Going Out In A Blaze of Bias
CNSnews.com's Fred Lucas is taking his talents for biased and misleading reporting to Glenn Beck's The Blaze.
By Terry Krepel
Earlier this year, Matt Cover left for Rare, the conservative website operated by Cox. Now Fred Lucas has jumped ship for Glenn Beck's "news" operation The Blaze.
Like Cover, Lucas used his CNS tenure to crank out biased and misleading articles that conformed to the Media Research Center right-wing agenda -- the kind of journalistic qualities The Blaze was apparently seeking out.
Let's take a look back at Lucas' CNS work and see what kind of reporter Beck is getting.
Lucas likes to invent controversies about the Obama administration. He smelled a conspiracy in a May 20 article:
The head of the National Treasury Employee Union (NTEU), which represents employees of the Internal Revenue Service, met with President Barack Obama in the White House one day before the manager of the IRS’s “Technical Unit” suggested establishing a “Sensitive Case Report” for the tax-exempt status applications of Tea Party groups, according to data from the official White House visitor log and the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.
Had Lucas bothered to do a little actual research instead of trying to play gotcha by suggesting the White House's non-responses to him were evidence that Obama was trying to hide something, he would have learned that Kelley was one of 117 visitors who came to the Old Executive Office Building that day for what the log describes as a "Workplace Flexibility Forum," and she did not have a personal meeting with Obama.
Attacking Obama's family
A March 2012 article by Lucas essentially called Michelle Obama a liar for claiming that Barack Obama's grandmother suffered discrimination while working in the banking industry. Lucas' evidence to back this up? The grandmother, Madelyn Dunham, "was the first female vice president of the Bank of Hawaii," and the Obamas "inherited almost $500,000 worth of the bank’s stock from the president’s grandmother."
What does one have to do with the other? Lucas never explains. After all, the fact that Madelyn Dunham ultimately rose to the bank's management and was eventually paid well does not in any way disprove Michelle Obama's statement that Dunham was discriminated against. Indeed, given that sex discrimination was rampant around the time that Dunham was beginning her banking career, Obama's statement has the ring of truth.
Lucas used an April 2012 article to try and portray the Obamas as wealthy elitists by attacking Obama for saying that he and his wife "didn’t come from wealthy families." Lucas retorted that "the Obamas did report an income of $789,674 for 2011 on their tax returns, which puts them in the top 1 percent of income earners in the United States. Their income in 2010 was $1.8 million," and that the Obama’s [sic] 2009 tax return shows that Barack Obama inherited $480,908 worth of Bank of Hawaii stock from his grandmother, Madelyn Dunham, who was a vice president of the bank."
Of course, how much the Obamas make now or recently inherited doesn't disprove that they didn't come from wealthy families. It's simply a mindless partisan and personal attack, the kind that Lucas' boss, Terry Jeffrey has encouraged in turning CNS into an anti-Obama propaganda mill.
In fact, during that Fox News interview, Steve Doocy misquoted Obama in asking Romney about Obama's remark, falsely claiming that Obama said "unlike some people, I wasn't born with a silver spoon in my mouth." the words "unlike some people" appear nowhere in Obama's remarks, and the full context of the statement shows it's about educational assistance and was not directed at Romney.
Lucas' disdain for Obama extends to anyone and anything even remotely tangentally related to him. This, seriously, is the lead, and the entire point, of another April 2012 CNSNews.com article by Lucas:
President Obama this week advocated his plans for federally subsidized student loans and his desire to keep college costs down at the University of Colorado, a school whose Women and Gender Studies program includes a course on “Disney’s Women and Girls,” and where the full cost for an on-campus in-state student this year was $26,877.
That's it. The rest of Lucas' article is dedicated to bashing the school for offering this class -- as well as for offering a "Women and Gender Studies" program -- and Obama for speaking there.
Putting words in Obama's mouth
In an April 3, 2012, CNS article, Lucas wrote:
President Barack Obama told a gathering of newspaper editors on Tuesday that journalists were being too balanced in reporting on his conflict with Republicans over the federal budget.
No, he didn't. Here's what Lucas later quoted Obama as saying:
“I guess another way of thinking about this--and this bears on your reporting--I think that there is oftentimes the impulse to suggest that if the two parties are disagreeing that they are equally at fault and the truth lies somewhere in the middle, equivalence is presented, which reinforces people’s cynicism about Washington in general,” Obama said. “This is not a situation where there is equivalence.”
Obama was not talking about "balance," he was talking about false equivalence, a completely different concept.
Lucas apparently decided he can read Obama's mind in a Jan. 21 article:
President Barack Obama seemed to reject entitlement reform in his second Inaugural address Monday, even saying Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security “free us to take the risks that make this country great.”
Praising Social Security does not equal rejecting any reform of the program, and Lucas does not explain how it does.
Nitpicking Obama's religion
How much does Lucas loathe President Obama? He devoted not one but two articles to nitpicking religious statements he made.
In an April 2012 article, Lucas complained that Obama, at an Easter prayer breakfast, said that Jesus was "a son of God." In fact, Lucas huffs, "the Christian faith teaches that Jesus is the only Son of God," followed by his recitation of John 3:16-18.
Then, two days later, Lucas grumbled that Obama said that Jesus "knew doubt" and had "doubts.” Lucas dug up a "Christian scholar" to assist this attack:
Alan Schreck, a professor of theology at Franciscan University of Steubenville, understands why Obama would say Jesus experienced fear.
Did Schreck know that he was serving a tool for Lucas' anti-Obama agenda?
Apparently, Lucas had nothing more important to do with his life at that time than nitpick the faith of others.
Propping up Republicans
Lucas endeavored to clean up after Mitt Romney following one debate performance, acting as a one-man spin room by devoting an entire article to what Romney didn't say but presumably meant to:
During Wednesday night’s presidential debate, when Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney explained why wanted to repeal and replace Obamacare, he cited four reasons, including because it is “expensive,” it “cuts $716 billion” from Medicare, it includes an “unelected board” that could determine what kind of medical treatments people get, and it “killed jobs.”
Yes, pointing out that Romney failed to mention the individual mandate is the entire point of Lucas' article. He did concede, however, that an individual mandate exists in the health care plan Romney spearheaded as Massachusetts, though he fails to mention that the individual mandate had longtime support from Republicans before it was embraced by Obama.
Bogus attacks on Obama nominees
A Jan. 3 CNS article by Lucas rehashed dubious attacks on judicial nominee Caitlin Halligan, who President Obama re-nominated to a federal appellate court after Congress failed to act on her original nomination.
Lucas cited "conservatives criticism [sic] over her anti-gun views," but he failed to explain that in the cases Halligan worked on, she was acting as New York's solicitor general and not expressing her personal views. He also failed to report that Halligan has testified that she supports Second Amendment rights.
Lucas also cited Halligan's "legal argument that pro-life protesters were guilty of extortion," but again failed to explain that the amicus brief she filed was as New York solicitor general, not as a private attorney.
In fact, Lucas does not permit any defense whatsoever of Halligan to the attacks on her that he devoted nine of his article's 12 paragraphs to. That would seem to violate CNS' mission statement to "fairly present all legitimate sides of a story."
Lucas used a July 23 CNS article to attack judicial nominee Cornelia Pillard, whom he described as "a vocal abortion advocate who said abstinence education was unconstitutional for violating .reproductive justice.'" But in the very next paragraph, Lucas quoted Pillard -- and it's clear she is referring to abstinence-only sex education, not "abstinence education" (emphasis added):
“The equal protection critique of abstinence-only curricula is strengthened and rendered more amenable to judicial resolution by the fact that sex education classes are designed not only to expose students to ideas, but also to shape student behavior,” Pillard, a Georgetown University Law professor, wrote in a 2007 article titled “Our Other Reproductive Choices: Equality in Sex Education, Contraceptive Access and Work Family Policy” in a faculty publication.
Lucas waited until the 13th paragraph of his article to explain what exactly Pillard said was "unconstitutional" about abstinence-only education -- that it is discriminatory because it "prescrib[es] chastity and maternity for women while assuming lustfulness and autonomy for men."
Lucas then quotes Valerie Huber, president of the National Abstinence Education Association, attacking Pillard and defending abstinence-only education, but neither Lucas nor Huber mention the fact that abstinence-only education has been repeatedly criticized for promulgating inaccurate and biased information.
Getting it wrong
A July 25, 2012, article by Lucas echoed CNS' longtime practice of falsely suggesting that federal money to Planned Parenthood pays for abortions:
In fiscal year 2010, Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) got $487.4 million from the federal and state governments, up from $363.2 million the previous year, making taxpayer funding about one-third of the organization’s $1 billion in assets. According to its fact sheet, Planned Parenthood performed 329,445 abortions in 2010.
In fact, the federal money that goes to Planned Parenthood is not fungible because it is earmarked for specific purposes, and it is prohibited from being used to pay for abortions.
An Oct. 22 CNS article by Lucas breathlessly reported on how former President Clinton "talked about his eligibility to serve as the leader of both Ireland and France" during an interview with CNN's Piers Morgan.
However, as Lucas goes on to later note, this interview took place on "Sept. 30" -- more than three weeks earlier.
Despite this article's lengthy incubation time, Lucas still got basic facts wrong. His lead paragraph identified Clinton's interviewer as "Pierce Morgan." Also, the interview aired on Sept. 25, not Sept. 30.
(The spelling of Morgan's name was later corrected, though the date of the interview remains incorrect.)
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Hopefully, this is the kind of reporting The Blaze is looking for in adding Lucas, because that's what they're getting.