Off The Rails: The Year In Fox News Misinformation
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As the year comes to a close, Media Matters offers a month-by-month look back at Fox News' most outrageous and factually challenged moments of 2010.
Hume Counsels Tiger Woods To Ditch Buddhism To "Make A Total Recovery." On the January 3 edition of Fox News Sunday, Brit Hume commented on the scandal surrounding golfer Tiger Woods: "He is said to be a Buddhist. I don't think that faith offers the kind of forgiveness and redemption offered by the Christian faith. So my message to Tiger would be, 'Tiger, turn your faith -- turn to the Christian faith, and you can make a total recovery and be a great example to the world.' " Hume's attack on Buddhism was criticized by religious leaders, but endorsed by Hume's Fox News colleagues Tucker Carlson and Fred Barnes. Hume stood by his comments despite the criticism.
Fox Hires Palin As A Contributor. On January 11, The New York Times reported that Fox News had hired former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as a contributor who "would appear on the network's programming on a regular basis as part of a multiyear deal." Her well-established record of pushing falsehoods notwithstanding, Palin said that she would provide "the fair and the balanced reporting and analysis that voters in this country deserve." One of her first Fox News appearances was an hour-long interview with Glenn Beck on January 13 in which the two misled on the Federal Reserve, and Beck read to Palin from his diary.
Fox Campaigns For Scott Brown. In the run-up to the January 19 special Senate election in Massachusetts, Fox News hosted Republican candidate Scott Brown several times for softball interviews and provided a forum for Brown to raise funds. Fox News personalities like Dick Morris made explicit appeals on Brown's behalf, telling viewers to "please, please help" Brown. Stuart Varney claimed that "your 401(k) could do well" in response to a Brown victory, and Bret Baier compared Brown's candidacy to the "Miracle on Ice."
Fox Campaign Season Heats Up. Following Scott Brown's victory in Massachusetts, Fox began promoting more Republican Senate candidates, like Illinois' Mark Kirk and Florida's Marco Rubio. Several Fox News personalities likened Kirk to Brown; Fox repeatedly aired a National Republican Senatorial Committee attack ad on Kirk's Democratic opponent, Alexi Giannoulias; and the network gave Kirk a platform to attack Giannoulias. Fox also heavily promoted "political star" Rubio, reporting extensively on his fundraising appeals and speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference. On the February 1 edition of Hannity, Dick Morris solicited GOP candidatesfor Senate, which precipitated Republican Ron Johnson's campaign in Wisconsin.
Fearmongering Over Health Care Reconciliation. Reacting to reports that Senate Democrats were considering using the budget reconciliation process to pass the health care reform bill and circumvent a Republican filibuster, Fox News adopted the GOP framing of reconciliation as a violation of Senate rules, undemocratic, and contrary to the will of the people. Fox also falsely characterized reconciliation as the " nuclear option" to wrongly accuse Democrats of hypocrisy.
Open Activism Against Health Care Reform. As the health care reform bill moved toward passage, Fox News' opinion and news personalities engaged in open opposition to the bill. Fox news anchors agreed that the bill was unconstitutional and said they would vote against it, while the network's opinion-makers lobbied for the bill's defeat. Commentators like Dick Morris, Glenn Beck, and Mike Huckabee encouraged viewers to contact members of Congress and urge them to oppose the bill, and the network helped to publicize anti-health reform rallies.