This fixation has migrated from the fringe of the fringe over on Breitbart.com, which shamed itself in July with headlines announcing that border officials had found a “Muslim prayer rug” at the Arizona border that turned out to be an Adidas soccer jersey. In August, Breitbart protégé James O’Keefe, the goofball behind the ACORN sting and other dumb stunts to entrap evil liberals, snuck across the border in an ludicrous Osama bin Laden costume, to “prove” America’s worst enemy could penetrate our weak southern flank, even though he’s dead.
If you heard about O’Keefe’s stunt, you probably chuckled darkly (especially if you saw photos.) You chuckled, that is, unless you’re Sen. John McCain. If you’re Sen. John McCain, you used O’Keefe’s stunt to browbeat a top Homeland Security official, Francis Taylor, at last week’s Senate hearing about the ISIS threat.
When Taylor insisted officials “have the intelligence and the capability at our border” to block terrorists from crossing, McCain shot back: “Well you know it’s interesting because a American reporter named James O’Keefe dressed as Osama bin Laden walked across the border at the Rio Grande river undetected. Does something like that concern you?” Taylor said O’Keefe was not “undetected,” and that border officials saw him and his crew, but McCain wasn’t satisfied.
Now it’s a full-blown panic. The Drudge Report’s top headline hypes “ISIS at the border?” even though the New York Times story it links to explains how the U.S. is working hard to debunk this conspiracy, though it can’t work faster than Fox News is hyping it.
This was such a pure and indisputable case of journalistic malpractice and deceit. I mean, NPR radically misled millions of people with this report. To sit there and present this firm as though it’s some independent big data company, as she called it, that just listened to news reports, heard this claim that Snowden had helped the terrorists and then set out earnestly to investigated it, without telling their listeners what they—Dina Temple-Raston herself knew, because she had reported two years earlier that the CIA itself had invested millions of dollars in this company, that the investment arm of the CIA, In-Q-Tel, sits on the board of this company and that the researcher on whom they relied himself is the head of a company in a strategic partnership with the CIA, that is about as journalistically indefensible as it gets. She misled NPR’s listeners into believing that this was some independent, credible source, rather than what it is, which is a government-loyal firm. And that’s to say nothing of the huge numbers of fallacies in the report itself. They gave Bruce Schneier 42 seconds at the end of the story, in two sentences, more or less, to say, “Here are a couple questions I’d have about this report,” but the first three-and-a-half minutes were as Dina Temple-Raston uncritically and mindlessly summarizing the report. It’s press release journalism on behalf of the Pentagon that she covers. And it’s the reason that the U.S. media has collapsed in terms of the trust and esteem with which the American public holds them.
Fox has replaced the Sunday massacre with older stories about the Bergdahl prisoner swap, the Veterans Administration, and Hillary Clinton’s book release and presidential aspirations. The producers and editors at Fox News have never been shy about reporting acts of alleged terrorism, even before any evidence has emerged. But for this story they have refused to even refer to the crime as terrorism.
There are some obvious reasons why Fox would skew their reporting and ultimately remove this story from their news coverage. And all of them represent biases that are a long-standing part of what can be called the Fox News Creed: Racism, Guns, Anti-Government, and Tea Party.
First of all, the perpetrators are not who Fox’s racist producers typically profile as terrorists. Rather than being brown-skinned, Muslim, foreigners, the Millers are white Christians from Indiana. So not only would it run counter to Fox’s philosophy to implicate the Millers in terrorism, it would offend their 90% white, right-wing audience.
Secondly, the issue raises concerns about access to dangerous firearms. The NRA constituency at Fox is loathe to focus on such events that make the public uncomfortable with the wild west society that is favored by the gun fetishists and right-wingers who program and watch the network. Fox avoids or downplays most stories about gun violence, but jumps on any report that they can frame as an Obama attempt to repeal the Second Amendment.
Thirdly, Fox is well known for promoting some of the very same political ideologies as the Millers. They have featured guests who advocate secession from the United States, as well as armed resistance to federal law and authorities. An example of that is the recent Cliven Bundy affair where Jerad Miller just happened to show up threatening to use "the language of violence" against representatives of the Bureau of Land Management. Fox has also hyped Republican leaders, like Texas governor Rick Perry, who have made public statements that come just short of declaring secession.
Finally, the Millers’ association with Tea Party groups is something that Fox will work vigorously to excise from the public discourse. The Millers were supporters of the biggest Koch brothers-bankrolled Tea Party organizations (Americans for Prosperity and FreedomWorks), and openly espoused their anti-government views. It was only a matter of time before people who came to rallies with signs that said "We Came Unarmed - THIS TIME," would keep their promise of violence. Of course, Fox News also supports the same groups and views, and has been instrumental in creating and promoting the Tea Party. In fact, there would be no Tea Party without Fox News. Consequently, Fox is not going to risk alienating such a critical part of their audience.
So why haven’t the center-to-left organized boycotts of Fox News advertisers?
Fox News contributor Richard Grenell and his public relations firm have been coordinating interviews for soldiers criticizing the actions of recently-released Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl.
Those critics have said that Bergdahl, who had been imprisoned by the Taliban since 2009, risked the lives of soldiers who tried to find him after he reportedly walked off his Afghanistan base.
Several media outlets have reported on these soldiers and their concerns, including Fox News, The New York Times, Time, The Los Angeles Times, The Daily Mail, and The Daily Beast. According to a report in Buzzfeed, Fox News contributor Richard Grenell and his firm Capitol Media have “played a key role in publicizing” these critics.
Grenell served as a spokesman for former U.N. ambassador (and current Fox News contributor) John Bolton in the George W. Bush administration, and also worked for a short time on the Romney 2012 campaign.
The New York Times reported on June 2 that “Republican strategists” arranged for the paper to interview soldiers who served with Bergdahl and have animosity towards him because they believe he is a deserter.
One of the soldiers quoted in the article, Cody Full, sent out a tweet thanking Grenell “for helping get our platoon’s story out.”
Buzzfeed reported that Grenell’s partner at his firm, Brad Chase, confirmed that they were behind the public relations campaign (Grenell also sent out a tweet explaining his firm offered “pro bono services” to the soldiers). Chase disputed the Times’ characterization of his firm as “Republican strategists” because he is not a Republican.
But a radio producer who booked one of the soldiers told Buzzfeed that Grenell was their point of contact for the appearance. Two other reporters confirmed to Media Matters that Grenell put them in contact with the soldiers.
David Zucchino of the Los Angeles Times, who posted an article late Monday quoting Bergdahl’s critics, said he had reached out to Grenell, who personally helped him contact Evan Buetow, a member of Bergdahl’s platoon.
The New York Times' Helene Cooper, whose article identified the source of her interview subjects as “Republican strategists,” said she was contacted on Sunday with information on former platoonmates of Bergdahl who wanted to talk to the paper.
…the false narrative surrounding Iran has been built around this central, core notion that Iran can’t be trusted because they’ve been practicing nuclear deceit for almost three decades. And, you know, that’s based on a whole series of episodes which have been related in a way that simply falsifies the real history. I won’t go into the details, but I just want to point out that there is a false narrative that is built around that central notion.
And in this case, the idea that Iran is being deceptive in some fashion that indicates that it is trying to get nuclear weapons simply doesn’t hold up. It doesn’t pass the laugh test. I mean, of course Iran is going to do whatever it has to in order to get materials for its nuclear program. The United States is trying to prevent it from doing so. It has for the last 30 years. And Iran does not accept the right of the United States—indeed, the United States has no right under international law—to have prevented Iran from getting the material necessary for its peaceful nuclear program.
So what the Iranians are accused of doing is, of course, simply not evidence at all of any dishonesty that has to do with their intentions in terms of the nuclear program. It simply means that they’re doing whatever’s necessary to get around restrictions that the United States and its allies have been placing on there ability to procure this material.