Written by Melinda Warner, a Media Matters blogger
As Fox News celebrates its 15th anniversary, Media Matters looks back on 15 of the network’s most outlandish smears since 2004.
Fox News: Kerry Just Loves His Manicures. Loves them!
On October 1, 2004, Fox chief political correspondent Carl Cameron wrote a fake news story about Sen. John Kerry receiving a manicure before a debate and included false quotes like “‘Didn’t my nails and cuticles look great? What a good debate!‘ Kerry said Friday” and “‘Women should like me! I do manicures,’ Kerry said.” The network subsequently issued a retraction and an apology. But this “stupid mistake” was not the only time Fox ridiculed Sen. Kerry for run-of-the-mill, pre-television appearance personal maintenance. Brit Hume, Bill O’Reilly, Pat Caddell, and others all similarly took the opportunity to mock Kerry following the debate.
Fox News: Scientists Are Liars.
Fox News hasn’t let the fact that 97 percent of the world’s climate scientists agree that global warming is occurring and that human activity is very likely to blame stop them in their quest to make sure their viewers think science, facts, and reality are figments of the left’s collective imagination. No, no, no. Scientists are liars, obviously, and global warming can be linked to naturally occurring phenomena. Like moon volcanoes.
Following the 2009 release of hacked emails from the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, Fox repeatedly claimed that the emails showed scientists “fudging data to make their case for global warming.” The allegation was unfounded at the time and was later shown to be false by numerous inquiries. Undaunted, Fox has continued to push this mythology ever since.
But Fox wasn’t content to restrict the “scientists are liars” message to the University of East Anglia. Following the lead of the Heartland Institute, Fox News trumpeted the utterly baseless claim that scientists at the University of Colorado are “doctoring” sea level data to “exaggerate the effects of global warming.” In reality, the scientists used a standard and transparent procedure performed by other research groups around the world, and even the climate skeptic cited by Fox News objects to the implication that the group engaged in scientific wrongdoing.
Fox News: Democrats Want To Kill You!
Desperate to find something, anything with which to defeat Democrat’s health care bill (because ensuring all Americans have access to quality, affordable health care is not a Fox News priority), Fox News was eager to peddle the nonsense that the bill contained a provision that elderly and sick people would face down “death panels” before obtaining approval for care. Never mind that the “death panel” provision was actually something the congressional Republicans had previously supported and was uncontroversial on its face – it simply lets Medicare reimburse patients who want to talk to their doctors about end-of life planning. No, don’t mind that.
Fox News’ O’Reilly: Arianna Huffington = KKK = Nazis
In 2008, Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly got himself very worked up over some reader comments on The Huffington Post. Following an article reporting on a fall that sent Nancy Reagan to the hospital, some readers posted tacky, hateful comments on the piece; O’Reilly read one that said “Like her evil husband, she has lived far too long. Here’s hoping she dies in the tub.” Because the site’s editor, Ariana Huffington, did not delete the comments, O’Reilly decided that made her the same as two of the most evil groups to walk the earth, saying on air:
“You know, what’s the difference between the Ku Klux Klan and Arianna Huffington? What’s the difference?”
“I don’t see any difference between Huffington and the Nazis.”
As disgusting as this instance is, it is not unheard of for Fox News personalities to invoke the two groups to describe progressives or progressive ideals. O’Reilly frequently likens those he disagrees with to Nazis and the KKK including Daily Kos, Michael Moore, and Al Franken.
Fox News: We Gave Them Arizona And They Set It On Fire!
The national debate over immigration has become increasingly more absurd on Fox News. In 2010, Fox News reported that the Obama Administration gave a “major strip of AZ to Mexico.” The Fish and Wildlife Service quickly debunked the claim with the facts that the small area was off limits to the public while security measures were improved.
Then in 2011, Fox News ran with the rumor that a tragic Arizona wildfire had been set by undocumented immigrants. First brought to national attention by Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), Fox personalities kept the story alive even though there were few facts to support the claim. Two American citizens were found to have allegedly left a campfire unattended and causing the resulting fire.
Photo from Gage Skidmore via flickr creative commons
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