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Many on the political left in the United States routinely claim that Fox News and its contributors distort current events by, essentially, serving as propagandists for conservative office holders, candidates and causes.
That war of words appears to be doing but getting hotter as the 2014 general election draws closer.
PolitiFact Oregon is devoting today’s roundup to the five most recent PolitiFact checks of claims made on Fox News. We’re not saying the outcome is anywhere near scientific, but many watching this political tug-of-war play out on a daily basis may find the results interesting.
1. A case of intentionally misleading viewer?
One Internet meme now making the rounds asserts that "Faux News" – the derisive name some apply to the network – not only admits its airs false news, but says it has a legal right to do so.
As it turns out, the meme tracks back not to the national cable network, but to a wrongful termination lawsuit between a Tampa, Fla., Fox affiliate and two reporters. PunditFact’s check "found no evidence that the Fox affiliate admitted that it lied about the news it ultimately" presented. The claim was rated False.
2. Beckel (wrongly) takes on the U.S. tax code
America’s tax code is famously complex, but does the U.S. really have more corporate-tax deductions than any other country? Fox News’ Bob Beckel made just that claim during a discussion of corporate taxes with co-host Eric Bolling.
"Counting and comparing deductions internationally isn’t practical," PunditFact found, "and the only plausible alternative – estimating the gap between the nations’ statutory and effective tax rates – shows that the gap in the United States is about average among advanced, industrialized countries." Beckel walked away with a False for his troubles.
3. Bolling follows up with some corporate correctness
Following up on Beckel’s claim, co-host Bolling asserted that, when it comes to tax codes, "we have the highest corporate tax rate in the free world."
Bolling, according to the check, was referring to the statutory rate, meaning the rate before deductions. On that score, he’s correct. Once deductions are taken into account, however, the rate doesn’t appear to be the highest. Because his statement is accurate but needs clarification or additional information, his claim was rated Mostly True.
Fox News commentators are locked in an ongoing verbal joust with Al Sharpton, a host on its left-leaning rival, MSNBC. Megyn Kelly took up the fight recently, saying that when Sharpton went to Ferguson, Mo., after local resident Michael Brown was shot and killed by a local police officer, Sharpton was "declaring as a matter of fact that…Michael Brown didn’t use any deadly force or posed no deadly threat to the officer."
PunditFact determined that, while Sharpton’s declaration was worded a little differently than that, Kelly’s statement was nonetheless accurate. Her claim was rated True.
5. Juan Williams nails a dreadful statistic
Fox pundit Juan Williams picked up the Ferguson, Mo., thread not long ago when he said, "No. 1 causes of death, young black men 15 to 34 – murder. Who’s committing the murder? Not police. Other black men."
Federal statistics support the claim, the check found. "Out of all causes of death, homicide claimed about 40 percent of black lives between 15 and 34 years. This was significantly higher than the national average for males of that age group, and all other racial groups." Williams’ claim was rated True.
So if recent PolitiFact history is any indicator, claims made on Fox News are right far more often than not. Today’s selection is anecdotal, of course, and likely won’t move the ongoing debate about Fox even a whit. Still, it gives us a place to start talking, doesn’t it? Comments? Leave ‘em here.
-- Dana Tims