Accuracy in Media has published its “Top 10 Misreported or Underreported Stories of the Year.” Here they are.
1. Obamacare’s Failings: From the Rollout to the Substance
The daily revelations about Obamacare’s website have led to the lowest job approval ratings for President Obama during his time in office. The administration is feeling the pressure, even from liberal media outlets, not to mention from talk radio and the conservative media. The American people have expressed their dissatisfaction as well. Even when the website is eventually fixed, the results are evident. People who like their policies are losing them; people are losing their choice of doctors and hospitals; costs are going up for most, especially when you factor in the increase in deductibles. Now Senate Democrats are feeling the political pressure to distance themselves from Obama and Obamacare. It is the top story of the year because, despite Obama’s promises that “if you like you’re your plan, you can keep it,” Obamacare is leading to the opposite conclusion. And its devastating effect on the economy—with new taxes, fewer full-time hires, and companies dumping their employees into state- or federally-run exchanges—is only beginning to be felt.
2. Benghazi: Scandal or Blunders?
Benghazi is a major story because of its national security ramifications, and because no one has been held accountable. Four Americans were murdered in cold blood (including the American ambassador to Libya). Several calls for help were made, both in the months prior, as well as that very night—the 11th anniversary of 9/11—but no military assets were ordered into the area to attempt a rescue. A few special operators were on the ground, but there were far too few. If diplomats and State Department personnel cannot rely on their government for protection, it compromises the safety and security of American operations abroad. The Obama administration has attempted to bury the story, calling it a phony scandal, and the media have mostly complied. Some reporters have kept digging for the truth, as has AIM’s Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi, which is making important discoveries that could lead to answers to some of the many unanswered questions.
3. Pope Francis is TIME’s Person of the Year. Why?
Pope Francis was named TIME magazine’s Person of the Year. It is a significant story because of Pope Francis’ recent tours and speeches to bolster the Catholic Church in a changing world, where religion is frowned upon in many academic and professional circles. The Pope has made the Catholic Church relevant again, and has encouraged more openness to the people. Some see the selection as political, since recent statements by the Pope have seemed to be a direct attack on capitalism and free enterprise. But there is no doubt this Pope is popular.
4. IRS Targeting of Conservative groups
The IRS scandal has taken a back seat to several other stories, but it is important nonetheless. Obama’s IRS specifically targeted Tea Party and other conservative groups for their activities, while largely leaving liberal groups alone. As a result, it may have swayed the 2012 presidential elections in Obama’s favor. The Obama team has tried blaming lower level employees, while expressing regret and outrage, yet later they called it a phony scandal. By pointing to a couple of progressive groups that were also supposedly flagged, the media tried to say it was bipartisan. But the degree of intrusive scrutiny applied to conservative groups was vastly different than that applied to liberal groups. Once again, Obama claimed to know nothing until he heard it in the news, along with everyone else. But it was soon revealed that his top political aides knew, as did his White House attorney.
5. Edward Snowden and the NSA spying scandal
Edward Snowden: hero or villain? This is the question Americans have been asking themselves since the former National Security Agency (NSA) employee went public with revelations that the NSA had been spying on Americans and their allies. But, now that he is living in Russia (that being one of the only countries that would grant him political asylum), it is doubtful that his intentions were either patriotic or innocent. As a result, America’s allies are critical of Obama’s NSA overreach and the enlargement of the American surveillance machinery.
6. Government Shutdown
The government shutdown in September was a media-induced hoopla, which in the end did not affect services very much. But, the Obama administration made a point of visual, public and unnecessary inconveniences, such as closing the Washington, D.C. World War II Memorial to veterans. Images of elderly veterans, confined to wheelchairs, going past the barricades quickly convinced the Park Service to reverse their closure of the memorial. In the end, the media shamed the Republicans while praising the Democrats, who cynically orchestrated the shutdown by refusing to negotiate in the first place.
7. Obama’s Syria “Red Line” Debacle
Obama was publicly embarrassed when he reneged on his declared “red line” on Syria’s use of chemical weapons. While the Syrian government forces under President Bashar al-Assad apparently used chemical weapons, Obama kowtowed and allowed Russia to take charge of dismantling the chemical weapons stockpile, and thus put Russia back into a key role in Middle East politics. This move undercut the actions of American allies in the Middle East region, such as Turkey, Israel and Saudi Arabia, who supported the Syrian rebels against Assad’s forces. Obama, again, did not live up to his promise of holding the Syrian regime accountable.
8. Obama’s DOJ Unleashed on Opponents, Reporters
Freedom of the press was threatened and under attack when it was revealed that Obama’s Department of Justice, headed by Attorney General Eric Holder, tapped into the phone lines of the Associated Press to find out their sources for certain stories. As a result, this move intimidated sources that might tell the Associated Press and other media organizations certain information. In addition, the DOJ named James Rosen of Fox News as a criminal co-conspirator in a search warrant, thus criminalizing investigative reporting. When that was revealed, it also made clear that Holder had lied to Congress the week before, when he said, “In regard to potential prosecution of the press for the disclosure of material. This is not something I’ve ever been involved in, heard of, or would think would be wise policy.” These moves were condemned by major news outlets, but quickly died as the media moved onto another topic of the day.
9. Boston Marathon Bombing and Tamerlan Tsarnaev
The Boston Marathon bombing was another tragedy on American soil, where Islamist brothers from Chechnya used pressure cooker bombs to maim and kill Americans at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. A massive, city-wide manhunt ensued, in which the older Tsarnaev brother was killed and the younger one was wounded. The news misreported the culprits and suspects, in addition to CNN declaring that the bombers were found before they actually were. The media were quick to decide that this was not Islamic terrorism, even though both brothers were deeply involved with radical Islamic people, videos and reading material.
10. George Zimmerman Trial
The George Zimmerman trial was another liberal media attempt to stoke racial tension and violence. A young, black teenager named Trayvon Martin was killed by Zimmerman, an Hispanic-American. The details were sketchy and Zimmerman was ultimately found not guilty, but the media tried to stir up racial tensions with their news coverage, and to convict Zimmerman in the court of public opinion. President Barack Obama also entered into racial politics when he said that if he had a son, he would look like Travyon Martin. No riots took place, but the media escaped criticism again.