Apr 28, 2021

After Canceling Over 500,000 Lives With Covid19 Misinformation, Republicans Focus On Fake News Of Biden Cancelling Beef (From Fox News) To Get Outraged About


1. After Helping To Cancel 500,000 Lives With Coronavirus Misinformation, Fox News Conservatives Go On TV To Complain About Cancel Culture

2. After Canceling Over 500,000 Lives With Covid-19 Misinformation, Fox News Complains About Dr. Seuss Books The AUTHORS Private Estate Decided Not To Print Anymore

Republicans Put On Show Of Outrage Over Fabricated 'Meat Ban' Boogeyman | Rachel Maddow | MSNBC - There is no meat ban. No one is banning meat. And yet the loudest voices on the right spent the weekend being upset about a meat ban they invented all by themselves. Aired on 04/27/2021.

Media Matters: Fox’s “news” side spreads fake story that Biden wants to ban hamburgers - The Daily Mail wrongly claimed that a year-old academic study was part of Biden’s climate plan. Fox News anchors then promoted the fake story.

Update (4/26/21 4 p.m.): This piece has been updated, to include Fox News anchor John Roberts’ on-air correction Monday.

After a right-wing British news site introduced a blatant lie about President Joe Biden’s green-energy and infrastructure proposals — fraudulently suggesting that the administration is attempting to limit people to having one hamburger a month — Fox News then stepped up as the venue to amplify it into a much wider and frankly embarrassing discourse with its American audience.

In doing so, the network’s purported “news”-side personalities are just as guilty as the officially billed opinion hosts, who have all contributed to this fake story now being spread by high-level Republican politicians. For one, the Biden administration does not have a specific plan yet —but rather an outline of goals to reduce emissions, with a focus on transitioning to clean-energy infrastructure. There is nothing  about mandating a virtual end to meat consumption — nor would there ever be in any eventual plan from an administration in the real world — not that the network’s anchors would acknowledge such facts.

This latest narrative is in fact a revival of a false attack that right-wing media have been pushing for at least two years, attempting to exploit and discredit any proposal to reduce pollution that affects the climate, and turn it into a vast conspiracy of government controls.

This time, right-wing media are distorting a University of Michigan study from 2020, which found that “replacing half of all animal-based foods in the U.S. diet with plant-based alternatives could reduce climate-altering greenhouse gas emissions 1.6 billion metric tons by 2030.” The study’s lead author told CNN’s Daniel Dale over the weekend: “I, admittedly, have no idea what Biden's plan has to say about our diets.”

Essentially, in right-wing media’s telling, Biden wants to reduce emissions by shifting to green energy and electric vehicles; this old study said that slashing meat consumption would reduce emissions; therefore, Biden wants to cut meat consumption. (This is a misuse of the transitive property of mathematics, a seemingly easy concept that is in fact “useful to study in order to avoid mistakes in situations where it doesn't hold.”)

The right-wing British outlet The Daily Mail started this new cycle of false attacks with a headline claiming, “Biden's climate plan could limit you to eat just one burger a MONTH.” The article cited “a study by Michigan University's Center for Sustainable Systems,” without mentioning that the study was a year old and unrelated to any Biden plans. Soon,Fox News picked up this rhetorical sleight of hand on both its “news” and “opinion” sides.

On Friday’s edition of America Reports with John Roberts & Sandra Smith, co-anchor Roberts opened a segment by declaring: “Say goodbye to your burgers if you want to sign up for the climate agenda. That’s the finding of one study.”

Roberts claimed that “researchers say” people would have to cut meat in order to meet Biden’s climate goals, while an on-screen graphic cited the University of Michigan. A chyron at the bottom of the screen throughout the segment claimed “bye-bye burgers under Biden’s climate plan.”

Roberts and Smith then brought on Fox Business host and former Trump administration economic adviser Larry Kudlow. Roberts opened the discussion with a joking reference to the Wendy’s fast-food advertising campaign from the 1980s, “Where’s the Beef?”

And on Fox’s late night news time slot, anchor Shannon Bream opened her broadcast by rhetorically asking viewers: “Could new climate impact plans limit you to just one burger a month?”

Fox News White House correspondent Kevin Corke falsely claimed: “The Center for Sustainable Systems at the University of Michigan says cutting, quote, ‘small diet-related greenhouse gas emissions by half’ could help reach Biden's climate numbers by the 2030 target date.” (The Michigan study did not talk about Biden’s plans or any government mandates.)

Bream responded: “OK. About the burger thing, I'm not going to comply with that. So, I'm wondering, can you buy credits, like you can go buy the carbon credits. Can I buy, like, cheeseburger credits? Because I'm willing to do that — I'm not willing to go one burger a month.”

But then in an odd development, Roberts ran a short correction on Monday in which he acknowledged that the University of Michigan study was from 2020. He then blamed “a graphic and a script” for having “incorrectly implied” that limiting meat consumption “was part of Biden’s plan for dealing with climate change. That is not the case.”

The segment in question had featured an on-screen graphic claiming to explain “Biden’s climate requirements,” with the citation to the University of Michigan failing to mention that the study was from 2020. But the segment also involved multiple other chyrons, such as the aforementioned “Bye-bye burgers under Biden’s climate plan” as well as “Study: 90% of red meat out with Biden climate plan” and “Biden’s climate plan burns all-you-can-eat burgers.”

Roberts himself had said in that segment: “In order to help hit the Biden administration’s climate goals of reducing emissions by 50% from 2005 [levels] by 2030, researchers say you’d have to cut about 90% of red meat from your diet.” Roberts, Smith, and Kudlow never acknowledged that the study was from 2020 and unconnected to any current proposals from the White House.

Roberts now appears to be implying that the words he said on the air as a news anchor were simply “a script,” thus passing responsibility to others.

Fox hosts try to scare viewers with a dystopian nightmare —with the “news” side’s help

The coverage from Fox’s “news”-side personalities was indistinguishable from the “opinion” hosts, as they dishonestly told their viewers that Biden’s climate goals or some study was directly related to it was discussing banning burgers. Viewers were never told that the study being cited was a year old and not connected to the White House’s proposals.

On Friday morning’s edition of Fox & Friends, co-host Ainsley Earhardt claimed that “part of [Biden’s] climate or green targets are to cut our red meat. He wants to cut out 90% of the red meat that you all eat.” Fox Nation host Rachel Campos-Duffy said in response that Biden never would have won Wisconsin 2020, where she lives, if the public had known he was going to make this proposal.

Fox Business host Charles Payne also claimed that “one analysis of the plan” said that Biden’s climate goals would cut meat consumption, which an on-screen graphic called “Biden policy effect on meat.” Payne further compared the proposal to the 1970s dystopian sci-fi movie Soylent Green.

And on Kudlow’s Fox Business show — around 90 minutes after he had just appeared with Roberts and Smith — the host cited “a study coming out of the University of Michigan, which says that to meet the Biden Green New Deal targets,” Americans would have to stop eating meat. Kudlow then repeatedly warned that people would be subjected to the horrors of “plant-based beer” on the Fourth of July. Beer, of course, is a plant and fungi-based product to begin with, and Kudlow earned public mockery from Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and many others on Twitter.

But on the other hand, Kudlow’s parade of horribles does make a bit of sense when one realizes that he has made a successful career in both right-wing media and the government out of being wrong at just about everything.

Then things got even more absurd on Saturday night, starting with Fox host Jesse Watters on his show Watters’ World.

“The Democrats always said they want government to stay out of the bedroom — but it looks like the government just walked downstairs into your kitchen,” Watters said. “Because Americans are going to have to cut their red meat consumption by 90%, in order to reduce emissions to hit Biden's target. That means you're only allowed to eat four pounds of red meat a year. That adds up to a burger a month — that's it.”

Of course, there is no such forthcoming government mandate.

Fox host Jeanine Pirro, meanwhile, told any of her viewers who might enjoy a burger that “the left with their Green New Deal wants to make sure you don’t.”

By this point, neither Watters nor Pirro even bothered to cite the misused study from the University of Michigan — instead, the accusation of the Biden administration virtually eliminating meat consumption had simply been given its own independent existence, without even requiring a pretext of any evidence.

Instead, Pirro went with a visual that simply must be seen to be believed:

Right-wing media invented a Biden ban on meat because they're incentivized to lie

If mainstream outlets won’t hold the right accountable, conservatives have every reason to keep lying

Let’s get one thing out of the way: President Joe Biden is not placing a limit on the amount of meat Americans can legally consume, and anyone saying otherwise is a fool, a liar, or an enabler of fools and liars.

Conservative politicians and commentators have worked themselves into a frothy rage over an imaginary government-imposed cap on the amount of meat Americans are allowed to eat in a given year. “Not gonna happen in Texas!” tweeted Republican Gov. Greg Abbott. Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) demanded that Biden stay out of her kitchen, and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) called him “the Hamburglar.” Donald Trump Jr. wrote, “I’m pretty sure I ate 4 pounds of red meat yesterday. That’s going to be a hard NO from me.”

It all began, as so many paranoid right-wing lies do, with a single erroneous article, this one from the Daily Mail: “How Biden’s climate plan could limit you to eat just one burger a MONTH, cost $3.5k a year per person in taxes, force you to spend $55k on an electric car and ‘crush’ American jobs.”

The article took a grain of truth (Biden did announce a goal to cut greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030), and then filled in the blanks with far-right fearmongering about tax hikes and meat rationing based on a study that predated the Biden presidency by more than a year. CNN’s Daniel Dale contacted one of the study’s authors, who said, “I, admittedly, have no idea what Biden’s plan has to say about our diets.” Dale appeared in a CNN segment debunking the claim, as well.

By this point, the disinformation train had long left the station. 

Over on Fox News, the America Reports with John Roberts & Sandra Smith co-anchors rattled off a list of possibilities that were supposedly part of Biden’s climate plan, but which were actually just hypotheticals from the Daily Mail’s piece of rage bait. According to Roberts and Smith, who is considered part of Fox’s “news” side, along with cutting down to one burger a month, Americans will be forced to pay $3,500 in taxes a year and required to purchase electric vehicles. These are lies. Plain and simple. Lies.

On Monday, Smith’s co-anchor John Roberts sheepishly walked back the claims made on Friday’s show.

While right-wing media outlets regularly run with outlandish lies without bothering to check for accuracy, it’s mainstream buy-in that causes the real harm.

The White House responded to the false claims with a photo of Biden grilling at a campaign event two years earlier. And Bloomberg senior White House reporter Jennifer Jacobs demonstrated just how casually mainstream media outlets help launder right-wing lies through the public discourse by framing the lie as though it was based in reality, tweeting, “White House pushes back on claims Biden wants to steer Americans off meat,” and lending credibility to the lie.

Jacobs could have more honestly framed her reaction to the White House’s cheeky response to a lie by describing it as exactly that: a response to an obvious lie. Yes, others like Dale at CNN and Katie Shepherd at The Washington Post were forceful in their rebuttals, but Jacobs’ tweet is an example of how lies can create cracks in reality with help from mainstream journalists.

What makes this especially frustrating is the fact that these lies aren’t even new. The claim that Democrats are coming for your hamburgers has been an odd staple of right-wing rage bait for years.

After Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) introduced the Green New Deal in the House and Senate back in February 2019, Fox News and others on the right churned out an extensive list of outlandish lies about the resolution. According to Fox, the Green New Deal would ban meat and cost “$25 bazillion” to implement, and mandate that a train be built to Hawaii (on account of air travel being outlawed). This is all just a rehash of those same nonsense narratives.

After Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) talked about being a vegan but not imposing his approach on others, Fox News claimed he was doing the exact opposite, saying  Booker “wants to impose his meat rationing on the rest of us.”

“They want to take your pick-up truck, they want to rebuild your home, they want to take away your hamburgers,” right-wing radio host Sebastian Gorka said during the 2019 Conservative Political Action Conference. “This is what Stalin dreamt about but never achieved.”

It’s all bullshit. There’s not a nicer way to put it. It’s bullshit, and it’s exactly what you get when there are zero consequences for telling outlandish lies. In just the past week, Fox News and others on the right have not only pushed the fake story about meat rationing, but also promoted false narratives about schools supposedly ending accelerated math courses and the outright lie that children being held in immigrant detention facilities were each being provided with a copy of Vice President Kamala Harris’ 2019 children’s book. Thankfully, there were some mainstream media outlets on the case to debunk the lies.

But making things up to smear Democrats has long been a successful right-wing approach to the media. And perhaps the more damaging aspect of this is the lack of accountability in mainstream media for people who spread lies in the first place.

For instance, in 2011 and beyondCNN repeatedly gave reality TV host Donald Trump a platform to speculate about whether then-President Barack Obama was actually born in the United States. Trump then took his racist conspiracy-mongering and turned it into a successful political platform. 

Another example of lies not having any actual consequences can be seen in the way mainstream media outlets seem to have just shrugged and pretended that it wasn’t less than four months ago that 147 Republicans voted to overturn the results of the 2020 election. These people still get invited on TV and treated like legitimate members of the legislative branch rather than as people who went on record trying to end American democracy to install an illegitimate fascist dictatorship. Mainstream media outlets are unwilling to implement even the barest of accountability standards for fear that these bad actors will call them biased (which, of course, they’ll do anyway).

Yes, the problem is partly that right-wing media will invent nonsense to be angry about, whether it’s some new moral panic about Dr. Seuss or Lil Nas X or the existence of trans people or hamburgers. There’s no doubt about that. But the problem is also that mainstream outlets and the journalists who work for them help launder the bullshit through their more respectable outlets. 

Where would we be right now had CNN taken a stand in 2011 against a racist grifter spreading nonsense lies about the first Black president in our country’s history? Where would we be if people were deterred from inventing lies like the idea that the Affordable Care Act created “death panels” — as right-wing commentator Betsy McCaughey did in 2009 — by turning such false claims into an instant career-killer rather than continuing to book them years later? Where would we be if truth meant more than ratings and the false appearance of balance?

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The Murdoch/Fox War On The People

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