Last week, there was one legitimate criticism of my column. Just one. I should have included lies and conservative commentary made by FOX News’ straight news anchors as well as lies made by their pundits. I thought I’d go ahead and correct that mistake this week, using facts I found on the Media Matters Web site.
We’ll start with the morning news program: “FOX & Friends.” On Oct. 22, this straight news program used a Republican National Committee (RNC) press release about the job losses in September, with the large heading “$787B=2 mil less jobs.” Underneath that heading read “Stimulus generates unemployment.”
Gretchen Carlson, an anchor on this so-called straight news program spoke about the RNC document comparing the Obama administration’s numbers with the job losses as if it were fact.
“This is a startling table, to actually look at it in its entirety and realize that that many states have not gained jobs,” she said. “The promise from the Obama administration from the first stimulus plan was that 3.5 million jobs would be created. And, in fact, the United States has lost 2.7 million since the stimulus plan.”
According to Media Matters, the RNC press release states “while President Obama claimed the result of his stimulus bill would be the creation of 3.5 million jobs, the Nation has already lost a total of 2.7 million — a difference of 6.2 million jobs.”
However, the January administration report referenced by the RNC press release states that “Because it takes time to carry out new spending programs authorized by legislation, we expect the jobs created by spending on infrastructure, education, health, and energy to be concentrated in 2010 or 2011.”
So the RNC press release made a negative declaration about the stimulus package that simply can’t be substantiated by their source document. And FOX News’ straight news program, “FOX & Friends,” used the information without fact checking it.
As a straight news organization, there’s also a significant ethical violation in the fact that they’re using an RNC document — which is bound to be biased — as a source for facts, instead of questioning the RNC about the document as a straight news program normally would.
Another issue discussed by both Glenn Beck and Chris Wallace recently is president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Tom Donahue’s plans to release ads reminding the American public about how America was built through free-market capitalism.
According to Media Matters, Glenn Beck said that “Obama and his cronies don’t like the free-market system.” Beck also added that the Obama administration is attacking the Chamber of Commerce, which he repeatedly said “represents 3 million businesses.”
Straight news anchor Chris Wallace repeated Beck’s claim days later saying that the White House is attacking the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and also that the Chamber of Commerce represents 3 million businesses.
That statistic is false, according to Mother Jones’ Josh Hartkinson. He wrote in his article, “The Chamber’s Numbers Game,” that the Chamber has “probably closer to 200,000” dues-paying members. They are loosely affiliated with around 3 million businesses, but they do not represent 3 million businesses.
And the huge negative impact of FOX misconstruing facts can be seen clearly when you look at the opinions of their viewers. According to an August NBC poll, 75 percent of FOX News watchers believed that the public option would lead to the government dictating care for the elderly, even though it has been clearly stated that the public option will not lead to these so-called death panels. Only 45 percent of all people polled believed that public option will lead to death panels.
That 30 percent difference is why I believe that FOX should be discredited as a news organization. Facts and truth are too important for our representative democracy for us to allow this issue to fizzle out of public consciousness.
Stephanie England is an English senior and Mustang Daily political columnist.