Fox Haters Week in Review!

Deck the halls with trowels of folly: it’s a Yuletide edition of Fox Haters Week in Review!

Around the Interwebs

In its never-ending struggle for cable news truth, J$P sometimes works behind the scenes. When we spotted Mediaite claiming that Fox News avoided an Olbermann flap by only covering it via an online video, we let them know that Fox News Watch had dealt with it on-air twice. When they put up a wrong video we directed them to the correct one. Recently Colby Hall wrote that Fox News ‘has been suspiciously silent’ on the issue of the 9/11 responders bill--just a few days after Peter Johnson Jr delivered this eloquent commentary. Based on the info we provided, Mr Hall revised his piece and included a link to Johnson’s segment.

We’re not just picking on Mediaite here. TV Newser claimed that cable news ‘failed to cover hurricane Earl’ overnight and that FNC and the others ‘went to replays as they normally do’; we informed them that FNC uniquely covered the storm live from 1:00 am to 3:00 am. TVN’s report was properly updated and corrected.

One we didn’t catch was courtesy of a less reputable site: Gawker. They picked up on Neil Cavuto’s criticism of Chris Matthews for picking on Chris Christie’s weight, but then dug up an old Cavuto segment about Surgeon General Regina Benjamin that discussed her weight. Presto! Cavuto caught doing just what he criticized Chris Matthews for. This attracted the attention of--who else?--Keith Olbermann, and Olby’s rip-’n’-read snark made its way to Mediaite. Frances Martel highlighted the Olby segment with this headline:

Keith Olbermann Catches Neil Cavuto Committing ‘Racism With A Scale’ On Worsts

All this might sound familiar to regular readers of J$P, because we dealt with this Surgeon General flap back when it happened. Site after site falsely claimed that Cavuto or ‘Fox News’ was calling Regina Benajmin ‘too fat’ to be Surgeon General. In fact, Neil Cavuto argued the exact opposite, and went after his guest for criticizing Benjamin’s weight:

  • If she's 50-60 pounds overweight then I'm a separate planet.
  • She'd still make a darn good Surgeon General, maybe someone with more empathy for the obesity epidemic.
  • Now how do you know anything about her lifestyle?
  • That's a blanket indictment.
  • No, no, no, I've run with that for most of my life so I don't agree with you.
  • What are you talking about?
  • I hope the day comes when you gain a few pounds and they say we think you shouldn't head this gym.

So this was not hypocrisy, or racism with a scale, by Neil Cavuto. It was precisely consistent with what he said about Chris Christie. But don’t expect Keith Olbermann to apologize or correct his smear. He’d quit Twitter before admitting one of his Fox attacks was wrong. We contacted Ms Martel at Mediaite and heard back earlier today. She is still out sick but agreed that Cavuto’s comments had not been represented fairly.

Here are a few of the headlines spawned by a recent World Public Opinion survey:

Among the Fox hater sites there has been much regurgitation but little critical analysis of this poll. One could point to the people paying the bills at WPO, but while that may raise eyebrows it’s not a substantive criticism. FNC served up a predictably snarky reply, but it didn’t really advance the debate. And there are issues that deserve attention.

The question selection itself is a concern. When you touch on 11 issues, most of them about ‘misinformation’ from the right, with only one (re the Chamber of Commerce) about ‘misinformation’ from the left , you are going to end up with many more cases of ‘right wing’ misinformation, skewing the result. Why no questions like: Were the Bush tax cuts primarily for the wealthy? Or: Does the middle class pay the majority of federal income taxes? By making most of the questions about one variety of ‘misinformation’, the study insured that more ‘misinformation’ would be found among viewers of that persuasion.

The questions, and the ‘correct’ responses assumed by the WPO, have issues. Any time you ask about what ‘most economists’ believe, you aren’t really asking for facts or data. You’re asking someone to know the result of some survey--like an episode of Family Feud. And tossing in what’s going to happen in the future, like whether the health care bill will increase the deficit, enters the realm of speculation and opinion.

Analysis of the WPO’s ‘correct answers’ to these survey questions has found many of them to be either unconvincing or factually incorrect. As David Zurawik notes, too often the WPO relies on opinions by ‘government experts’ (the Argument to Authority fallacy) to declare an answer correct or incorrect:

If this survey had been conducted when George W. Bush was president and his wall of "experts" in "government agencies" were working overtime to sell the New York Times on the belief that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, you could have been "misinformed" if you said there were no such WMD's in Iraq. M-I-S-I-N-F-O-R-M-E-D. Agency experts did, after all, say the existence of such weapons was a fact.

And there’s another fallacy at work here: Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc. Zurawik again:

Most of the fact-based questions about whether certain programs were started under Bush or Obama were, in fact, the very subject matter of political attack ads. And it would be no surprise to find that far more of those ads aired on Fox, since it is by far the highest-rated cable news channel with the biggest audience. And the channel is watched by many independents and people who are likely to actually go to the polls and vote. I read nothing in the report that addressed that possible misreading of the data -- that the "misinformation" came from the political ads viewers saw on Fox and not from Fox editorial content.

Indeed, as these ‘misinformed’ responses came in, why didn’t WPO ask the obvious follow-up: Where did you hear this? One of the survey questions focused on the Obama birth certificate issue. As we have already demonstrated, no one on FNC has ever promoted this lunatic claim. So we know for a fact that the poll includes results that have nothing whatsoever to do with ‘misinformation’ from Fox News. Clearly there is more--or perhaps less--to the WPO survey than meets the eye.

How Still We See Them Lie

It may be the Christmas season, but you’ll find precious little ‘good will toward’ men over at the newshounds. There the Niagara of vitriol continues to roar, thanks to the contributions of such giants of media criticism as ‘Priscilla’. Her anti-Christian bigotry is a matter of repellent record, and it reaches a fever pitch during seasons such as this. As she rails against Fox & Friends displaying a living nativity scene, so does her ignorance and lazy sloppiness:

What the viewers weren't told (not that it would have mattered) was that the mission of the group sponsoring this tableau is "aimed at encouraging individuals and groups to help bring back the true meaning of Christmas by staging similar Christmas displays in public spaces, including town squares, parks, at city halls, county courthouses, and state capitol buildings.”

Um no, that’s not true. They openly said that was their purpose during the interview.

In other words they are encouraging states and municipalities to engage in taxpayer funded costly lawsuits over violations of the First Amendment. Steve Doocy provided information so that viewers "can have something like that in your town." Is Fox News promoting civil disobedience?

More lies. The whole point of the segment was that they were using a method to stage such events without lawsuits, 1st Amendment issues, or civil disobedience. They simply apply for a permit and put on their display. You know, just as is done for Gay Pride Parades, Columbus Day marches and the like. They showed footage from the Living Nativity staged at the steps of the US Supreme Court. Costly lawsuits? Nope. Civil disobedience? Not at all. They had a permit.

This was all so clear from the interview that you have to wonder if Priscilla even watched it. Hmm let’s see, she posts one clip from Fox & Friends, a promo for the segment (lifted from Media Matters) that runs less than a minute. There is no video from the segment itself, and she doesn’t quote even one sentence from the interview. Could it be that Prissy didn’t watch the segment at all, but simply made up all her complaints based on a promo for the segment? That would be pretty dishonest, but probably a tad less dishonest than having seen the segment and lying about it. Either way, it’s textbook Priscilla perfidy.

Prissy’s loathing for all things Christian rears its ugly head again. Fox & Friends discussed a book about angels and the afterlife, and Priscilla unloaded:

Brian Kilmeade Promotes Book By Radical Right Christian, Glenn Beck Pal, & Angel Protected Rev. Jim Garlow...Fox "News" was, once again, promoting both Christianity and Jim Garlow - who was promoting his book....Not only is Fox "News" your source for persecuted Christian angst, it's your source for recommended Christian reading. Fox must be on the side of the angels!

A woman, whose daughter died of cancer, believes she had an angelic vision thereafter. It’s easy to see why Brian Kilmeade talking to her would affect Prissy like garlic affects a vampire. We’re sure Priscilla’s words of comfort will resonate with this grieving mother. But we’re wondering about something else. Priscilla keeps saying that Fox & Friends ‘promotes’ a book by talking to its author, and this makes FNC your ‘source for recommended Christian reading’. Funny, then, that Prissy somehow managed to completely skip over, omit, avoid any mention of this:

The Atheist Christmas Coloring Book!... This was just kind of a sweet little segment. Good on Fox & Friends for having Marazzani on and letting him say his piece. Good on Marazzani for making the book and sounding like a good, rational guy. Good on everyone for remembering that Christmas is a great time of year, whether you think of it as a time to celebrate a guy named Jesus or just a day you get to relax and be with the people you love.

What, no post from Priscilla complaining that Fox & Friends is ‘promoting’ atheism? Now why would that be? This couldn’t be another one of those lies of omission, could it? Here’s Prissy again:

As part of its mission as America's Christian Newsroom, Fox "News" seems to be quite amenable to promoting Christian books....a Christmas book titled "Little Star" which is about "the true meaning of Christmas." The beginning of the segment featured Christian Republican eminence grise and purveyor of America's shlockiest music Pat Boone reading a part of the book to little children. What more can I say!... Fox "News" seems to be directing its agitprop towards one religious demographic.

What more can you say? Wouldn’t this have been a perfect opportunity for you to say something about the atheist coloring book? Instead of hiding it from your readers while lying about ‘one religious demographic’?

The newshounds aren’t known for their Christmas spirit, having famously dismissed ‘the birth of Christ’ as so much ‘nonsense’. But Prissy wants to go the extra mile, and dismiss Christmas entirely:

Doocy repeated the canard that Christmas is a federal holiday... Bill cited the popular religious canard that Christmas is a federal holiday.

Priscilla may want to claim that it’s a ‘false, unfounded, fabricated report’ or a ‘groundless rumor’, but the feds still say Christmas is in fact a federal holiday. Too bad. Little Prissy so dearly wanted to be the Scrooge McGrinch who actually did steal Christmas.

In other news from the dog pound, a ‘guest blogger’ offers a classic newspooch ‘incorrection’, insisting that Neil Cavuto ‘misinformed’ the audience when he stated:

So the top few percent paying 40-plus percent of the taxes, that is not progressive enough for Ed Koch?

Koch argued that was the rate we should go back to, while Cavuto said no, this is what is being paid under the current Bush tax rates. So where’s the ‘misinformation’? Good question. According to IRS data, in 2008 the top 1% (that’s even less than the ‘top few percent’ referenced by Cavuto) paid 38% of the taxes, and in 2007 paid 40% of the taxes. So Cavuto was clearly correct. The ‘guest blogger’ ignorantly notes that the top tax rate is currently 35% and declares ‘Cavuto was making up stuff!’ Except that Cavuto wasn’t talking about the top tax rate; he was talking about the amount of total taxes paid by the top percent of taxpayers. In other words, another phony newshound ‘incorrection’.

And speaking of phony, let’s not overlook the hound of hounds, Ellen Brodsky. She was certainly barking up the wrong tree when she got all up in paws over Glenn Beck’s trip to Wilmington, OH. First she objected to Beck charging for events, claiming he was trying to ‘soak his fans’. Just hours later she backtracked because somehow she tumbled to the fact that the profits were all going to local charities. So then came another post, this time whining that the people of Wilmington can’t afford high prices. Apparently Brodsky thinks that the Haiti telethon was designed to solicit donations from Haiti. No Ellen, charitable events sell their tickets to people who can afford them, so the proceeds can go to the people who need them. It’s amazing that we have to explain this stuff.

Then Ellen moves to another complaint, that the people of Wilmington can’t afford to get into these pricey events. Ellen adds:

They can watch the show at the soup kitchen at Sugar Tree Ministries. Beck told his viewers today, "They've set it up and we've provided a access to the broadcast so you can watch it there." Also, a pizza place will be broadcasting live. They can also watch it on Glenn Beck's subscription-only website.

Another Brodsky lie of omission:

The live-stream viewing locations include Sugartree Ministries, 180 E. Main St., downtown Wilmington; Wilmington Church of Christ, 909 W. Locust St., Wilmington, $5; Wilmington American Legion, 140 E. Locust St., downtown Wilmington ($7 advance, $10 at door; free admission for active and reserve soldiers); General Denver Hotel dining room, 81 W. Main St., downtown Wilmington, no cover charge; Damon’s, 1045 Eastside Drive, Wilmington; Generations Pizzeria, 100 Lowe’s Drive, Wilmington (reservations please, 382-3845). Also, Cassano’s, 37 W. Locust St., downtown Wilmington; Door of Hope, 495 E. Locust St., Wilmington; Buffalo Wild Wings, 143 Fairway Drive, Wilmington; Shoe Sensation, 1354 Rombach Ave., Wilmington; Max & Erma’s restaurant, 123 Gano Road, five miles from Wilmington; Blanchester Municipal Building & Community Center’s cafeteria (17 miles from Wilmington), 318 E. Main St., Blanchester; Red Rooster Bed & Breakfast, 5848 U.S. 22 West, Wilmington; and Web-based access, contact

Funny how Ellen missed all those other locations. It’s clear that Brodsky was rooting for the visit to fail, and for Wilmington charities to be denied any contributions that might be attributed to Glenn Beck. So maybe that’s why she wrapped up her coverage of the event with a classic bit of newspoodle fabrication:

Beck Bombs In Wilmington, OH...I can't say I'm surprised that in a town where more than half the population of 12,500 is unemployed, $125 tickets to see Glenn Beck didn't sell so well.

You can almost visualize Ellen Brodsky cackling with glee that those soup kitchens won’t get any money from Glenn Beck. That’ll teach ‘em! (Maybe somewhere in there she threw in ‘my little pretties’, just to complete the picture.) There’s just one problem with Ellen’s report: it’s not true. Now there’s a shocker:

On Wednesday, Beck will broadcast his radio show live from Murphy Theater in Wilmington beginning at 9 a.m. At 8 p.m., Beck will kick off "America's First Christmas", a night where Glenn will bring viewers back to the true meaning of Christmas as he encourages them to start over, reset priorities, and reconnect with what is important. Tickets to both of these events are sold out.

Just in case Brodsky missed that last part:

Tickets to both of these events are sold out.

In fact, local papers reported three weeks before the event was held:

The 769-seat Murphy Theatre in Wilmington has been sold out at $125 per seat for “America’s First Christmas,” presented by FOX News talk show host Glenn Beck. Reportedly all hotels in Wilmington are booked for the 8 p.m. Dec. 15 event, with the exception of Hampton Inn & Suites which Wednesday afternoon had about four rooms left for both Dec. 14 and 15 after receiving about 70 reservations since last Friday when Beck announced he’s coming to Wilmington.

In case that isn’t enough to dispel Ellen’s lie about the tickets not selling, there’s this:

We just went to see and talk to people, because we thought that $125 was way too much money to spend to see Glenn Beck. We were so impressed with the conversations of why people were there, that we asked 3 times at the ticket counter for any unclaimed tickets. And at the last moment we bought some because a couple had an unexpected emergency.

Against all of Ellen Brodsky’s hopes and wishes, the Beck visit was not a ‘bomb’. But don’t take our word for it. Just read what the Wilmington News Journal had to say. So where did Brodsky get the idea that the tickets didn’t sell and the visit was a bust? She made it up! Well, to be fair, not entirely. She lifted it from another dishonest ‘report’ courtesy of discredited liar Eric Boehlert. But none of that bothersome fact-checking for Ellen. This story was simply too good to check. And another Brodsky rip-’n’-regurgitate smear enters the record books.

By the way, you might want to check out Calvin Freiburger’s delightful rundown of Ellen Brodsky’s new horizons in lameness. And if you need more evidence, we offer this stunning example:

PolitiFact has chosen as its 2010 Lie of the Year, "a government takeover of health care." It just so happens that that mantra was adopted as truth and mandated for use by Fox News' "objective reporters" by Fox News honchos.

Ellen conveniently gives zero examples of any Fox reporters using that phrase. Instead she hangs her hat on something different:

Fox News reporters were instructed not to "slip back" into the term "public option" when reporting on the health care debate, but to use the preferred term, "the government-run plan.”

So what’s Brodsky lying about this time? PolitiFact, her own source, explains why it believes ‘government take-over’ is not an accurate description of the current healthcare law:

The law does not include the public option, a government-run insurance plan that would have competed with private insurers.

What’s this? PolitiFact agrees with Fox News (and its honchos) that the public option is in fact a ‘government run’ plan. Contrary to Brodsky, Fox reporters were asked to use that phrase when discussing the public option, not when discussing a healthcare bill without a public option. So how many lies is this? No, Fox reporters did not use ‘government take-over of health care’ as a mantra. No, they were not instructed to use it. They were asked to use the phrase ‘government-run’ to describe the public option, just like PolitiFact does! And Ellen Brodsky? Caught in Another Hound Lie.

Finally, in the spirit of the season, we want to wish everyone--even ‘Priscilla’, Brodsky, Boehlert, et al--best wishes for a Merry and meaningful Christmas. It’s a good time for perspective, and to realize there are things more important than the terrestrial squabbles that occupy so much of our time. May the New Year bring peace and good health to all.
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