MEDIA
11/11/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Mike Huckabee Floats Theory of "Economic Terrorism," Other Crazy Things on Fox News

Did you know that the recent financial crisis could actually be the result of economic terrorism? Or that Congress took off after the bailout vote to get an early jump on Christmas shopping? Or that the Chinese might be drilling off the coast of Florida right now?

If you were tuned into Mike Huckabee's new talk show, "Huckabee," last night on Fox News, you'd have every reason to think so, since all three theories were floated without any argument to the contrary. Oh, also, Barack Obama apparently supports a Culture of Death.

I'll take all these in turn. The most potentially damaging claim was Huckabee's suggestion that the U.S. financial markets are being deliberately targeted by economic terrorists. His source for this is his friend — unnamed and unidentified other than Huck's explanation that he's "in the financial markets." Here's the claim:

Just today, a friend of mine in the financial markets indicated that he's been doing a careful analysis of the last 12 days, and there seems to be a manipulation of the marketplace - at the last half-hour of each day, there is an extraordinary rush of computerized trading going on. He believes that there may, in fact, be evidence of economic terrorism that is fueling a lot of what's going on. Now it's a fascinating idea, that if somebody could break down the world economy, it would have a greater impact that any bomb ever set off. It seems to be there is plausible argument for it.

Oh, totally plausible! Especially based on all the evidence you presented. That's some crack reporting there, Mike! Actually, this is a wholly speculative and totally unsubstantiated theory and, as such, is horrendously irresponsible to float on national television at a time of such serious market fragility. I'd say thank God no one watches him, except that he debuted with 2.01 million viewers. This is how rumors get started. Just ask Steve Jobs.

(And that was a random CNN iReport contributor. This is a prime-time host. Who ran for president.)

And that's not all! Huckabee floated the theory to noted financial expert Chuck Norris, who was on to promote his book, "Black Belt Patriotism." Norris agreed with Huckabee — and then launched into his own theory:

CHUCK: Oh yeah, I think - oh definitely, Mike. The thing is, China has one and a half trillion dollars* of our debt. Now, what did we give China for collateral for that one and a half trillion dollars? So the thing is, you know, with our government - what did - what secret deal did they get, give China, said, 'Well, you know, ah, we won't tell the people but you can drill 50 miles off the Florida shore, and do a slant drilling into our oil in Florida,' you know - so a lot of things are going on underhandedly that we the people don't know, and that's why it's so important, Mike, that we the people get the power back. We need a voter revolution in our country. (audience applause)

HUCK: You'll be happy to know that our audience is certainly agreeing with you strongly here in New York.

Nowhere did Huckabee ask Chuck to substantiate the theory in any part (it's pretty detailed after all). Instead, he just affirmed Norris via the audience. Here's the full video:

Huckabee, however, let all of that pass without comment — just as he did earlier in the show in a segment ironically called "Are You Smarter Than Your Congressman?" Here, Huckabee tapped an audience member, NY comedian Sherrod Small, asking him about the recess Congress took at the end of September for Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish High Holiday. Anyone glued to the TV during the bailout crisis knows that the ultra-dramatic House vote on September 29th was made even more dramatic by the impending deadline of the Jewish holiday, which commenced that night. Alas, Sherrod was not so informed:

PELOSI (video): But my colleagues, as you go home and see your families and observe the holiday and the rest, don't get settled in too far. Because as long as the Americ - this challenge is there for the American people, the threat of losing their jobs, their credit, their savings, their retirement, the opportunity for them to send their children to college - as long as in the households of America, this crisis is being felt very immediately, and being addressed at a different level --"

HUCK: Okay Sherrod, are you smarter than a Congressman? What would YOU have said instead of what we just heard Ms. Pelosi say?
SHERROD: Well, first of all, what she said was, 'Before you go home and enjoy your holidays and buy gifts and a Christmas tree, and turkeys, just keep in mind that some people are losing everything.' Which I think was the wrong thing to say. I would have said, before we go on vacation, let's straighten all this out.
HUCK: Yeah. I think that might be a good idea.
SHERROD: [inaudible]...before we go buy a Christmas tree.
HUCK: Sherrod, I think you ARE smarter than a Congressman.

I can't think of a more appropriate response here than this: OY. Not only is Sherrod clearly NOT smarter than a Congressman (in this case, Pelosi), but it doesn't seem that Huckabee is, either. Either he's (a) a tad intolerant for implying that Jewish House members should not have observed Rosh Hashanah (b) clueless for not knowing that was the reason for the recess, or (c) a crap host for going along with the wrong answer. Either way, that doesn't do much for promoting accuracy in broadcasting. Here's the video:

And if that's not enough — ladies and gentlemen, Obama's Culture of Death! Huckabee welcomed two pastors to his show, McCain supporter Reverend Stephen Broden and Obama supporter Reverend Myron Cloyd, on to discuss whether the clergy ought to endorse a candidate. Rev. Broden said absolutely, because his parishioners need to know which one is pro-infanticide. Seriously:

REV. BRODEN: My congregation is interested to know what does God say about abortion? And if, in fact, Barack Obama is in support of in infanticide and abortion, then they want to know that. And they want to know, should I vote for a man who is obviously supporting an issue or a concern that is the antithesis of what we believe in the Bible? And so once they understood that Barack Obama supports the issues that support the culture of death, they don't want to vote for a man who supports that.

Huckabee nodded during this exchange, and at no point sought to clarify Obama's position as articulated by Broden. To his credit, he did turn the next question to Rev. Cloyd, who expressed general support for Obama but failed to address the infanticide misrepresentation.

I was struck by the carelessness with which Huckabee allowed misrepresentations, untruths and completely unsupported speculation to be broadcast unchecked during his show. As both a former presidential candidate and the host of an hour-long prime-time show, I would have expected more rigorous attention to facts and accuracy. As you can see from the four separate and distinct examples above, the half-baked non-facts run the gamut from ridiculous to slanderous to potentially dangerous. Huckabee has a duty and a responsibility to be better informed — and make sure his audience leaves him that way, too.

TRANSCRIPTS:


Huck's Theory of Economic Terrorism, and Chuck's theory of, um, I'm not really sure:

HUCK: Just today, a friend of mine in the financial markets indicated that he's been doing a careful analysis of the last 12 days, and there seems to be a manipulation of the marketplace - at the last half-hour of each day, there is an extraordinary rush of computerized trading going on. He believes that there may, in fact, be evidence of economic terrorism that is fueling a lot of what's going on. Now it's a fascinating idea, that if somebody could break down the world economy, it would have a greater impact that any bomb ever set off. It seems to be there is plausible argument for it. I know that this is not just some guy out there reading the internet pages, this is a person who owns a financial company. Chuck, do you not see that if we had something of this magnitude going on, it would have a dramatic impact not just on politics but on the economy of the world - have you ever thought of terrorism being an economic form of terrorism?

CHUCK: Oh yeah, I think - oh definitely, Mike. The thing is, China has one and a half trillion dollars of our debt. Now, what did we give China for collateral for that one and a half dollars? So the thing is, you know, with our government - what did - what secret deal did they get, give China, said, 'Well, you know, ah, we won't tell the people but you can drill 50 miles off the Florida shore, and do a slant drilling into our oil in Florida, you know - so a lot of things are going on underhandedly that we the people don't know, and that's why it's so important, Mike, that we the people get the power back. We need a voter revolution in our country. (audience applause)

HUCK: You'll be happy to know that our audience is certainly agreeing with you strongly here in New York.


Huckabee Seems Oblivious To The Jewish Holiday:

HUCK: All right! We have hand-picked some contestants, and our first is a New York comedian, Sherrod Small. Sherrod, we're going to play the game, are you ready for this?
SHERROD: I'm ready for it! I could do this in my sleep.
HUCK: Please don't go to sleep on me right now. Well, while addressing Congress just before the original version of the $700 billion bailout bill, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi urged her fellow Congressional members to treat the economic crisis with urgency - but after they went home first. Let's watch:

PELOSI (video): But my colleagues, as you go home and see your families and observe the holiday and the rest, don't get settled in too far. Because as long as the Americ - this challenge is there for the American people, the threat of losing their jobs, their credit, their savings, their retirement, the opportunity for them to send their children to college - as long as in the households of America, this crisis is being felt very immediately, and being addressed at a different level --"

HUCK: Okay Sherrod, are you smarter than a Congressman? What would YOU have said instead of what we just heard Ms. Pelosi say?
SHERROD: Well, first of all, what she said was, 'Before you go home and enjoy your holidays and buy gifts and a Christmas tree, and turkeys, just keep in mind that some people are losing everything.' Which I think was the wrong thing to say. I would have said, before we go on vacation, let's straighten all this out.
HUCK: Yeah. I think that might be a good idea.
SHERROD: [inaudible]...before we go buy a Christmas tree.
HUCK: Sherrod, I think you ARE smarter than a Congressman.

Huckabee Allows His Guest To Float The 'Obama Infanticide' Smear:

REV. STEPHEN BRODEN: My congregation is interested to know what does God say about abortion? And if, in fact, Barack Obama is in support of in infanticide and abortion, then they want to know that. And they want to know, should I vote for a man who is obviously supporting an issue or a concern that is the antithesis of what we believe in the Bible? And so once they understood that Barack Obama supports the issues that support the culture of death, they don't want to vote for a man who supports that.

*According to Bloomberg, China holds $519 billion of U.S. debt, after Japan's $593 billion: "But China is catching up with $519 billion, making it the second-biggest owner of America's debt as of July, according to the latest numbers from the U.S. Treasury"; but the Atlantic's James Fallows reported last January that China had a trade surplus of $1.4 trillion, "going up by about $1 billion per day--that the Chinese government has mostly parked in U.S. Treasury notes."