:
“Mistakes by any member of the show team that end up on air may result in immediate disciplinary action against those who played significant roles in the ‘mistake chain,’ and those who supervise them. That may include warning letters to personnel files, suspensions, and other possible actions up to and including termination.”
So will heads be rolling at Fox News? Don’t count on it. Fox doesn’t regard these incidents as mistakes. In fact, they are an integral part of their mandate. A mistake would be if they inadvertently allowed something truthful to get on the air. That would be cause for termination at Fox.