[This article was previously published on Alternet and contains a few excerpts from my new eBook, Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Community’s Assault On Truth. The book contains more than fifty additional examples of Fox’s dishonesty.]
When Fox News debuted sixteen years ago, it was crafted from scratch to be a partisan outlet for right-wing propaganda and a platform for advancing a conservative agenda. Its founder, Rupert Murdoch, was already an internationally known purveyor of right-slanted newspapers and broadcasters. Complimenting Fox’s television presence is its Internet community web site, Fox Nation. The statement of purpose posted on the Fox Nation web site says that it is “committed to the core principles of tolerance, open debate, civil discourse, and fair and balanced coverage of the news.” However, a cursory glance at the site reveals that they have fallen wide of their stated purpose by several light years.
Fox Nation is layered thickly with far-right extremist diatribes and links to disreputable articles plucked from the Internet’s fringes. And the notion that civil discourse can take place on Fox Nation is quickly dispelled by reading their user forums with their frequent use of the “N” word and juvenile references to the President as “Odumbo” and the First Lady as “Moo-chelle.” These sorts of comments are not anomalies. Fox Nation is deliberately catering to this caliber of audience who revel in overt racist and hostile dialogue. This is not the conventional, freewheeling online chatter that is found on comment boards and is particularly unusual for a site sponsored by a major national news network.
Not much is known about the operations of Fox Nation. Unlike other news enterprises that identify their principle staff, Fox Nation treats their publishers, editors, etc., as if they were covert agents of espionage. There is no masthead or bylines or any other indication of who is responsible for the repugnant content posted daily on the web page. Requests for this information from Fox corporate communications officers went unanswered. And given the dishonesty, unprofessionalism, ignorance, and immaturity of the tone and substance on the site, perhaps it is their intention to remain anonymous in order to avoid the shame that would come with an association to such puerile trash.
Fox CEO Rupert Murdoch was a harsh critic of Google News, calling them “parasites,” because he said they steal his content by posting headlines and short blurbs and linking to the source articles. But that’s pretty hypocritical because it’s exactly what Fox Nation does. There is almost no original content, and what they harvest from other sources is often planted on affiliated sites like those of Fox News contributors Tucker Carlson, Michele Malkin, and Dick Morris.
What follows are ten excerpts from my ebook, Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Community’s Assault On Truth. The book chronicles more than fifty flagrantly dishonest reports by the Fox Nationalist team of faux journalists. These are not mere differences of opinion or discussions that might have varying degrees of perspective. They are obvious, provable, outright lies, and they are manifestations of a disconnect with the real world.
1) Human Carbon Emissions Could Put OFF a Lethal New Ice Age
According to the Fox Nationalists, the perpetrators of Global Warming are actually rescuing the planet from a frigid doom. They quote Cambridge University research published in the journal Nature Geoscience. The only problem with their conclusion is that the scientist they reference in the article, Luke Skinner, has a completely different conclusion. He says that he anticipated this response amongst climate crisis deniers and said that they are…
“…missing the point, because where we’re going is not maintaining our currently warm climate but heating it much further, and adding CO2 to a warm climate is very different from adding it to a cold climate.
“The rate of change with CO2 is basically unprecedented, and there are huge consequences if we can’t cope with that.”
Skinner told the BBC that the results of the study point to the sensitivity of the climate system to “quite small changes in CO2, let alone the huge changes that we’ve been responsible for over the last 200 years.” Of course, none of that is included in the Fox Nation article. They deliberately neglect the obvious point that by the time the presumed ice age begins, in 1,500 years, global warming, if unchecked, would have already put half the planet’s current land mass under water. But these facts do not sway Fox from cherry-picking out-of-context soundbites to mislead their audience.
2) College Mate: Obama Was An Ardent Marxist-Leninist
In this episode Fox Nation posted as their featured headline story an article with the title: College Mate: Obama Was an ‘Ardent’ ‘Marxist-Leninist.’ In order to fabricate this wholly dishonest smear, Fox sunk to re-posting a column written by conservative bomb-thrower Selwyn Duke. Duke’s article was originally published by The New American, the periodical of the extremist and notoriously fascistic John Birch Society.
In the article, Duke relied entirely on the testimony of John Drew, a man who has been pushing his dubious and uncorroborated account of a college relationship with Obama for years. He claims that Obama was a close friend and confidant. The truth is he only met Obama casually a handful of times at gatherings with many others present. He never attended college with Obama because the future President didn’t enter Occidental College until after Drew had graduated.
It’s painfully clear to anyone paying attention that Drew is attempting to exploit his brief encounters with Obama to exalt himself, disseminate his rightist propaganda, and earn a few bucks in the process. Now, after years of plodding through radical right-wing rags and Internet backwater rabble, Drew and Duke have succeeded in getting Fox Nation to sling their stale mud.
3) Obama Selling Amnesty For $465
The issue of immigration is one that the Fox Nationalists relish in demagoguing. They publish numerous stories that are openly racist, as has been thoroughly documented. This is just such a story that was designed to inflame prejudice with its utterly dishonest skewing of the facts. The headline composed by Fox Nation is wholly untrue. Not only is amnesty not a part of the administration’s program, nothing in it is for sale.
In truth, President Obama directed the Department of Homeland Security to exercise prosecutorial discretion so that innocent children who were brought to this country by undocumented parents are not unduly punished while a more comprehensive solution is negotiated with Congress. The program does not provide amnesty. The fee to apply for this program is intended to offset costs, but can be waived on a case by case basis for applicants unable to pay.
None of those facts stopped Fox from deliberately misrepresenting the matter in a way that leads their audience to presume that the administration is peddling citizenship to foreigners who come here to steal our jobs. It appears that Fox picked up the story from the juveniles at Breitbart News where John Nolte published an article that implied that Obama’s goal is to mint new voters. Never mind that the immigrants partaking of this program will not have voting rights because they will not be citizens.
4) Americans Not Buying Buffett Rule
The Buffett Rule that Americans are not buying refers to his remarks that wealthy folks like him should not be paying lower tax rates than average folks like his secretary. So all that the Fox Nationalists had to do to validate their headline was produce the results of a poll that shows that a majority of respondents do not believe that raising taxes on millionaires will do any good. And since, in this case, they are relying on the results of a poll conducted by Fox News, they should be able to support whatever preconceived myth they want to invent.
However, the very first paragraph of their own story states that “more voters think raising taxes on wealthy Americans will help (40 percent) rather than hurt the economy (24 percent).” And the margin of difference (16%) isn’t even close. Yet somehow the headline atop the article overtly refutes the facts in their own survey. Are these people even trying anymore? They must really think their readers are idiots. And since they must know their audience better than anyone else, I will defer to their assessment.
5) NBC News Hires Anchor Who Pledged to Not Criticize Obama About Anything
In this episode of Fox Nation’s departure from reality, the Fox Nationalists jumped on remarks by Al Sharpton suggesting that he intends to refrain from ever criticizing President Obama. But that isn’t what he said.
Sharpton: “What I don’t want to see is because he is black we act like he’s not the real president – he ought to be leading the black cause or the labor cause. He’s the President. To minimize who he is, I think, is an insult to the achievement of having him there.”
So this was not about Sharpton never criticizing Obama, just not constraining Obama to being merely the president of black Americans as opposed to all Americans. Fox, on the other hand, should acknowledge that their whole business model rests on not criticizing Republicans and conservatives. In a specific example you have Dick Morris, who has been on the Fox payroll for years, and pledged never to criticize Mitt Romney:
“I decided a couple of – a month or two ago to stop dumping on Mitt Romney, for example … Not because I approve of Romneycare, not because I approve of his flip-flops, flip on abortion, but because I may have to be one of those who carries this guy for a couple of months when he’s running against Obama and I don’t want to make my own task harder.”
Morris fulfilled that promise by becoming one of Romney’s most ardent cheerleaders. Just days before Obama won with a commanding Electoral College victory, Morris told Fox News that a Romney landslide was a virtual certainty.
6) Elizabeth Warren Praises Communist China
In response to an ad by Massachusetts senate candidate Elizabeth Warren, the Fox Nationalists have not only lied, but exposed their latent unpatriotic tendencies as well. To state bluntly that “Elizabeth Warren Praises Communist China” is a thoroughly manufactured falsehood. She never did anything remotely of the kind. What she did was advocate for the importance of America remaining competitive on an international basis and not permit China to take the lead. Here is what she said:
“We’ve got bridges and roads in need of repair, and thousands of people in need of work. Why aren’t we rebuilding America? Our competitors are putting people to work, building the future. China invests 9 percent of its GDP in infrastructure. America, we’re at just 2.4 percent. We can do better. We can build a foundation for a strong new economy and get people in Massachusetts to work right now.”
The Fox Nationalists have a decidedly shallow grasp of world affairs. They think that lamenting America falling behind on matters critical to international competitiveness is the same as praising a political system of government. Were these same conservatives outraged when Reagan, and other cold warriors, argued that the U.S. was falling behind the Soviet Union militarily and, therefore, they were praising Russia’s communism?
For Fox News, and its conservative benefactors, to criticize Warren for these comments is akin to advocating for America to succumb to foreign competitors. In effect, it’s conservatives who are acceding to China’s superiority – not the other way around.
7) Stocks Tumble Worldwide After Obama Speech
The implication of this headline is that Obama’s speech had something to do with a stock market decline. However, the very first paragraph of the Bloomberg News article Fox cites specifically states that the decline is due to…
“…escalating concern about Greece’s debt crisis and speculation congress won’t pass President Obama’s plan to boost the economy.“
In other words, the markets favor Obama’s plan and want it to be implemented. So a more honest headline would have read “Stocks Tumble Worldwide Due To Republican Obstructionism.” But then again, if you’re looking for a more honest headline then you probably wouldn’t be reading Fox Nation in the first place.
8) Guess Who Tried To Break Into Southwest Cockpit?
Notice that in this headline the Fox Nationalists explicitly describes Ali Reza Shahsavari as trying to break into the cockpit of a Southwest Airlines plane. But anyone who read a little further down would have seen that the article unambiguously contradicts the headline saying “Initially, authorities said the man had tried to break into the cockpit but Amarillo Aviation Director Patrick Rhodes later said that he was ‘not trying to break into the cockpit, but was unruly and had confronted the cabin crew.'”
The headline was wholly the creation of Fox News. The story itself was sourced to the Associated Press, whose article got the headline right: “Southwest flight makes emergency landing in Texas.” So what we have here is Fox deliberately falsifying the headline in order to make a derogatory insinuation about a man of Iranian descent who just happens to be an American citizen born in Mississippi. The article states that there is no indication of terrorism and additional reporting describe the incident as an episode of mental illness triggered by an argument with another passenger. The only conclusion is that Fox saw a brown man with Middle-Eastern features and decided to invent an international terrorism incident where none existed by appending a provocative question to the story that contradicted the article’s content.
9) Man Linked to ‘Occupy’ Protest Charged With Attempted Assassination of Obama
The Fox News Channel ran a story with this same deceptive theme. They hosted Michelle Malkin to engage in a discussion that was deliberately designed to smear the Occupiers. During the segment they displayed a picture of the suspect, Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez, with a caption that said: “‘Occupy’ Shooter.” There was no question mark or other qualifying notation to indicate that this was merely speculation on the part of Fox News.
For the record, the only link between this guy and the Occupy movement is the one invented by Fox. The Washington police have stated unequivocally that they have no evidence that he was affiliated in any way with the protesters. Reports that he may have tried to hide in the crowds at the Occupy DC site should not surprise anyone. Any densely populated location would attract somebody trying to elude law enforcement. A football game or an Alzheimer’s Walkathon would serve the same purpose.
What little is known about Ortega-Hernandez would likely lead objective analysts to suspect him of being a Teabagger. He is said to be anti-government, hates President Obama, and has a history of mental illness. That’s a profile that would fit perfectly for say … Glenn Beck.
10) Poll: Majority Blame Obama For Bad Economy
There have been numerous polls asking respondents to say who they hold responsible for the state of the American economy. In every one of them George W. Bush ranks at or near the top, with Congress and Wall Street following close behind. Usually President Obama is not the target of most of the blame.
Leave it to Fox News to come up with a poll that contradicts the others. And it should come as no surprise that the poll they’ve latched onto is the work of Rasmussen’s Pulse Opinion Research. However, even with a fixed pollster, and a rabidly partisan news outlet, Fox still finds it necessary to outright lie about the poll’s results.
In Rasmussen’s poll 34% said that Obama is the most to blame for the slow economic recovery. Most elementary school graduates know that that is not a majority. What’s more, if you add the responses of those who said that it was either Congress, Wall Street, or George W. Bush, it comes to a clear majority of 61% saying that Obama is not to blame. The Fox Nationalists must take great comfort in the knowledge that their audience is too incurious to actually look into anything themselves.
“The public’s opinion of the Tea Party movement has soured in the wake of the debt-ceiling debate. The Tea Party is now viewed unfavorably by 40 percent of the public and favorably by just 20 percent, according to the poll.
“The president’s overall job approval rating remained relatively stable, with 48 percent approving of the way he handles his job as president and 47 percent disapproving.”
To repeat, 48% approve of Obama while only 20% approve of the Tea Party. That means Obama’s approval is more than twice that of the Tea Party. What’s more, Obama is viewed favorably by slightly more people than view him unfavorably. The Tea Party is viewed unfavorably by twice as many people as view it favorably.
The only way to spin this poll positively for the Tea Party is to deliberately misconstrue the data by taking into account only the unfavorable numbers as if they existed in a vacuum. Leave it to Fox to lie to their audience and produce a community characterized by ignorance and wishful thinking.
These are just a few examples of the veracity-challenged deceptions that appear everyday on Fox Nation. In the ebook, Fox Nation vs. Reality, there are dozens more examples of the documented, deliberate dishonesty that is the hallmark of Fox News. It’s a handy reference for rebutting those crazy uncles who keep sending you conspiracy theory chain letters and berating you for having missed Hannity last night.
Fox Nation is an integral part of the Fox News family and a critical component of their mission to deceive the general public and reinforce the partisan tunnel-blindness of their glassy-eyed disciples. This makes it all the more necessary to shine a light on their cynical mauling of truthfulness in media. Mark Twain said that “Reality can be beaten with enough imagination.” And the fabulists at Fox have imagination in abundance as evidenced by all the tales they make up on their web site. So the more they seek to deceive, the more the rest of us need to be prepared to rebut and confront them. As difficult as that task may seem, we can take heart in Stephen Colbert’s observation that “Reality has a well known liberal bias.” Which explains why it is so at odds with what Fox represents.