When challenged over its claim to be "fair & balanced," top Fox brass countered that their "opinion" shows are not subject to the Fox descriptor on the Fox logo; but their official "news" shows are the essence of fairness and balance. As we know from watching some of these "news" shows, that is either a lie or a serious delusion. The ludicrousness of their assertion was recently underscored during alleged news host Bret Baier's coverage of the Gosnell trial during which he and his panel took a page straight out of the anti-choice propaganda playbook by condemning late term abortion as "murder" and bringing up the discredited lie that then Sen. Obama's opposition to the Illinois "born-alive" bill was tantamount to support for infanticide. And to reinforce the lie, it was repeated during another Baier segment which pimped more anti-choice agitprop about Obama's address to Planned Parenthood.
Two weeks ago, Baier immediately responded to anti-choice hysteria about how the media wasn't covering the Gosnell trial. Despite the fact that Fox was part of that lack of coverage, Baier wasted no time in lying about lack of coverage on the part of the media and women's groups. Right wing partisan Jonah Goldberg lied when he claimed that because Obama didn't support the Illinois "born alive" act (the state already had one and the bill, pushed by the anti-choice lobby would have outlawed abortion in the state as well as force doctors to attempt to revive non-viable fetuses), he was supporting what was allegedly happening at Gosnell's clinic.
Flash forward to last week's Special Report discussion about Obama's address to Planned Parenthood. This was a topic that was all the "rage" in the anti-choice community who were upset that the president would be speaking to this "baby killing" organization during the Gosnell trial. Naturally, as the mouthpiece for an American extremist movement that seeks to turn back time for American women, Fox advanced the anti-choice meme that conflates Planned Parenthood's safe and legal abortions with Gosnell whose types of abortions were, according to the meme, supported by the president.
Baier led off with the "gotcha" video of a Florida Planned Parenthood lobbyist whose response to a question about the Florida born-alive bill was a cause celebre in the anti-choice community and used on several other Fox programs. Baier did not mention that Planned Parenthood issued a statement supporting efforts to revive children who are "born alive." (A very rare occurance). Baier "explained" that the clip was about Planned Parenthood and that the president was scheduled to speak before the group and "all of this comes in the context of the Gosnell trial."
AB Stoddard, from "The Hill," promoted the anti-choice meme that the head of the Philadelphia PP knew about Gosnell but didn't report him. Fox hack Charles Krauthammer referenced the Florida clip to support his lie that PP supported not assisting children born alive. Despite the fact that Gosnell is innocent until proven guilty, Krauthammer accused him of committing infanticide. He then advanced the anti-choice Obama/infanticide agitprop by saying that Obama voted "three times against making it a crime to kill or allow to die a child born after an abortion. So this is not something that he is not in some way approving of, and I think it's a damming thing for him and for the whole administration." "Fair & balanced" Baier made no attempt to provide the reasons for Obama's vote.
Weekly Standard hack Steve Hayes advanced more anti-choice agitprop in saying that even a pro-choice president should show "shock, disgust, and outrage" over Gosnell. He reinforced the anti-choice propaganda and Fox message for the piece that "because the president had voted the way that he did back when he was in the Illinois legislature, it's a very difficult argument for the president to make that at this point, this is as horrifying as it is I think to pretty much everybody in the country."
Bret Baier's signature phrase is "fair, balanced, and unafraid." How bout unfair, unbalanced, and unabashed propaganda. Ya think?!
But my research normally consists of reading a series of articles about a subject, going to the source whenever possible, and when all else fails, running a google search and then reading what comes up. I dare say that this is research that anyone could do.
Regarding Mr. Lair’s statements, they are preserved here in the record. Nobody put words in his mouth – he happily made a series of incorrect statements and was apparently unhappy to be corrected on them. It’s extremely strange that he wants to take a position that he did not make the statements he made. He’s assuming that people can’t simply scroll down the page and read those statements for themselves. But no matter.
Regarding his following of the Kermit Gosnell matter, I would ask if he first heard about it on March 23rd 2013 or in March of 2011. You see, this was a story in January 2011, at which time it was covered by most media outlets, including 33 minutes of airtime on CNN. But suddenly the right wing media decided it was an “uncovered” story in 2013. It sounds like Mr. Lair may have assumed that the right wing talking point we’ve been hearing over the last month is somehow the unvarnished truth. The strange thing is that it would have only taken him a google search and about five seconds to realize that this wasn’t the case.
I don’t believe it’s condescending to point out if someone has not been carefully reading the record. We’ve discussed these matters at length here and it would appear that Mr. Lair hasn’t spent much time going over the material. If he has, I’m not sure how he could come up with the conclusions he has stated. It is not condescension to ask someone to please take some time to research a matter, particularly after that person has already admitted to posting opinions without knowing if they are grounded – such as stating that Bret Baier’s news program is not news.
The Gosnell case isn’t a matter of just being unsanitary. He was performing dangerous procedures, which resulted in the death of one of his patients (which is what really brought the situation to a head). As I understand it, he didn’t even have a license to do what would have been the safe procedures. He was bilking poor women who didn’t know what their options were – taking their money to perform what were clearly dangerous and horrifying procedures. The issue was and is that he was able to get away with doing this to these women, which points out that women’s health choices continue to be dictated by relative levels of wealth and resources. In the right wing ideal event of all women being told they don’t have a right to choose, situations like Gosnell’s would become a lot more common. As it is, this kind of thing is extremely, extremely rare.
As for the other clinics, I’m still waiting to hear about what they were and what the real allegations are. Mr. Lair seems to be saying that this was the same kind of thing as Gosnell’s operation, but he refuses to provide any specifics. Which has been the right wing talking point about this story from the beginning. The right wing pundits have ignored the issue of the health of the women in favor of just trying to hold up Gosnell’s operation as somehow typical. At least Bill Handel at right wing KFI in Los Angeles debunked that one last week. Mr. Lair doesn’t seem to have caught up to that thinking yet.
And as we’ve clearly established here, there was no “Media Blackout” about Gosnell or the attempted gotcha at Alisa LaPolt Snow. The former story was extensively covered in 2011 and will get the cursory wrap up when the verdict is announced. The latter story was a non-issue that right wing pundits panicked about when Snow didn’t fall into their trap. The story was mentioned, but properly noted as being the product of a GOP attempt to pin her down in a ridiculous manner. Just as the Illinois state house vote was a ridiculous and frantic attempt by the GOP there to smear the Democrats. Neither attempt worked, and it’s clear that the pundits are upset about it. But it’s hard to know what would make those pundits happy.
Again, one has to ask whether Mr. Lair has actually read the materials on any of these matters or if he is exclusively relying on right wing talking points. It might help his understanding if he took a minute to study the issue before deciding how he felt about it.
Further, Mr. Lair doesn’t seem to have actually watched Alisa LaPolt Snow’s full testimony or checked the background of Florida House Bill 759, as we already did here at length. Cherry picking Marc Thiessen (or Sean Hannity’s) misleading edit of one line of her testimony does not constitute a real understanding of what’s going on here. This is a very serious discussion, and trying to take one sentence of it out of context and without any knowledge of who was asking the questions and why is to demean both the subject and the very real people who could have been affected by HB 759. It’s truly a shame that Mr. Lair seems not to understand this.
Once again, this is a matter of Mr. Lair simply not knowing what he’s talking about. He really does need to do some reading on this subject.
The link is not to an article but an inaccurate right wing opinion column. And Alisa LaPolt Snow never said anything of the kind that Marc Thiessen or Mr. Lair is incorrectly alleging. Further, as we’ve already established, then State Senator Obama did not reject legislation protecting newborns. He rejected harsh right wing legislation that was duplicative of laws already existing to protect a fetus that survived an abortion procedure. The difference with the “gotcha” legislation that didn’t pass was that it was designed to effectively outlaw abortion while pretending they were just trying to protect newborns.
And as Mr. Lair seems confused about these issues, we should clarify for him that we already have laws and medical standards that provide for the welfare of fetuses that survive an abortion procedure. Doctors are already obligated to provide every measure of care that they can, and they already do this. Of course, in the event of a fetus surviving, doctors will testify that while they do everything they can, the fetus normally does not survive for more than a very short period of time. Most of the time, this is due to the fact that legal abortions are done before the fetus has developed very far. And in the very rare late term instances, this is due to the fact that the fetus was already in serious condition and was likely not viable anyway. Mr. Lair seems to be under the impression that such a fetus is the same thing as a fully developed baby being born. He may never have heard of such a thing as an anencephalic baby, but doctors who actually do this for a living certainly have. Mr. Lair would be better advised to do some actual reading on this subject and educate himself.
But just to add humor to the proceedings, Lair throws in a link to not an article but a wildly inaccurate opinion piece written by Marc Thiessen, a former speechwriter for George W. Bush and Donald Rumsfeld. Reading this opinion column, which diverges radically from the real situations Thiessen is dismissing, one gets the same discredited and debunked material we have already exposed here. Once again, Thiessen cherry picks the soundbites of Alisa LaPolt Snow’s appearance in the Florida State House, but he forgets to note what was actually happening. (As we’ve established, Snow was correctly and patiently opposing an extreme right wing GOP bill that would have no real effect on abortion procedures other than to shame the woman in the procedure and to try to hold the doctor to a potentially unattainable standard. The soundbites always come from the attempted “gotcha” by the GOP Florida house members and forget that Snow deftly avoided them.)
Thiessen brings up the Gosnell story but forgets that this was discussed at length in 2011, when it was news, and neglects to discuss the actual point of the Gosnell story – that this was a case not of an abortion clinic helping women with a difficult situation but instead a man who was preying on poor and uninformed women by performing dangerous and illegal procedures. If Thiessen were to have his way, the very rare case of situations like Gosnell’s would become much more common.
Thiessen wraps up with a happy description of the anti-choice movie October Baby and asks the ridiculous rhetorical question about what happens during the very rare late term procedures when a fetus somehow survives an abortion. He forgets that we already have laws that address this improbable situation and just tries to rile up his readers’ outrage at the inhumanity of it all. Except that he’s blowing hot air. Nobody has a procedure like this done unless the mother and/or child is in such dire straits that there is no alternative. Doctors don’t do things like this just because they feel like it, and anti-choice activists are well aware of this. But they’d like to chip away at the very notion of abortion and this is just the latest wedge they’re trying to jam in the door.
One has to wonder whether Lair actually read Thiessen’s piece or if he just saw that it was posted at Washington Post and assumed it was factual.
but it’s their flagship evening news show. If you don’t know that, it’s hard to believe you know much about Fox.
You might want to think twice before you call anyone else ignorant.
Strangely, he tries to discuss what Fox News admits about its programming – when Bill O’Reilly has only acknowledged Sean Hannity’s conservative lean as per the normal Fox News talking point about this.
Stranger still, he is unable to cite any of the facts he was asked to discuss but instead resorts to shouting as a form of obfuscation. Very odd, indeed.
Not sure what that means in the light of his other statements, which are almost completely false.
The fact that Baier had no problem using the discredited and debunked Florida house footage with Alisa LaPolt Snow deflecting gotcha questions from GOP state house members is a clear indication of which way he and the broadcast were leaning. The fact that Baier didn’t correct Goldberg on his untrue statements is another indication.
The fact is that both Snow and President Obama have at multiple times in their careers avoided being caught in “gotcha” pitfalls that the GOP have carefully tried to snare them in. There are multiple insidious attempts we’ve seen done even on Fox News on various shows. The anti-choice pundits have tried to trap Democrats into saying that fetuses are babies or infants, health care supporters into saying that an abortion is somehow automatically infanticide, and they’ve tried to set up false dilemmas regarding when abortions can be peformed. The various state house measures taken around the country are absolutely not about protecting the lives of infants, since we already have plenty of laws doing so. Those measures, including the ridiculous ones batted away by then State Senator Obama, are actually about allowing the right wing to chip away at women’s rights or eliminate outright the right a woman has to choose. Thankfully, there are plenty of smart politicians who don’t fall for the ruse. And then of course, the GOP responds by trying to smear them. It’s all pretty despicable behavior, and the GOP doesn’t seem to be learning its lesson.
As for the poster throwing up various untruths about the issue, I’d challenge such a person to actually respond to the issues here. Don’t hide behind the usual right wing talking points and insults. If you think you have a case to make about the Gosnell trial (which is not about abortion but instead about a doctor taking advantage of poor and uninformed women), or about late term abortion, please state what facts on which you’re making these claims. And please show what woman would want to go into a legitimate abortion clinic to have a late term procedure, who didn’t have a real medical need to do so. I don’t think the poster will be able to provide any such example, because those procedures are only done when there’s a real dire situation. And in that case, the poster would be arguing for the life of the fetus over the life of the mother. Which would make such a position effectively anti-life, wouldn’t it?