Wednesday, July 18, 2012

REPORT: Fox News Spends Two-Plus Hours Distorting Obama's Small Business Comments


JUSTIN BERRIER, MELODY JOHNSON, ANDY NEWBOLD, & CHELSEA RUDMAN/Media MAtters for America:

Over two days, Fox News spent 42 segments and more than two hours of airtime manufacturing a scandal by deceptively editing comments President Obama made at a campaign appearance in Virginia.  
On July 13, Obama made the unremarkable observation that business owners do not achieve success in a vacuum, but that public infrastructure - such as roads, schools, and fire departments - create a community that supports businesses:
OBAMA: If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life.  Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you've got a business -- you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn't get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet. 
The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together. There are some things, just like fighting fires, we don't do on our own. I mean, imagine if everybody had their own fire service. That would be a hard way to organize fighting fires. 
Media conservatives have distorted those comments to accuse the president of expressing hostility toward business.
In discussing the speech relentlessly in the past 2 days, Fox has fixated on the passage where Obama said, "If you've got a business, you didn't build that." But Fox ignores what Obama was talking about before saying "you didn't build that," when he touted "this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive," and said: "Somebody invested in those roads and bridges."
Fox's manufactured controversy has now become the focus of an official Mitt Romney campaign ad.

Fox Devotes More Than Two Hours And 42 Segments To Manufactured Controversy

Fox's campaign began during the July 16 edition of Fox & Friends, where Obama's comments were edited to make it seem as though Obama said small business owners do not deserve any credit for their own success. The edited clip featured the following two lines:
OBAMA: If you've got a business, you didn't build that, somebody else made that happen.
[...]
The point is that, when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together.
Co-host Gretchen Carlson called the heavily edited clip "most startling." 
Media Matters monitored Fox's coverage of Obama's comments on July 16 and July 17, and found that Fox News devoted 2 hours and 19 minutes to covering the controversy -- one largely manufactured by the network itself. The coverage culminated with Fox's afternoon and primetime lineup on July 17, with Your World with Neil Cavuto, The Five, Special Report, The O'Reilly Factor, Hannity, and On the Record with Greta Van Susterencontributing 1 hour and 5 minutes to the story.
Two prime-time shows, Hannity and On the Record with Greta Van Susteren, devoted a total of more than 15 minutes to the story on July 17. The O'Reilly Factor similarly devoted more than 14 minutes.
Including teases that perpetuated Fox's distorted portrayal of Obama's comments, Fox News dedicated 42 individual segments to the story over the course of two days. Fox & Friends alone ran nine segments in two days, while the "straight news" program America's Newsroom covered the story six times, inviting guests such as Fox Business host Stuart Varney, Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY), and Donald Trump to attack Obama.

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