Top 10 Misreported or Underreported Stories of 2015
By: Roger Aronoff
Accuracy in Media
AIM Special Report
As the year draws to a close, we like to highlight some of the American media’s worst abuses that occurred during the past year. We have picked 10 stories for which there were general narratives presented by the mainstream media—narratives that ignored the larger truths to be gleaned from these stories. In other cases, the media missed the story altogether. We easily could have picked many more that meet those criteria, but arbitrarily chose to look at 10, in no particular order.
- The Fake Iran Agreement
- Global Warming Deal
- Obamacare’s Ongoing Failures
- Ignoring Benghazi Revelations
- Blame Gun Control Laws or the Attacker?
- The Islamic State
- Obama’s Cybersecurity Failures
- Vetting Hillary Clinton
- Skewed GOP Primaries
- Securing our Skies
1. The Fake Iran Agreement
In July the mainstream media celebrated a deal between Iran and the P5+1 that would provide Iran with sanctions relief along with virtually no accountability. Today, the administration, along with their lapdogs in the press, continues to argue that this somehow adds up to a good deal for the world.
It doesn’t. In fact, there really is no deal at all. The New York Times and other news organizations still call this a “signed” deal. It isn’t. Julia Frifield, the State Department Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs, wrote in a November 19 letter to Republican Representative Mike Pompeo (KS) that “The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is not a treaty or an executive agreement, and is not a signed document.” She added that “The success of the JCPOA will depend not on whether it is legally binding or signed, but rather on the extensive verification measures we have put in place, as well as Iran’s understanding that we have the capacity to re-impose—and ramp up—our sanctions if Iran does not meet its commitments.”
Such farcical arguments expose the deal as a sham. Case in point: in both October and November Iran tested a missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead, in violation of United Nations resolutions. In addition, Iran was asked by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to provide its own samples from theParchin military site. CNN portrayed the IAEA’s inspection of Parchin as alandmark victory, although the inspectors entered an empty facility containing no equipment. The fact is that this deal, for all intents and purposes, can be interpreted by the Iranians as whatever they want it to be.
In a December 28 article, The New York Times cited an Iranian shipment of low-enriched uranium to Russia as “one of the biggest achievements in [President Obama’s] foreign policy record…” As we demonstrated in a recent article, this “achievement” is, in fact, a dangerous hoax in which the Obama administration and the Iranian mullahs are equally invested.
Here is what the December 28 Times article says: “Iran is still disassembling centrifuges, which enrich uranium, and disabling a plutonium reactor, among other steps that are required under the nuclear agreement struck in July.”
Besides the fact that no deal was “struck,” meaning signed, this is what the Iranian foreign minister said about those two issues, from a recent New Yorker magazine interview with Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif that I linked to in my recent article:
NEW YORKER: Where does the Iran nuclear deal stand? What is your timetable to complete steps pledged in dismantling part of the program?
IRANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER MOHAMMAD JAVAD ZARIF: We’re not dismantling anything. We are uninstalling some centrifuges and reconstructing the Arak reactor, modernizing it…
In other words, Iran lies and deceives in order to collect their frozen assets—estimated to be $100 billion-plus—and keep on violating virtually every significant aspect of the so-called “agreement,” while Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry go along with it and claim it as a great victory for their legacy. Even The Washington Post acknowledges how cynical the whole process is, while The New York Times continues as a propaganda organ of the Obama administration. This is the same administration that, as Politico pointed out, “counts ‘bringing peace’ to Syria a 2015 win.”
2. Global Warming Deal
At the conclusion of the COP (Conference of Parties) 21 conference in Paris, the international community was reenergized to fight climate change—with calls to commit $100 billion annually to a slush fund for poorer countries. This bribe, or ransom, money aligns well with the President’s plan to boost his legacy at the expense of our country. He can claim that he did something to conquer climate change.
“This agreement does not require submission to the Senate because of the way it is structured,” a senior administration official told CNN. “The targets aren’t binding.” In other words, President Obama need not submit yet another piece of his unilateral, intrusive agenda of change to Congress.
The Republican-led House passed two resolutions rejecting the administration’s onerous EPA regulations on coal plants following President Obama’s climate change speech. These resolutions will be vetoed, according to CNN. But the focus of the media remains on countering skeptics, boosting unsustainable alternative energies, and, yes, claiming that industrialization cools the earth. Yet, according to the International Business Times, this “new research does not contradict the effects of carbon dioxide on global warming…”
For the climate change believers in the press, nothing can contradict the religion of global warming; their theory is based on politicized science and computer models, as we have argued for decades. This administration claims that it is the greatest national security threat we face. But it is Islamic jihadist expansion andterrorism, not climate change, that is a much greater threat. Not to mention, a resurgent Russia and an increasingly aggressive China.
3. Obamacare’s Continued Fiasco
Obamacare’s fiascos have never ceased, even if mainstream outlets choose not to cover this legislation’s resounding failures. When news broke that MIT economistJonathan Gruber’s email exchanges with the White House amounted to at least 20,000 pages, this revelation was met with a near complete blackout by the mainstream media. But when King v. Burwell, a case which could have struck a crippling blow to Obamacare, went before the Supreme Court, the media misled the public and policymakers about this constitutional challenge, claiming it would cause eight million Americans to lose their coverage. The New York Times falsely cast the words “established by the state” as a drafting error, although that phrase occurs 10 times in the text of the healthcare law.
The mainstream media’s complicit reporting gave the Supreme Court Justices the cover necessary to claim that “The combination of no tax credits and an ineffective coverage requirement could well push a State’s individual insurance market into a death spiral.” Therefore, anything that challenges the law’s proper functioning could not be the original intention of lawmakers: “It is implausible that Congress meant the Act to operate in this manner.” It is no wonder that Justice Antonin Scalia condemned his colleagues’ majority ruling as creating “SCOTUScare.”
Despite the Supreme Court’s efforts to keep Obamacare alive, parts of the law continue to fail average Americans. “Out of the 23 co-ops largely funded through Obamacare by federal loans, 12 will no longer offer policies after this year,”reports Politifact. Co-ops are a “new type of private nonprofit health insurer” created by Obamacare, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid. Politifact found that “co-ops fared significantly worse than the U.S. average, failing at a rate that is about 40 percent faster than is typical.” In other words, co-ops must be added to the list of Obamacare failures following narrow networks, high deductibles, and rising premiums.
4. Ignoring Benghazi Revelations
Several Benghazi revelations have surfaced in 2015, and Accuracy in Media’sCitizens’ Commission on Benghazi has been on top of them all. The CCB’s 2014 Interim Report has been proven correct in every sense. For example, it was confirmed that Hillary Clinton refused to take a phone call from Muammar Qaddafi’s son at a time that the war in Libya could have been prevented. And there is confirmation that Hillary Clinton was aware of the arms shipments to al-Qaeda related groups in Libya, which she denied at the October 22nd hearing of the Select Committee on Benghazi. Also, it turned out that the State Departmentreceived more than 600 requests for increased security in Libya that Clinton claimed she was unaware of. The list goes on.
Not only do the media deliberately ignore the fact that Benghazi remains a liability for presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, many reporters also contend that the Select Committee on Benghazi investigation is a waste of resources. “The media now complain that the mission of the Select Committee on Benghazi has become overbroad, wasteful, and doesn’t focus on the attack,” we reported back in July. “Yet many in the media focused on the cost of this investigation, and Democrat accusations that it is wasteful and duplicative, even when the Committee was narrowly focusing on the attack.”
“But for the media, it’s old news and hardly worth a mention,” we wrote. “Their tactic is, whenever possible, to repeat assertions by various administration supporters that the Benghazi investigation is a partisan witch hunt.”
America has now learned that then-Secretary of State Clinton sent an email to her daughter, Chelsea Clinton, attributing the Benghazi attacks to al Qaeda. She alsocontacted the Egyptian Prime Minister and said, “It was a planned attack, not a protest…Based on the information we saw today, we believe that the group that claimed responsibility for this was affiliated with al-Qaeda.” Secretary Clinton similarly told the Libyan president that the attacks could be attributed to Ansar al Sharia. In the meantime, the administration continued publicly blaming a YouTube video for the attacks. Mrs. Clinton also now denies that she told the families of the victims that the government would arrest Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, the filmmaker, for his role in the attacks.
No further evidence is necessary to expose President Obama and former Secretary Clinton’s ties to the Benghazi cover-up. But the media are wrong to condemn this as a phony scandal simply because reporters want this embarrassing fiasco to stop plaguing their favorite presidential candidate.
5. Blame Gun Control Laws or the Attacker?
President Obama and his loyal media brigade are fond of arguing for gun control in the wake of attacks on Americans, regardless of whether gun control laws would actually have helped to prevent murder. “And, of course, what’s also routine is that somebody, somewhere will comment and say, Obama politicized this issue,” asserted President Obama after the Umpqua Community College shooting in Oregon. “Well, this is something we should politicize,” he said, calling upon the media to tally up the number of people killed by gun violence as opposed to terrorism.
When Kate Steinle died in California, it was at the hands of an illegal alien who had been convicted seven times and deported five times to Mexico. In some of these cases, the attack is the fault of a criminal illegal alien released back onto the streets, jihadists, or a crazed son stealing guns from his mother.
The media, so fond of promoting gun control, need to explain what law, exactly, would have prevented the recent series of mass shootings. Tennessee, where Chattanooga shooter Mohammad Yussef Abdulazeez killed four marines, is “one of the most lenient states for gun control.” In contrast, according to The Washington Post fact checker, California has probably the toughest gun laws in the country. This didn’t stop Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik from killing 14 in San Bernardino, California. “The guns were purchased legally and the rifles were purchased legally by a former neighbor,” writes Fact-Checker Glenn Kessler for The Washington Post.
What law or laws, exactly, would have prevented the San Bernardino, Chattanooga, Charleston, and Umpqua Community College shootings? Kessler awarded the Geppetto Checkmark—defined as “Statements and claims that contain ‘the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth’”—to Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio’s (FL) claim that no recent “major” mass shootings could have been prevented through gun laws.
6. The Islamic State
Last year, Press Secretary Josh Earnest falsely claimed that President Obama didn’t mean just the Islamic State when he spoke about “jihadists who are engaged in various local power struggles and disputes, often sectarian.” At the time The Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler awarded Earnest, and thereby the Obama administration, an embarrassing four Pinocchios for an obvious lie.
President Obama’s original comments were meant to differentiate between terrorists who target the near enemy—within their own nations or region—and those intent on killing Americans. But after the Paris attacks, and San Bernardino, California shooting, it seems that ISIS and those inspired by ISIS have begun to focus on the far enemy: the Western powers, including America.
Reporting on ISIS-sponsored or ISIS-inspired attacks is easy for the press. But members of the mainstream media refuse to address the larger issue of Islamic jihadist terrorism, and the number of hostile jihadists overall.
Now as the Islamic State continues to hold large swaths of Syria and Iraq, the administration and the media both refuse to condemn ISIS for what it really is: one of the many branches of Islamic jihadist groups. The Islamic State need not necessarily win in either Syria or Iraq in order for there to be terror attacks against Americans. ISIS could be replaced by other Islamic jihadists once defeated. “Whether we like it or not, ISIS currently plays a role in the balancing act between Shia and Sunni in the Middle East,” wrote Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi members Pete Hoekstra and Clare Lopez. “What happens to the equilibrium once it is removed from the equation?”
“The Obama administration has already demonstrated its proclivity to side with the wrong party—al-Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood—in Libya and Egypt,” they continue. “We should not allow ourselves to become drawn into such mistakes again, especially when the ability of the West, Russia and Iran to fully destroy ISIS—or its jihadist ideology—is not entirely clear right now.”
7. Obama’s Cybersecurity Failures
In an outrageous and unacceptable breach of trust, the Obama administration failed to maintain adequate cybersecurity at 17 of the 24 major federal agencies, with the GAO finding that in 2014 17 agencies demonstrated “material weaknesses or significant deficiencies.” Not surprisingly, in twin hacks which together compose “one of the most devastating breaches of U.S. government data in history,” the Chinese gained access to American citizens’ private identifiable information such as social security numbers, health insurance, military service and fingerprints.
“The Obama administration initially downplayed the cyber hack of the [Office of Personnel Management] OPM, which centrally manages records for current and former federal employees,” we reported. “It did so even though it had missed the hack for at least four months, if not more, until a company, CyTech Services, which was conducting a sales demonstration, found malware in OPM’s system that could have been there for a year or more.”
Not only did the Chinese gain access to data on current and former government employees, it also gained access to background check data. Now, the U.S. government has offered just three years of identity protection to the 21.5 million people whose data were stolen, while a foreign country gets to take its time to parse through the details. Where is the mainstream media’s outrage on behalf of the millions of victims of President Obama’s ongoing incompetence?
8. Vetting Hillary Clinton
No matter how shameful her falsehoods or accompanying excuses, the mainstream media continue to give Hillary Clinton a free pass on virtually anything she alleges. She has been caught in lie, after lie, after lie.
ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, in particular, brought Clinton Cash author Peter Schweizer on his show in order to undermine the author’s investigation of the Clintons and their foundation. “But the ABC host, formerly a Senior Advisor on Policy and Strategy, and unofficial hatchet-man for President Bill Clinton, treated his broadcast as more of an interrogation than an interview in an effort to discredit Schweizer and defend, in turn, the Clintons,” we reported at the time. It turned out that Stephanopoulos had himself contributed to the Clinton Foundation without telling his employer, his guest, or his viewers—highlighting once again the ongoing incestuous relationships between the media and the Clintons.
Hillary Clinton’s email scandal has also turned into a campaign season debacle of drip, drip, drip. She deleted half of her emails as Secretary of State—which were stored on a private email server—and then sent the remaining half to the State Department, claiming that those messages she deleted were personal. It turns out that she deleted portions of the emails she sent on to the State Department, and also failed to provide a number of emails that were sent between her and confidante Sydney Blumenthal.
And, Mrs. Clinton falsely maintained that she never emailed classified information using her email server. The intelligence community Inspector General has since declared at least two of her emails Top Secret. “The sources…[said] that while the emails were indeed ‘top secret’ when they hit Clinton’s server, one of them remains ‘top secret’ to this day—and must be handled at the highest security level,” reports Fox News.
Besides, it doesn’t really matter if she knew or not. In her position, it was her responsibility to know. And the idea that she could operate for four years as Secretary of State, with all of her emails sent and received on an unauthorized, private server, and never handle classified material, is absurd on its face. Plus, the likelihood that her server was hacked by foes such as China or Russia is very high, even with Secret Service officers standing guard outside the room where the server sat, which she ridiculously claimed was a measure of security that protected her emails from people who would want to see them.
Mrs. Clinton’s email server remains under FBI investigation while the mainstream media continue to look the other way. After the treatment given to Gen. David Petraeus and others by the Obama Justice Department for far less egregious mishandling of classified material, the question must be asked: Is Hillary Clinton above the law? Reporters continue to violate their mandate to vet this presidential candidate, just as they failed to do so with Barack Obama.
9. Skewed GOP Primaries
While the media nitpick Republican candidates for very minor “lies” or indiscretions, their Democratic counterparts’ lies, assumptions and conflicts of interest get a free pass. Where is the endless media coverage of Hillary’s private email server, the Clinton Foundation, and Benghazi? Instead we hear about Donald Trump’s belittling of women.
During their obligatory coverage of Mrs. Clinton’s fraudulent statements, reporters yawn on air and ask whether it is really relevant to discuss these topics of interest. “Look, I’ve never really heard anyone spontaneously bring it up when I’ve been on the trail covering Hillary,” claimed MSNBC correspondent Joy-Ann Reid regarding Mrs. Clinton’s email scandal. “So I don’t know that the American people are following it with this much detail.”
“So, I have been utterly bored with the story to the point where I only recently began to really sort of dig into it,” Reid said.
On the other hand, the media cannot get enough of Trump, who bombastically drops one-liners amidst never-ending press coverage. A recent analysis of Trump coverage shows that CNN allotted 78 percent of its Republican primary coverage to Trump, probably because he drives ratings and makes inflammatory statements. Meanwhile, during the Republican debates, presidential candidates are subjected to “gotcha” questions, or questions that ask candidates to attack each other.
On December 10th, CNN aired a segment titled “Does the truth matter for Trump supporters?” Let’s go beyond whether the truth matters to Hillary’s supporters for a moment. The bigger question is, does the truth about our presidential candidates actually matter to liberal campaign reporters?
The bottom line is that the media take every opportunity to make GOP candidates look bad, and try to get them to fight among themselves. But when it comes to the Democratic candidates, particularly Hillary Clinton, they go out of their way to avoid conflict, and ignore or downplay the scandals and conflicts of interest.
10. Securing our Skies
After September 11, 2001, one might think that keeping our skies safe would be a top priority. However, the Obama administration is more interested in fostering diversity among air controller candidates than hiring competent personnel, thereby placing all Americans at risk.
“When it comes to air traffic safety, racially- and demographically-blind hiring standards should be applied across the country as well,” we argued back in May.
Only a small number of news outlets bothered to report on the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) altering hiring standards to invalidate the inside track for Collegiate Training Initiative graduates, who had significant training in actually being an air traffic controller. The new hiring standards instead utilized a biographical questionnaire (BQ) that was far less indicative of how well prepared one was to become an air traffic controller.
The Fox Business Network discovered that an association, the National Black Coalition of Federal Aviation Employees (NBCFAE), was coaching its members so that they were more likely to pass the BQ. Yet, “Key individuals impacted by the cheating scandal report to me that despite repeated attempts, the FAA investigators did not return calls or set up interviews with them,” wrote four Congressional Members in a December letter.
The media have been studiously ignoring this, and many other scandals, in order to avoid the embarrassment that any one of them would cause President Obama. As we have previously documented, President Obama and his administration have waged an unprecedented war on journalists and whistleblowers while failing to hold people accountable for scandals that occurred on their watch, such as at the IRS, at the VA (Veterans Affairs) and the FAA. And 2015 saw a continuation of this culture of corruption and cover-up by both the administration and the news media.