Skip to Content

Media Matters

Syndicate content
Media Matters for America default feed
Updated: 2 days 17 hours ago

Fox's Chris Wallace Hails The 40 Year Cold War Timeline As Model For The "War On Terror"

May 26, 2013 - 5:09am

Fox host Chris Wallace criticized President Obama's counter-terrorism speech which redefined how the country fights global terrorism by comparing the 12 year "war on terror" to the 40 year Cold War. However, Wallace ignored Obama's promise to continue targeting terrorist networks and the president's speech has been praised by supporters and critics of the administration.

President Obama promised an end to the perpetual warfare that began following the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon during a May 23 speech at the National Defense University. On the May 26 edition of Fox News Sunday, host Chris Wallace used Obama's call to redefine the "boundless war on terror" as a "series of persistent targeted efforts" to suggest that the president is declaring the war over too soon and putting the country in danger, adding that "the Cold War lasted for 40 years":

In fact, rather than declaring the threat of terrorism over as Wallace suggested, Obama made clear that he would continue to target and dismantle terrorist networks, while working to repeal the Authorization to Use Military Force which has kept "America on a perpetual wartime footing." From the speech:

Fox Hosts Anti-Islam Commentator To Falsely Claim Obama Counterterrorism Speech Was "Signaling Surrender"

May 25, 2013 - 5:29am

Fox invited Anti-Islam commentator Frank Gaffney to smear President Obama with "signaling surrender" to terrorists in his May 23 speech, ignoring Obama's direct references to the ongoing threat of terrorism and calls for increased vigilance in the face of "more localized threats."

On May 23, Obama appeared at the National Defense University to speak about ongoing counterterrorism efforts, the use of drone strikes overseas, and his plan to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay. Two days later, Fox hosted Center for Security Policy (CSP) founder Frank Gaffney, asking him why he felt "the president's speech was ill-advised and coming at an inappropriate time." In response, Gaffney falsely suggested that Obama had signaled a willingness to surrender, while calling for increased recognition of what he sees as a more expansive "global jihad" (emphasis added):

FOX ANCHOR ANNA KOOIMAN: Tell me a little about how do you feel like the president's speech was ill-advised and coming at an inappropriate time?

GAFFNEY: Well, you know, Memorial Day is an opportunity for us to reflect on one central reality throughout history. One side can't end a war except through either winning it or losing it, surrendering. And I'm afraid what the president laid out was pretty much a ruling out of winning and embrace, though he may not have said so much, of surrendering. And the trouble here is that we're not clear about who it is we're signaling a willingness to surrender too. We have been calling them terrorists for years. I don't think that's appropriate. We have been calling them violent extremists more recently under this administration. These are both euphemisms that really conceal what we're up against. Even Hillary Rodham Clinton on her way out the door said what we are facing now is global jihad and indeed that's what I think in each of those various scenes that you just showed we're dealing with here and certainly elsewhere is the folks who believe that it is their god's will they will impose their doctrine of Sharia on all of us. Muslims who don't want to be under that and us as well and they're willing to use violence and nonviolent means to do it.


GAFFNEY: Here is the rub: The folks who we're now signaling a willingness to accommodate are only emboldened by it, in fact their doctrine, this Sharia notion, as you can find in this document at It's a thin little précis of what the Muslim Brotherhood, not al Qaeda but other Islamists now under their banner are saying and it is that they will destroy us from within if possible by our own hands. We've got to be clear that's what we're up against.

Gaffney's analysis willfully misinterprets Obama's counterterrorism plans.

Obama's words stand in direct contrast to Gaffney's claim that he had signaled surrender. In his speech, Obama said the first goal of his counterterrorism strategy is to "finish the work of defeating al-Qaida and its associated forces" in Afghanistan and beyond.

Obama pointed out that "the threat has shifted and evolved from the one that came to our shores on 9/11" and said that the United States must "dismantle networks that pose a direct danger to us and make it less likely for new groups to gain a foothold, all the while maintaining the freedoms and ideals that we defend."

He acknowledged that extremists have gained "a foothold in countries like Libya and Syria," but described a strategy to deal with the threat:

In some cases, we continue to confront state-sponsored networks like Hezbollah that engage in acts of terror to achieve political goals. Other of these groups are simply collections of local militias or extremists interested in seizing territory. And while we are vigilant for signs that these groups may pose a transnational threat, most are focused on operating in the countries and regions where they are based. And that means we'll face more localized threats like what we saw in Benghazi, or the BP oil facility in Algeria, in which local operatives -- perhaps in loose affiliation with regional networks -- launch periodic attacks against Western diplomats, companies and other soft targets, or resort to kidnapping and other criminal enterprises to fund their operations.

Obama also noted the threat of homegrown terrorism, which he said "closely resembles the types of attacks we faced before 9/11." He emphasized the need to "take these threats seriously and do all that we can to confront them."

Fox's decision to turn to Gaffney for analysis of anti-terrorism efforts is ill-advised, considering his well-documented bias against Islam and propensity for distorting the issue.

The Southern Law Poverty Center has dubbed Gaffney "the anti-Muslim movement's most paranoid propagandist," and pointed out that he has "been banned from the Conservative Political Action Conference" because of past bigoted statements.

Media Matters has previously noted many of Gaffney's extreme comments, including his suggestion that the left and Islamists are both "advancing the takedown of America" and that for Muslims, "the preferred way of achieving [Shariah Law] is ... through violence." 

Conservative Media Ignore Experts' Analysis To Attack Obama's Yemen Decision

May 24, 2013 - 12:38pm

Right-wing media figures are attacking President Obama over his decision to lift a moratorium on a Guantánamo Bay detainee transfer to Yemen -- a decision that has earned the praise of a former top Navy judge and is an important step toward closing the detention facility, which experts agree is necessary.

On May 23, Obama announced that he is lifting his ban on the transfer of detainees from the Guantánamo Bay detention center to Yemen. That ban was put in place following the failed Christmas Day 2009 bombing attempt on a U.S. airliner. The convicted bomber involved in the attempt trained in Yemen.

Right-wing media figures seized on the news to attack Obama. Fox News contributor Michelle Malkin warned that transfers are "a surefire recipe for more Benghazis, more U.S.S. Coles and more innocent lives at risk":

Gird your loins, America. President Obama intends to empty out Guantanamo Bay and send scores of suspected Muslim terror operatives back to their jihadist-coddling native countries. Goaded by anti-war activists and soft-on-terror attorneys (including those from Attorney General Eric Holder's former private law firm), Obama announced Thursday that he'll lift a ban on sending up to 90 Yemeni detainees home and will initiate other stalled transfers out of the compound.

This radical appeasement of Obama's left flank is a surefire recipe for more Benghazis, more U.S.S. Coles and more innocent lives at risk.

On the May 24 edition of The Laura Ingraham Show, host and Fox News contributor Laura Ingraham touted Malkin's "terrific piece" and criticized Obama's lifting of the ban as nothing more than an "attempt to look like you're serious."

As Reuters reported, repatriating prisoners to Yemen is one of multiple steps Obama announced to move toward closing Guantánamo -- something experts agree must be done. 

Giuliani Distorts President Obama's Counter-Terrorism Speech

May 24, 2013 - 12:01pm

On Fox News, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani suggested that the Obama administration has refused to recognize extremist Muslim ideology as a unifying theme in terrorist attacks on the U.S. even though the day before President Obama expressly identified radical Islam as "a common ideology" in terrorist attacks.

On the May 24 edition of Fox's America's Newsroom, Giuliani attacked a speech that Obama delivered the day before at the National Defense University, claiming the president does not understand the role of extremist Islamic ideology in fueling terrorism and comparing him to "a police chief that refuses to recognize" a connection between many serial killings:

In fact, President Obama discussed the role that radical Islam plays in terror attacks in his speech, stressing the need to understand that terrorist threats "don't arise in a vacuum":

Lethal yet less capable al Qaeda affiliates. Threats to diplomatic facilities and businesses abroad. Homegrown extremists. This is the future of terrorism. We must take these threats seriously, and do all that we can to confront them. But as we shape our response, we have to recognize that the scale of this threat closely resembles the types of attacks we faced before 9/11. In the 1980s, we lost Americans to terrorism at our Embassy in Beirut; at our Marine Barracks in Lebanon; on a cruise ship at sea; at a disco in Berlin; and on Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie. In the 1990s, we lost Americans to terrorism at the World Trade Center; at our military facilities in Saudi Arabia; and at our Embassy in Kenya. These attacks were all deadly, and we learned that left unchecked, these threats can grow. But if dealt with smartly and proportionally, these threats need not rise to the level that we saw on the eve of 9/11.

Moreover, we must recognize that these threats don't arise in a vacuum. Most, though not all, of the terrorism we face is fueled by a common ideology - a belief by some extremists that Islam is in conflict with the United States and the West, and that violence against Western targets, including civilians, is justified in pursuit of a larger cause. Of course, this ideology is based on a lie, for the United States is not at war with Islam; and this ideology is rejected by the vast majority of Muslims, who are the most frequent victims of terrorist acts.

Fox News Devotes Zero Seconds To Covering Brutal Anti-Gay Hate Crime

May 24, 2013 - 11:17am

The recent brutal slaying of a gay man in New York City had all the trappings of a national news story, so why was it ignored by major cable news outlets?

On May 17, Mark Carson was shot in the face and killed while walking home in New York's Greenwich Village by a man who pelted him with anti-gay slurs and asked, "You want to die tonight?" Carson's alleged killer, Elliot Morales, reportedly laughed as he was arrested by police, bragging about what he had done.

The incident highlights a recent spike in anti-gay hate crimes both in New York City and across the country. Days after Carson's death, community members staged a massive rally against anti-gay violence featuring several city mayoral candidates.

Carson's death was also symbolically significant. The shooting took place just blocks away from the Stonewall Inn, considered by many to be the birthplace of the modern gay rights movement. And the brutal hate crime comes in the wake of growing acceptance of LGBT people, with three more states adopting marriage equality just in the past several weeks.

But despite the significance of Carson's death, cable news outlets largely ignored the incident, opting instead to continue obsessively reporting on the trial against Jodi Arias, a woman who has been convicted of murdering her boyfriend.

According to an Equality Matters analysis, while all three major cable news networks extensively covered Arias' trial and her plea to jurors to avoid the death penalty, CNN spent less than one minute discussing Carson's murder, and Fox News ignored the story completely:

John Fund Calls IRS Scrutiny Of Conservative Groups "Real Voter Suppression"

May 24, 2013 - 11:14am

Fox News contributor and National Review columnist John Fund fabricated a link between voter suppression and IRS employees inappropriately singling out tea party and conservative groups' applications for tax-exempt status, claiming that such scrutiny by the IRS is the "real" form of voter suppression.  

Fund still claims that voter suppression as commonly understood - attempts to prevent certain members of the public from voting - did not take place during the 2012 elections, despite widespread reports of such efforts fueled by restrictive voter ID laws.  

On the May 21 edition of Lou Dobbs Tonight, Fund stated that "there was a lot of ridiculous charges about voter suppression in the last election even though black turnout was higher than white turnout." Fund again denied the existence of voter suppression in a May 23 editorial in the National Review Online, stating that allegations of voter suppression"proved to be twaddle."    

In fact, research shows that there were widespread attempts to suppress the vote in the 2012 elections. Supporters of voter ID laws, the most common voter suppression measures, claimed that they would combat "voter fraud." However, such fraud is virtually non-existent.

Acknowledging that concern for voter fraud is a pretext, some state officials admitted that voting restrictions were enacted to influence the outcome of the election. For example, Florida officials acknowledged that efforts to curb access to early voting were intended to decrease Democratic votes:

Wayne Bertsch, who handles local and legislative races for Republicans, said he knew targeting Democrats was the goal.

"In the races I was involved in in 2008, when we started seeing the increase of turnout and the turnout operations that the Democrats were doing in early voting, it certainly sent a chill down our spines. And in 2008, it didn't have the impact that we were afraid of. It got close, but it wasn't the impact that they had this election cycle," Bertsch said, referring to the fact that Democrats picked up seven legislative seats in Florida in 2012 despite the early voting limitations.

Another GOP consultant, who did not want to be named, also confirmed that influential consultants to the Republican Party of Florida were intent on beating back Democratic turnout in early voting after 2008.

In 2008 Democrats, especially African-Americans, turned out in unprecedented numbers for President Barack Obama, many of them casting ballots during 14 early voting days. In Palm Beach County, 61.2 percent of all early voting ballots were cast by Democrats that year, compared with 18.7 percent by Republicans.

"I'm Not A Lawyer, But ...": Right-Wing Media Disagree With Legal Experts On Fifth Amendment

May 24, 2013 - 10:46am

Right-wing media figures argued that Internal Revenue Service official Lois Lerner waived her Fifth Amendment rights at a congressional hearing by declaring her innocence before invoking those rights. By contrast, legal experts say Lerner's statement did not negate her constitutional protections.

Right-Wing Media: Lerner "Clearly Gave Up Her Fifth Amendment Right"

Fox's Napolitano: Fifth Amendment Is "An All-Or-Nothing Proposition." On the May 22 edition of Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto, Fox senior legal correspondent Andrew Napolitano claimed that by giving a statement at the hearing declaring her innocence, Lois Lerner waived her Fifth Amendment protections in part or in full:

NAPOLITANO: Look, there's a couple ways to look at this. The Fifth Amendment has been interpreted by the courts -- that's the amendment that says you don't have to testify against yourself -- as an all-or-nothing proposition. You either give no testimony other than saying who you are, or you answer all questions truthfully. If witnesses were permitted to pick and choose which question to answer, then they would control the forum rather than the questioner. So she either waived her Fifth Amendment right by making her statement -- meaning she now has to answer everything -- or she certainly waived her Fifth Amendment right about the statements she made. So when she said: "I didn't do anything wrong. I didn't break any laws. I didn't violate any IRS procedures," she waived her Fifth Amendment right on those three categories -- anything wrong, federal laws, IRS procedures. And the House of Representatives can go around the corner to a federal judge, not far from where I am now, and get an order directing her to answer their questions on those three subject matters because she volunteered to say that before she invoked the Fifth Amendment protection. [Fox News, Your World with Neil Cavuto, 5/22/13]

Fox's Krauthammer: "I'm Not A Lawyer, But" Lerner "Clearly Gave Up Her Fifth Amendment Right." On the May 22 edition of Fox News' Special Report, Fox contributor Charles Krauthammer claimed that Lerner waived her Fifth Amendment right after making a brief statement expressing her innocence:

KRAUTHAMMER: But I'm just astonished by how weakly and with such uncertainty [Rep. Darrell] Issa (R-CA) handled that. I mean I'm not a lawyer, but it is clear that if she makes a statement, a substantive statement on all of these things, and then says "but, I'm not going to answer your questions" that [Rep. Trey] Gowdy (R-SC) is right. You can't have it one way, speak on the issue and then say "I'm not going to answer your question." She clearly gave up her right -- the Fifth Amendment right -- if not entirely, at least on the things she said: "I didn't break any laws. I didn't break any of the regulations. I did nothing wrong." On those she must speak with the committee. [Fox News, Special Report with Bret Baier, 5/22/13]

Limbaugh: "The Fifth Amendment Is Not Intended To Be Used As A Shield." On the May 22 edition of his radio show, Rush Limbaugh argued that Lerner's statement waived her Fifth Amendment rights:

LIMBAUGH: It is as I thought: the Fifth Amendment is not intended to be used as a shield. The Fifth Amendment is simply there to make sure they prove it. You do not have to incriminate yourself, but once you assert your innocence and once you say you didn't do anything wrong, you can't then use the Fifth Amendment to say "I'm not answering questions." [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 5/22/13]

Fox's Gasparino: "I Don't Know How You Get Away With Taking The Fifth After You Start Defending Yourself." On the May 23 edition of Fox & Friends, Fox Business Network senior correspondent Charlie Gasparino claimed that Lerner should be held "in some sort of contempt" for issuing a statement of innocence before invoking her Fifth Amendment rights:

GASPARINO:  That was bizarre. I mean I don't know how you get away with taking the Fifth after you start defending yourself. If this was a court of law you'd be held in contempt or something like this. It's a congressional panel. They should bring her back and hold her in some sort of contempt and get her to fess up here exactly who knew what where. What is really scary about this is that it shows you how bad and insane big government is. The guys on the top starting with the president, we don't know what happened down here. It shows you that if you were out there and you voted for this president and his economic agenda how unaccountable it is because he wants this big government where he doesn't have to account for anything. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 5/23/13]

Fox's Doocy: Lerner "Took The Fifth, And Now She Will Have To Face The Music." On the May 23 edition of Fox News's Fox & Friends, co-hosts Steve Doocy and Gretchen Carlson claimed Lerner will "have to face the music" for her "serious and profound and almost unheard of error":

DOOCY: So, the big question is: did she waive her Fifth Amendment rights by giving an opening statement? Legal experts say it could be interpreted as a subject matter waiver, where she made factual statements and then tried to clam up. But you got to wonder: you know, Lois [Lerner] has been before Congress a number of times, why is she afraid of telling the truth? [...] Lois should've just sat there and told the truth, but instead she took the Fifth and now she will have to face the music.

CARLSON: Well, since I'm not a lawyer -- I always wanted to be one -- but I consulted Judge Andrew Napolitano this morning. Here's what he said about it: "It was a serious and profound and almost unheard of legal error. She can now be compelled to answer questions about the substance of the denials she uttered before she invoked the Fifth Amendment privilege." And that's what Darrel Issa believes. He's now possibly going to subpoena her and hold her in contempt, if she does not come back and answer questions.  [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 5/23/13]

Fox's Van Susteren: Lerner's Statement Was "Probably One of the Dumbest Things She Could've Done." On the May 22 edition of Fox News' On The Record with Greta Van Susteren, the host claimed Lerner is now in a position where courts could "compel her to testify" because of her broad statement of innocence:

VAN SUSTEREN: You know, I've gone back and forth all day long, whether you're right or wrong -- you're right or you're wrong -- and then it occurred to me that this is probably one of the dumbest things she could've done. And her lawyer, who I know, probably advised -- because if you think about it, is that all she had to do was go in here, take the Fifth, leave the building, and she could've said the same thing on the steps of the United States Capitol. Everyone in the media would've followed it, we would've all been replaying it, and then she wouldn't be in this position where you guys are thinking about going to court to compel her to testify as a waiver.

GOWDY: That, or have her lawyer read her statement or post it on Facebook. She had a lot of options, but she didn't choose any of those. She came, as you noted, came to our committee hearing under subpoena, took the oath. She had already warmed us she might invoke, and then she testified. I mean, what she did was testimony. So my question to Chairman Issa is: when do we get our chance? You say you didn't lie to Congress, you say you didn't break any IRS rules. Let us decide that. Let us ask you some questions. Chairman Issa has got a couple different options at his disposal, one of which is to bring her back tomorrow. I promise you, Greta, if she comes back tomorrow she will invoke, which will then set up a contempt analysis. [Fox News, On the Record with Greta Van Susteren, 5/22/13]'s Pollak On Lerner's Remarks: "An Opening Statement On Record ... Would Waive Her Rights." In an update to a May 22 article, editor-in-chief and former Republican nominee for Congress Joel Pollak claimed that Lerner's "opening statement" disqualified her from Fifth Amendment protections:

It is possible that Lerner anticipated an eventual subpoena and therefore chose to place an opening statement on record even though doing so would waive her rights. She has been accused of lying to Congress. [, 5/22/13]

Actual Legal Experts: Lerner's Statement Doesn't Negate Her Rights

Fifth Amendment Expert: "Select Invocation" Such As Lerner's Happens "All The Time." In a May 22 article, New York magazine's Dan Amira and Regent University Fifth Amendment expert James Duane explained that Lerner's statement is not in fact a waiver of her constitutional rights, and that such statements occur frequently in congressional hearings:

Had this been an actual criminal trial, in an actual courtroom, and had Lerner been an actual defendant, then yes, it would not have been permissible for her to testify in her own defense and then refuse cross-examination on Fifth Amendment grounds. But a congressional hearing is not a criminal trial in two important ways, Duane tells Daily Intelligencer.

First, unlike in a trial, where she could choose to take the stand or not, Lerner had no choice but to appear before the committee. Second, in a trial there would be a justifiable concern about compromising a judge or jury by providing them with "selective, partial presentation of the facts." But Congress is merely pursuing information as part of an investigation, not making a definitive ruling on Lerner's guilt or innocence.

"When somebody is in this situation," says Duane, a Harvard Law graduate whose 2008 lecture on invoking the Fifth Amendment with police has been viewed on YouTube nearly 2.5 million times, "when they are involuntarily summoned before grand jury or before legislative body, it is well settled that they have a right to make a 'selective invocation,' as it's called, with respect to questions that they think might raise a meaningful risk of incriminating themselves."

In fact, Duane says, "even if Ms. Lerner had given answers to a few questions -- five, ten, twenty questions -- before she decided, 'That's where I draw the line, I'm not answering any more questions,' she would be able to do that as well." Such uses of selective invocation "happen all the time." [New York5/22/13]

WSJ: Legal Expert: "A Denial Is Different Than Disclosing Incriminating Facts." A May 22 article on The Wall Street Journal's Law Blog explains that while Lerner's remarks exist in a legally ambiguous space, legal experts say "it didn't seem that Ms. Lerner disclosed any incriminating facts that would demand further explanation":

Ms. Lerner, who was subpoenaed to testify, wasn't taking the stand at a criminal trial. But it's generally accepted that the same protections apply in congressional investigations.

To guard against distorted testimony, courts have held that you can't selectively invoke the privilege by picking and choosing the details that you disclose.

But it's never been clearly articulated exactly what constitutes a waiver of privileges in this situation, Andrew D. Leipold, a professor of criminal procedure at the University of Illinois College of Law, told Law Blog.

The same issue came up in 2002, when Bernard Ebbers, the former chief executive of WorldCom, rankled members of the House Financial Services Committee when he asserted his Fifth Amendment rights after declaring himself innocent of criminal conduct and defending his role at the company in brief prepared remarks. He was never charged with contempt of Congress.

But while it would have been safer for Ms. Lerner to not saying anything, it's doubtful that Ms. Lerner went too far in her opening remarks, legal experts said.

Yale Kamisar, a retired University of Michigan law professor who is an expert on criminal procedure, said it didn't seem that Ms. Lerner disclosed any incriminating facts that would demand further explanation.

"A denial is different than disclosing incriminating facts," he said. "You ought to be able to make a general denial, and then say I don't want to discuss it further," he said. [The Wall Street Journal5/22/13]

Former Harvard Law School Dean: Fifth Amendment Holds In Criminal Court, Why Not In "Legislative Inquiry"? A May 22 article at The Guardian's U.S. News blog recounts America's complex history with the Fifth Amendment, citing an essay by legal scholar Erwin Griswold. While the contexts differ, Griswold's argument for the Fifth holds:

A Harvard law school dean, Erwin Griswold, mounted the seminal defense of the practice in a 1954 essay titled The Fifth Amendment: An Old and Good Friend. Revolted by the personal destructiveness of the McCarthy era, Griswold drew a comparison between criminal courts and congressional hearings:

In our criminal courts, we would never think of requiring an accused person to answer questions. He doesn't have to take the stand at all, and if he does do so, he has the protection of an impartial judge, and the right to have his counsel speak in court on his behalf. Why should it be so different in a legislative inquiry, when the information that is sought relates to the witness' own conduct? [The Guardian5/22/13]

Collapsing Bridges, Collapsing Spending, And Neil Cavuto's Infrastructure Denialism

May 24, 2013 - 10:24am

In the face of repeated infrastructure related disasters, Fox News host Neil Cavuto has continued to dismiss calls for an increase in infrastructure spending, claiming that spending on infrastructure is high enough. In reality, infrastructure spending has plummeted in recent years.

A Bridge Collapse In Washington "Shines Light On Aging Infrastructure"

The Seattle Times: "An I-5 Bridge Over The Skagit River In Mount Vernon Collapsed Thursday Evening, Sending Cars And People Into The Water." According to the Seattle Times: 

A chunk of Interstate 5 collapsed into the Skagit River near Mount Vernon on Thursday evening, dumping two vehicles into the icy waters and creating a gaping hole in Washington state's major north-south artery. 


Rescuers pulled three people with minor injuries from the water after the collapse, which authorities say began when a semitruck with an oversized load struck a steel beam at around 7 p.m. [Seattle Times5/23/13]

USA Today: "Bridge Collapse Shines Light On Aging Infrastructure." According to USA Today on May 24: 

Six years after a Minneapolis bridge collapse that killed 13 people called attention to the state of the nation's bridges, there has been minimal improvement and insufficient funding to repair and replace aging spans. The collapse Thursday of the Interstate Highway 5 in Washington state shined the spotlight once again on troubled bridges. [USA Today5/24/13]

Neil Cavuto Has Repeatedly Dismissed Calls For More Infrastructure Spending

In March 2013, Cavuto Said, "The Issue Isn't More Money Going To Infrastructure." From Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto on March 29 (emphasis added):

CAVUTO: Well, if you keep talking about building it, the money will come.

The president in Florida today doing just that, arguing for more spending on roads and bridges. But haven't we spent hundreds of billions of dollars on roads and bridges thus far?

Between highway tolls and fees, state excise taxes, federal highway transportation taxes, the issue isn't more money going to infrastructure. The issue could be what the heck happened to all the money we have already spent and committed to infrastructure.


If I had a dime for every time I heard politicians talk about the infrastructure, I would have a lot of dimes. We could have built a bridge to Oz, right? But -- but what happened to all the money that we already committed? [Your World via, 3/29/13, accessed 5/24/13]

Cavuto Claimed: "We Pour A Lot Of Money... For Things Like Roads And Bridges And Highways." From a May 17 interview with Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) on Fox News' Your World:

CAVUTO: You know, it's a dumb question on my part but last time I checked, I mean we pour a lot of money, commit a lot of money, gasoline taxes, tolls on bridges and roads, et cetera, surtaxes -- our transportation department for things like roads and bridges and highways. So I would like to know where that money has gone before I commit more money. [Fox News, Your World, 

[Business Insider5/24/13]

Washington Post: "U.S. Infrastructure Spending Has Plummeted Since 2008." According to Brad Plummer of the Washington Post, "Not surprisingly, the collapse of a bridge along Interstate 5 in Washington state yesterday has revived the long-standing debate over whether Congress should spend more to repair the nation's aging roads and bridges." After discussing 

There's still been a big drop-off in recent years, although that also came after a big build-up in the late 2000s. (Sadly, the data series doesn't extend back before 2002, so it's tough to see what this looks like historically.) [Washington Post5/24/13]

USA Today: "Federal Highway Administration Study Shows 11% Of Nation's Bridges Are Structurally Deficient." According to USA Today on May 24:

In 2012, the Federal Highway Administration said 67,000 -- 11% -- of the nation's 607,000 bridges were structurally deficient. That means the bridges are not unsafe but must be closely monitored and inspected or repaired. That percentage is little changed since 2007 when 12% of the nation's bridges were listed as structurally deficient and the I-35 bridge collapsed in Minneapolis. [USA Today5/24/13]

USA Today: The American Society Of Civil Engineers Called For An Increase In Spending On Bridge Investment. From USA Today on May 24:

[F]unding repairs and replacements continues to be a problem, especially because bridges are getting older, says Andrew Herrmann, an engineer and past president of the American Society of Civil Engineers. The average bridge in the USA is 42 years old, Herrmann says.


The group gave the nation a C+ in its report card for maintaining bridges, saying federal, state and local governments need to increase bridge investment by $8 billion annually to meet the needs of deficient bridges. [USA Today5/24/13]

Fox News Whitewashes Reality To Smear Holder With Perjury Accusations

May 24, 2013 - 9:06am

Fox News distorted the testimony of Attorney General Eric Holder to claim that he committed perjury before the House Judiciary Committee last week.

It was recently revealed that the Justice Department obtained a search warrant for the communications records of Fox News reporter James Rosen in an effort to track down a leaker who provided him with classified information on North Korea in 2009. On May 15, during a hearing of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA) asked Holder about the warrant and the potential for prosecuting journalists accused of publishing classified information that they obtained from government sources. Holder responded (emphasis added):

With regard to the potential prosecution of the press for the disclosure of material. That is not something that I've ever been involved in, heard of, or would think would be a wise policy.

On May 24, the Justice Department released a statement clarifying Holder's involvement in the approval process for the warrants in question (emphasis added):

"The Department takes seriously the First Amendment right to freedom of the press. In recognition of this, the Department took great care in deciding that a search warrant was necessary in the Kim matter, vetting the decision at the highest levels of the Department, including discussions with the Attorney General. After extensive deliberations, and after following all applicable laws, regulations and policies, the Department sought an appropriately tailored search warrant under the Privacy Protection Act. And a federal magistrate judge made an independent finding that probable cause existed to approve the search warrant."

Fox News' Special Report on May 24 argued that these statements were inconsistent and concluded that the Attorney General had previously lied to the Judiciary Committee and thus had committed perjury. Host Shannon Bream began the show stating, "It's his story, but he's not sticking to it," claiming that Holder has "chang[ed] his tune" on his involvement in the scrutiny of journalists. Contributor Steve Hayes claimed that Holder's two statements were "incongruent" and Charles Krauthammer speculated that it may be "a case of perjury."

In fact, the statements are not "incongruent" whatsoever. Holder's comments to the Judiciary referred to the possibility of prosecuting journalists for publishing classified information, but that is not the crime the Justice Department's warrant accused Rosen of committing. DOJ investigators were concerned with Rosen's solicitation of classified information, not any subsequent publication of it. Wired explained (emphasis added):

According to the affidavit (.pdf), FBI Agent Reginald Reyes told the judge there was probable cause to believe that Rosen had violated the Espionage Act by serving "as an aider, abettor and/or co-conspirator" in the leak. The Espionage Act is the same law that former Army intelligence analyst Bradley Manning is accused of violating when he leaked information to the secret-spilling site WikiLeaks.

To support his assertion, Reyes quoted an email exchange between Kim and Rosen, in which Rosen told him that he was interested in "breaking news ahead of my competitors" and had a particular interest in "what intelligence is picking up." He also told Kim, "I'd love to see some internal State Department analyses."

The suggestion was that Rosen broke the law by soliciting information from Kim, something that all journalists do routinely with sources.

Nonetheless, the federal judge found there was probable cause to believe that Rosen was a co-conspirator and approved the warrant.

In other words, Holder's on-the-record denial of involvement in any prosecution of news organizations for publishing classified information in no way conflicts with any knowledge he may have possessed or action the DOJ may have taken against reporters for soliciting said information. Fox's perjury accusations simply don't align with the facts.

Wash. Times Lazily Parrots GOP Misinformation On D.C. Circuit Vacancies

May 24, 2013 - 3:32am

The Washington Times attempted to recycle misinformation about Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's warning that GOP obstructionism of President Obama's nominees is unsustainable, but published an inaccurate argument that doesn't support its own rhetoric.

In a May 24 editorial, The Washington Times claimed Reid's announcement that he would revisit filibuster reform in July because of the unprecedented obstructionism of the president's executive and judicial nominees "disturbed the peace of the Senate" and was a "variant" of court-packing analogous to former President Franklin Roosevelt's famous threat to expand the number of seats on the pre-war Supreme Court. From the editorial:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid doesn't like the direction the federal judiciary is heading, so he has come up with a variant of court-packing to achieve his results. He took the Senate floor Wednesday to defend the use of the "nuclear option" to bypass Senate rules and force through President Obama's nominees to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

That would be the same court whose three-member panel in late January ruled, unanimously, that Mr. Obama's faux "recess appointments" of Big Labor-approved nominees to the National Labor Relations Board were unconstitutional. "You have a majority in that court that is wreaking havoc in the country," Mr. Reid complained, citing only the NLRB ruling. "For the first time in 230 years, they ruled the president can't make a recess appointment."

The three judges accused of havoc-wreaking merely made the point, obvious to English-speakers everywhere, that the president is obliged to wait for a recess before he can make a recess appointment.


Mr. Reid's rant disturbed the peace of the Senate amid debate over how quickly to proceed with the nomination of Deputy Solicitor General Sri Srinivasan to the 11-member D.C. appeals court, which currently has four vacancies. Mr. Reid's claim that the vacancies must be filled at once to restore ideological "balance" to the court is patently false, given that four of its seven judges are appointees of Republican presidents and three were appointed by Democrats. Four more liberal judges would likely guarantee a rubber stamp for Mr. Obama's agenda. Some "balance."

Mr. Reid is trying to follow the example of Franklin D. Roosevelt, who dreamed up the concept of outcome-based adjudication with his 1937 attempt to pack the U.S. Supreme Court.

Contrary to The Washington Times' description that Reid is trying to "bypass Senate rules," Reid is actually adopting a GOP proposal that was floated when Republicans were in the majority, which was to change Senate rules to allow filibusters to be broken by majority vote. Although a handful of longer-tenured Democratic Senators have been hesitant at such a move - the so-called "nuclear option" - the stark realization that GOP opposition to the president's agenda has extended to blanket opposition of his nominees is reportedly causing a change in position

Bureaucrat Whispering's Perfect Moment

May 24, 2013 - 1:32am

In case you haven't been following, the hot new right-wing narrative is that President Obama, despite not having any provable connection to the IRS's inappropriate targeting of conservative non-profit groups, is nonetheless culpable because he exerts subtle influence over low-level bureaucrats which leads them to act out against conservatives and the Tea Party. The chief proponent of this theory has been the Wall Street Journal editorial page -- specifically, Journal editorial board member Kimberley Strassel, who has devoted her last two weekly columns to Bureaucrat Whispering.

Her May 24 column can be viewed as Bureaucrat Whispering's apotheosis, as she argues that if the country really wants to "get to the bottom of the IRS scandal," it must look to the White House, which was not involved in the actual scandal:

None of this proves that Mr. Obama was involved in the IRS targeting of conservative nonprofits. But it does help explain how we got an environment in which the IRS thought this was acceptable.

The rise of conservative organizations (to match liberal groups that had long played in politics), and their effectiveness in the 2004 election (derided broadly by liberals as "swift boating"), led to a new and organized campaign in 2008 to chill conservative donors and groups via the threat of government investigation and prosecution. The tone in any organization--a charity, a corporation, the U.S. government--is set at the top.

This history also casts light on White House claims that it was clueless about the IRS's targeting. As Huffington Post's Howard Fineman wrote this week: "With two winning presidential campaigns built on successful grassroots fundraising, with a former White House counsel (in 2010-11) who is one of the Democrats' leading experts on campaign law (Bob Bauer), with former top campaign officials having been ensconced as staffers in the White House . . . it's hard to imagine that the Obama inner circle was oblivious to the issue of what the IRS was doing in Cincinnati." More like inconceivable.

And this history exposes the left's hollow claim that the IRS mess rests on Citizens United. The left was targeting conservative groups and donors well before the Supreme Court's 2010 ruling on independent political expenditures by corporations.

If the country wants to get to the bottom of the IRS scandal, it must first remember the context for this abuse. That context leads to this White House.

I've been going hard at this over the past week and believe me I'd like to stop, but they keep going back to the well. 

Conservative Media Seize On London Attack To Rail Against Immigration

May 24, 2013 - 1:26am

Fox News personalities have seized on the brutal killing of a soldier in London to rail against immigration, claiming that immigration policies are partly to blame for the attacks. Conservative media figures similarly used the Boston bombing to condemn immigration and undermine immigration reform.

British Soldier Killed In Brutal Attack In London

WSJ: Two Men Arrested For Killing Soldier In London. The Wall Street Journal reported:

The second man arrested on suspicion of murdering a British soldier near an army barracks here on Wednesday has been identified as 22-year-old Michael Adebowale, a British official confirmed, as antiterror police continued their investigation into the macabre attack.

As previously reported, Mr. Adebowale's alleged accomplice is 28-year-old Michael Adebolajo. Both are British citizens of Nigerian descent, according to people familiar with the matter.

Both men were arrested at the scene of Wednesday afternoon's daylight attack in Woolwich in southeast London on suspicion of murder. Witnesses at the scene described watching two men attack and kill a man--now identified as 25-year-old British soldier Lee Rigby --with knives and a meat cleaver. The two suspects, who were both shot by police at the scene, remain in the hospital where they are being treated for injuries and are in police custody. [The Wall Street Journal, 5/24/13]

Conservative Media Blame London Murder On Immigration Policies

Michelle Malkin Blamed "Lax Deportation Policies And An Unwillingness To Screen Out And Profile Islamic Militants" For Attack. On Hannity, Fox News contributor Michelle Malkin blamed the attack on what she claimed were "lax deportation policies" and the country's "unwillingness to screen out and profile Islamic militants":

MALKIN: [I]n large part, unfortunately, in British culture, among the progressives there, they brought it on themselves in some ways because of lax deportation policies, and an unwillingness to screen out and profile Islamic militants who are now doing this in a homegrown manner on British soil. It's tragic.


And the problem is that those kind[s] of PC policies, lax immigration policies, refusal to do Islamic militant profiling has yes, led to dead bodies in America and around the world. [Fox News, Hannity, 5/22/13]

Brian Kilmeade Suggested Loose Immigration Policies Were To Blame For Attack. On Fox & Friends, co-host Brian Kilmeade linked immigration to the attack, questioning why the suspected attackers were in London. He then stated: "I'd like to get a little bit tougher when it comes to our -- inquisitive when it comes to immigration." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 5/23/13]

Andrea Tantaros Claimed Europe's Open Immigration Policies Toward North African Countries Are A Factor In The Murder. Discussing the London attack on The Five, co-host Andrea Tantaros claimed that Europe's immigration policies toward North African countries have created "big problems" for the continent because younger North African immigrants "are more radical than their parents":

TANTAROS: When I lived in France, they -- and they have a similar problem with England, and so does Germany.


They came -- they emigrated -- these countries asked them to come to the country to work. They had an employment problem. A lot of these Muslims countries, Northern African countries, they emigrated to these countries, and now you have the younger generation that are more radical than their parents. And they have big problems on their hands because of immigration. [Fox News, The Five, 5/22/13]

Bob Beckel Linked London Terrorist Attack To Immigration. On The Five co-host Bob Beckel claimed the London attack was a direct result of Britain's immigration policies, saying it "is a product of the British allowing Muslims to come into their country." He added: "We better take a hard look at our immigration policy and the people we are allowing in here if they're going to come in here and preach hatred to us." Tantaros agreed, saying, "This is exactly how it started in Europe: Immigration":

BECKEL: I mean we better take a hard look at our immigration policy and the people we are allowing in here, if they're going to come in here and preach hatred to us or they're going to send their students here to get their best education and then they turn out to be radicals, then we have to ask ourselves a hard question, should we do it?


TANTAROS: I actually commend you Bob. I agree with you on the immigration point. This is exactly how it started in Europe. Immigration. Allowing them to come in carte blanche to European countries in the '60s, to allow them to work. They stayed, their kids are becoming radicalized. We are at risk of the same thing. [Fox News, The Five, 5/23/13]

Laura Ingraham: Terrorist Attack "Ties Into A Lot Of Issues" Such As "The Broadening Of Asylum, Here, For People From Islamic Countries." On her radio show, Fox News contributor Laura Ingraham tied the London terrorist attack to "the broadening of asylum, here, for people from Islamic countries," "the debate about political correctness," and "the debate about immigration." From Laura Ingraham's radio show:

INGRAHAM: So British problem with Islamism. Could we see that kind of problem develop here in the United States? Well if we're not careful - and I told my staff this yesterday. I wanted them, the guys to think about this, this issue ties into a lot of issues. It ties into the broadening of asylum, here, for people from Islamic countries, it ties into the debate about political correctness, it ties into the debate about immigration. It doesn't mean that everyone who is Muslim shouldn't - that no person who is Muslim shouldn't be able to come to the country. I'm not saying that. But it does inform our conversation about how we have to absolutely ensure that people who come to this country buy into the American value system. [Courtside Entertainment Group, The Laura Ingraham Show, 5/23/13]

Conservative Media Similarly Used Boston Bombing To Condemn Immigration

Mark Levin: "We Have To Put The Brakes On" Immigration Reform. On his radio show, frequent Fox guest Mark Levin concluded a discussion of the Boston attacks with a call to halt immigration reform, saying, "We need to put the brakes on this stuff right now." [Cumulus Media Networks, The Mark Levin Show, 4/19/13]

Fox News Contributor Laura Ingraham Claimed That Immigration Bill "Needs To Be Stopped." Fox News contributor Laura Ingraham said that there are "national security implications that we don't talk about with enough frankness" on the April 16 edition of her radio show, using the Boston attacks to stoke fears about immigration reform. Ingraham then claimed on April 22 that immigration legislation "[d]oesn't need to be delayed. It needs to be stopped." [Courtside Entertainment Group, The Laura Ingraham Show, 4/16/13, 4/22/13]

Ann Coulter: Boston Bombers Were "Unemployed Losers - The Kind Of Immigrant U.S. Welcomes." On the Friday following the attacks on Boston, Ann Coulter wrote on Twitter, "It's too bad Suspect # 1 won't be able to be legalized by Marco Rubio, now." She later tweeted: "Suspects' uncle of  says they were unemployed losers - the kind of immigrant U.S. welcomes! Danish surgeons: Sorry, no room," and "Our immigration policies are insane. Mass amnesty is not the solution." [Twitter, 4/19/13, 4/19/13, 4/19/13]

Should Jonathan Karl Reveal His Benghazi Email Source?

May 16, 2013 - 12:46pm

The controversy surrounding the editing of the administration's Benghazi talking points took an interesting turn on Monday when CNN's Jake Tapper reported that a newly obtained email from White House aide Ben Rhodes written during the editing of those talking points "differs from how sources inaccurately quoted and paraphrased it in previous accounts to different media organizations."

Tapper was referring, in part, to a May 10 report from ABC News' Jonathan Karl, who in that report claimed to be citing both administration "emails" and "summaries" of those emails, provided what appeared to be direct quotes from those emails, and said on air that he had "obtained" them. Karl reported the emails suggested the White House had been deeply involved in crafting a political response to the terror attack that occurred at the U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi September 11, where four Americans were killed. The ABC exclusive, accusing the administration of having "scrubbed" vital information from the talking points, ignited a controversy about the White House's handling of the attack.

Referring to the emails quoted in the ABC piece, Tapper stressed that, "Whoever provided those quotes and paraphrases did so inaccurately, seemingly inventing the notion that Rhodes wanted the concerns of the State Department specifically addressed."

(Both the Rhodes email and those of the State Department bolster testimony from then-CIA director David Petraeus noted, the talking points were changed to avoid interfering with the ongoing investigation into the perpetrators.)

As Media Matters noted, Karl responded by explaining that he had not actually reviewed the emails himself, but had been "quoting verbatim a source who reviewed the original documents and shared detailed notes." He added that the source "was not permitted to make copies of the original e-mails," indicating that Karl's original piece was based entirely on his source's summaries.

Karl insisted that the summaries represent an accurate take on the emails.

But the email obtained by CNN makes it clear that in at least one key instance Karl's source, who he quoted "verbatim," got the emails' contents wrong, leading to a misleading picture of the process by which the talking points were edited. 

Was that error accidental? It's hard to imagine how simply writing down the contents of an email could lead to such a glaring discrepancy. And the administration's release yesterday of roughly 100 pages of emails detailing the exchanges between administration aides around the creation of those talking points does even more to put out the fire that Karl helped to ignite. This raises the question of whether misinformation was passed along to Karl deliberately in order to create a political firestorm.

The revelation that the source passed along inaccurate summaries of the emails raises troubling questions for Karl and ABC News: Do Karl's bosses know who the source is who misled the reporter? And do other reporters at ABC News regularly use, and trust, the same source?

Another key question is whether Karl should reveal the source who misled him. While journalists take seriously the vow to not reveal the identity of confidential sources in exchange for the information that those sources provide, it's not unheard of for journalists to reveal source identities if it's proven that that person badly misled a reporter or passed along bogus information. Some observers think that's what happened in the case of the Benghazi talking points.  

CBS Evening News Highlights Collapse Of Right Wing Scandal Mongering Over Benghazi Talking Points

May 16, 2013 - 8:27am

From the May 16 edition of CBS' CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley:

SCOTT PELLEY: Also at his news conference today the president called for tighter security for U.S. diplomatic facilities to prevent an attack like the one in Benghazi, Libya, last year that killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. Of course, Benghazi has become a political controversy. Republicans claim that the Administration watered down the facts in talking points that were given to U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice for television appearances while Mr. Obama was running for reelection. Republicans on Capitol Hill claim that they had found proof of this in White House e-mails that they leaked to reporters last week. Well, it turns out some of the quotes in those e-mails were wrong. Major Garrett is at the White House for us tonight. Major?

MAJOR GARRETT: Scott, Republicans have claimed that the State Department under Hillary Clinton was trying to protect itself from criticism. The White House released the real e-mails late yesterday, and here's what we found when we compared them to the quotes that had been provided by Republicans. One e-mail was written by Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes.On Friday, Republicans leaked what they said was a quote from Rhodes. "We must make sure that the talking points reflect all agency equities, including those of the State Department, and we don't want to undermine the FBI investigation." But it turns out, in the actual e-mail Rhodes did not mention the State Department. It read "We need to resolve this in a way that respects all of the relevant equities, particularly the investigation." Republicans also provided what they said was a quote from an e-mail written by State Department Spokesman Victoria Nuland. The Republican version quotes Nuland discussing: "The penultimate point is a paragraph talking about all the previous warnings provided by the Agency about al-Qaeda's presence and activities of al-Qaeda." The actual e-mail from Nuland says: the "...penultimate point could be abused by Members to beat the State Department for not paying attention to Agency warnings..." The C.I.A. agreed with the concerns raised by the State Department and revised the talking points to make them less specific than the C.I.A.'s original version, eliminating references to al-Qaeda and affiliates and earlier security warnings. There is no evidence, Scott, the White House orchestrated these changes.

Pelly: Major, thank you.


Media Observers on ABC's Jonathan Karl Benghazi Talking Points Story: "Sloppy" And "Inaccurate"

What ABC And The Weekly Standard Got Wrong On The Benghazi Emails

Should Jonathan Karl Reveal His Benghazi Email Source?

Dr. Radut