NEW YORK — Less than half the “facts” broadcast on Fox News are even partially true, according to an ongoing analysis by an independent fact-checking project.
Some recent lies told by on-air personalities and guests seem designed to stoke fears over the safety of refugees living in the United States and to spread untruths about American support for gun control laws.
Punditfact, a joint project by the Tampa Bay Times and media analysts from Politifact, offers “scorecards” on the accuracy of the TV networks and major TV personalities.
Last updated in January, the Punditfact scorecard for Fox News shows that just 10 percent of statements made on the network have been “True” and another 12 percent “Mostly True” since the project began in 2014. Even generously including the 19 percent of statements deemed “Half True” reveals that just 41 percent of Fox News statements can be deemed “true” to some degree.
On the other end of the Punditfact scale, a full 29 percent of statements presented as fact by Fox News were found to be “False,” and another 9 percent were found to be so outrageously false the team determined them to be “Pants On Fire” lies, the worst of six possible categories.
Combined with 20 percent of statements determined to be “Mostly False,” well over half of statements made by Fox journalists or pundits were lies.
Those figures are largely unchanged from last year, when Punditfact found that about 60 percent of Fox News’ “facts” were actually false.
Most recently, Punditfact criticized conservative radio host Laura Ingraham for a “False” statement she made on “Fox News Sunday” on Jan. 3. Although polls consistently find that about 90 percent of Americans support background checks for gun purchases, a fact cited by President Barack Obama in his Jan. 1 weekly address, Ingraham claimed “that’s been debunked.”
Other lies told on Fox News seem aimed at fostering distrust of refugees and increasing tension around Obama’s proposals to bring more asylum-seekers from Syria and Iraq into the United States. On Nov. 22, Michael Needham, chief executive of the conservative lobbying group Heritage Action, declared on “Fox News Sunday” that the U.S. accepted “67 percent of the world’s refugees” in 2013. Determining this statement to be “Mostly False,” Punditfact reported that the correct figure was actually 2.3 percent, or about 264,000 refugees. Needham seemed to be confusing the actual figure with a UNHCR report that the U.S. had accepted 67 percent, or about 48,000, of refugees recommended for resettlement by that agency.
And Sean Hannity told the most recent “Pants on Fire” lie during a Oct. 19 interview with Jeb Bush. Hannity claimed that “[t]he president said he’s going to bring in 250,000 refugees into this country,” which he argued might facilitate a national takeover by Daesh (an Arabic acronym for the terrorist group commonly referred to in the West as ISIS or ISIL).
Even Bush seemed to question the figure, responding, “I’ve never heard that, and that would be impossible to imagine logistically for us to screen.”
Punditfact was unable to find any source approaching the figure . Instead, a September statement by White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest suggests the U.S. is preparing to take about 10,000 Syrian refugees.
Of course, Fox News isn’t the only network broadcasting falsehoods on a disturbingly regular basis. While faring better overall, Punditfact’s scorecard for CNN shows that only 17 percent of analyzed facts were “True,” and a combined scorecard for MSNBC and NBC shows those networks only got it completely right 12 percent of the time.