Fox News is falsely suggesting a new Weekly Standard article proves the CIA didn't link the Benghazi attacks to an anti-Islam YouTube video. In fact, CIA talking points obtained by the conservative magazine actually demonstrate the intelligence community believed there was a link between the attacks and reactions to the video.
Conservative writer Stephen Hayes' piece for The Weekly Standard reported that an initial September 14 draft of talking points by the CIA's Office of Terrorism Analysis stated that members of an al Qaeda-linked terrorist group were involved in the Benghazi attacks, but that point was later removed by administration officials. Hayes provided images of various versions of the CIA's talking points, including a bullet in "Version 1" stating: "We believe based on currently available information that the attacks in Benghazi were spontaneously inspired by the protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and evolved into a direct assault against the U.S. Consulate and subsequently its annex."
In the final version of the document, that bullet read:
The currently available information suggests that the demonstrations in Benghazi were spontaneously inspired by the protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and evolved into a direct assault against the U.S. diplomatic post and subsequently its annex. There are indications that extremists participated in the violent demonstrations.
In his piece, Hayes still criticized the Obama administration for mentioning the YouTube video since the word "video" did not appear in the talking points:
More troubling was the YouTube video. [Ambassador Susan] Rice would spend much time on the Sunday talk shows pointing to this video as the trigger of the chaos in Benghazi. "What sparked the violence was a very hateful video on the Internet. It was a reaction to a video that had nothing to do with the United States." There is no mention of any "video" in any of the many drafts of the talking points.
However, as Media Matters noted, the CIA's reference to the Benghazi attack being "inspired by the protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo" proves that the intelligence community itself believed that a link existed between the attacks and the film. The "protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo" were part of a series of global riots and protests in Muslim countries that were partly in response to increased awareness of the anti-Islam video. As prior media reports have noted, Ambassador Rice used the CIA's information during numerous television interviews on September 16.
In recent days, Fox News has used the Standard piece to suggest the intelligence community didn't believe the attacks and the anti-Islam videos were linked.
Fox News' coverage of the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum dedication overwhelmingly featured former Bush administration personnel. According to a Media Matters review, 71 percent (12) of guest appearances about President Bush's library and legacy were by former Bush White House personnel, while just 29 percent (5) were not affiliated with Bush.
Fox's heavy tilt toward former Bush personnel helped result in coverage that lionized his administration and pushed myths and falsehoods about his legacy. Fox also aired a softball interview with Bush by his former press secretary, Dana Perino. Presidential historians and veteran reporters previously told Media Matters that reporting about the Bush library and legacy shouldn't "whitewash" his record.
Former Bush White House personnel who made at least one guest appearance on Fox News included press secretary Dana Perino, counselor Dan Bartlett, counselor Ed Gillespie, chief of staff Joshua Bolten, chief of staff Andy Card, special assistant and photographer Eric Draper, and deputy chief of staff Karl Rove, along with former President Bush and former First Lady Laura Bush.
Methodology: Media Matters searched the Nexis and TVEyes.com databases for mentions of "Bush" on Fox News from April 22 through April 25. We only counted segments primarily focused on Bush's library and legacy. Media Matters did not count reports by Fox News correspondents as guest appearances.
Fox News celebrated the dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum by lionizing his administration and employing myths and falsehoods to defend his legacy. Fox News also conducted softball interviews with Bush (by his "biggest fan") and his former officials to rehab his image.
Fox News host Andrea Tantaros stepped into well-debunked territory about President Obama purportedly having once been a Muslim. Tantaros said on her radio program that Muslims view ex-Muslims poorly, and "some have said that's President Obama, who even writes in his own book that he went to a Muslim school, he had a Muslim stepfather, he was educated in the Muslim faith, and now we have an effort by so many on the left and many in the media to ignore radical Islam."
In reality, as his website notes, President Obama "has never been a Muslim, was not raised as a Muslim, and is a committed Christian." Conservative media have spent years promoting the claim that Obama is or was a Muslim to attack him and his policies. Fox News and its commentators have repeatedly questioned the president's faith and promoted falsehoods about Obama's religious background, including the false claim that he attended a "madrassa."
From the April 25 edition of Talk Radio Network's The Andrea Tantaros Show:
BILL MAHER (CLIP): There's only one faith that kills you, or wants to kill you if you renounce the faith. An ex-Muslim is a very dangerous thing. Talk to Salman Rushdie after the show about Christian versus Islam. So, you know, I'm just saying, let's keep it real.
TANTAROS: "An ex-Muslim is a very dangerous thing." Well, because they can give you an inside look. And actually in the Muslim faith, that is worse, being an ex-Muslim because you've turned on the religion. They talk about war on the infidel, but what about the war on the apostate, the person who knows the Muslim faith and then turns from it. Is Bill Maher right? Some have said that's President Obama, who even writes in his own book that he went to a Muslim school, he had a Muslim stepfather, he was educated in the Muslim faith, and now we have an effort by so many on the left and so many in the media to ignore radical Islam, let alone -- I mean they try not to offend them, god forbid we teach about Islam in our schools so people know the history of it and our kids don't tolerate things like terrorista license plates. But now they're ignoring the ties to radical Islam. You know, George Carlin famously used to joke, the comedian, about the seven words you can't say on air? Well now Islam and Muslim are two of those words that you can add to the list.
Fox News host Brian Kilmeade thinks he's found the explanation for how someone was able to set off bombs at the Boston Marathon: President Obama's supposed policy of "disengaging from the Middle East."
Kilmeade linked the alleged actions of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar to President Obama's foreign policy during his April 19 radio program. Kilmeade stated: "We had a guy in yesterday that worked with Richard Holbrooke and Hillary Clinton and he's so disappointed that we're disengaging from the Middle East. But you talk to these radicals in the Middle East and they say, 'America, don't get involved, leave us alone.' So like it or not, this president has left them alone. And guess what happens? Now the IEDs are blowing up in our streets. So what are we supposed to learn from that?"
NBC News has reported that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was born in Kyrgyzstan and became a naturalized American citizen on Sept. 11, 2012, while his late older brother, Tamerlan, killed during a recent firefight with law enforcement, was born in Russia. They reportedly came to the United States in 2002 or 2003 with their family, which is of Chechen origin.
From the April 19 edition of Fox News Radio's Kilmeade & Friends:
KILMEADE: Joe, how much are you shocked that a guy who came here when he was nine -- at nineteen, is out to blow up Americans?
CALLER: I'm not. I'm not shocked at all. I think it's -- I think it's a societal issue, I think that there's a -- that there's a definite view of America that's propagated by the political system that's going on now, and I'm not really shocked that people are disenchanted and have this view we have to, you know, get back at them. It's unfortunate, it shouldn't be that way, but you know, with an administration like we have now, and the propaganda that's going on, it just helps these people to further their psychosis.
KILMEADE: Yeah, it is two things going on. And it's got to be frustrating. We had a guy in yesterday that worked with Richard Holbrooke and Hillary Clinton and he's so disappointed that we're disengaging from the Middle East. But you talk to these radicals in the Middle East and they say, "America, don't get involved, leave us alone." So like it or not, this president has left them alone. And guess what happens? Now the IEDs are blowing up in our streets. So what are we supposed to learn from that?
Kilmeade, who also co-hosts Fox News' Fox & Friends, is hardly an authority on foreign policy or national security issues. Kilmeade has misled his audience about Iraq war intelligence, claimed (repeatedly) that "all terrorists are Muslims," and once remarked that Sen. John McCain "should not be allowed to talk on torture" because "he was tortured."
Fox News host Oliver North is attacking President Barack Obama for visiting Boston to attend a memorial service for the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing, suggesting that his visit could hurt the bombing investigation.
North wrote on his Twitter account: "How many law officers were pulled off the marathon massacre investigation to provide protection for Obama in Boston?"
During his visit to Boston, Obama will meet with families of the victims and first responders. Obama has declared a state of emergency in Boston, which allows Massachusetts to receive federal funding to cope with the aftermath of the attack.
While North is apparently criticizing Obama for visiting the site of the bombing, the right-wing media have previously attacked Obama for monitoring disasters from Washington, DC, and for leaving the country following a disaster.
North hosts the Fox News program War Stories but is best known for his central role in the Iran-Contra affair during the Reagan administration. He unsuccessfully ran for the U.S. Senate from Virginia, and has kept active in helping the Republican Party. As a Fox News analyst, North has pushed bogus claims about military affairs and attacked Obama for having "failed as commander-in-chief" and possessing a "core philosophy of being anti-American."
Following the April 15 bombings at the Boston Marathon, radio host Alex Jones was quick to suggest the attacks may have been a "false flag" operation staged by the U.S. government. Jones' reaction is far from surprising; he has made a career out of pushing outlandish conspiracy theories.
Among other conspiracies, Jones has blamed the U.S. government for perpetrating, coordinating, or otherwise being involved in the 9-11 attacks, the Aurora movie theater shooting, the Sandy Hook elementary school massacre, the Oklahoma City bombing, and the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster. But despite Jones' well-known history, he is regularly validated by conservative media figures, politicians, and prominent activists that frequent his program, as well as by right-wing websites that promote his work and mainstream outlets that host him on their networks.
In recent years, former Rep. Ron Paul and current Sen. Rand Paul; Fox News figures Lou Dobbs and Andrew Napolitano; gun activists Ted Nugent and Larry Pratt; and climate misinformer Marc Morano have all repeatedly appeared on Jones' show. His immensely popular website Infowars is also frequently promoted by conservative websites like The Drudge Report.
Shortly following the April 15 Boston attacks, Jones tweeted that "our hearts go out to those that are hurt or killed," but added that "this thing stinks to high heaven" and suggested it was a "false flag" operation.
On a special webcast of his show that aired the night of April 15, Jones elaborated on his suggestion, saying, "You saw them stage Fast and Furious. Folks, they staged Aurora, they staged Sandy Hook. The evidence is just overwhelming. And that's why I'm so desperate and freaked out. This is not fun, you know, getting up here telling you this. Somebody's got to tell you the truth."
As Jones uses yet another national tragedy to push baseless, absurd conspiracy theories, it's worth asking whether there's anything he can say or do to lead media figures, politicians and activists to stop validating him.
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Fox News contributor Dr. Keith Ablow told a Tea Party rally that they're like "slaves" who have become "enslaved by the notion of ever-increasing taxes," health care reform, and gun laws. Ablow told the crowd that those grievances "can't stand, because slaves always revolt."
Ablow spoke at an April 13 Tax Day Tea Party Rally in Boston. In a video of the speech posted to YouTube, Ablow, who was billed as a "FOX NEWS expert on psychiatry," attacked President Obama as someone who is psychologically damaged because he was "abandoned" as a child (a frequent critique by Ablow).
Near the end of his remarks, Ablow invoked slavery:
ABLOW: Dependency on anything, a drug or the government, does not last. It can't last because deep in our souls, we know that only independence works. Not far from here, my mentor, Ted Nadelson, once told me, "You know, the thing with slaves is you can't keep them, they always revolt." And that's what's going to happen here. Enslaved by the notion of ever-increasing taxes; told that we can't spend our money, even the money we do take home, the way we want to; told that adulthood starts at 25 [a reference to the Affordable Care Act allowing dependents to stay insured until age 26], if ever; told that nobody really should be able to hold a firearm and know that he can, or she, can defend his family or her family, if push comes to shove. That can't stand, because slaves always revolt.
Ablow has a long history of launching incendiary attacks against progressives and dispensing "pop-psychology nonsense" as a member of Fox's purported "Medical A-Team." Ablow once blamed the rise of conspiracies about President Obama's birth certificate on Obama supposedly "sever[ing] himself from all core emotion." Following the 2012 vice presidential debate, Ablow claimed that Vice President Joe Biden may be suffering from dementia. And Ablow regularly launches anti-LGBT attacks that, in the words of an American Psychiatric Association fellow, "have little basis in current clinical practices."
Fox News contributor Scott Brown reportedly said he's not "done with politics" and refused to rule out running for New Hampshire's U.S. Senate seat in 2014. Brown has followed the well-trodden path of other Fox-favored politicians by signing with the conservative network, which has afforded him a paycheck and a national platform while allowing him to consider future runs for political office.
Since signing with Fox News in February, Brown has been a regular presence across the network and Fox Business. His most high-profile stint came on April 1, when he guest hosted The O'Reilly Factor and delivered an opening commentary built off of a Republican press release.
Brown reportedly told media gathered at a New Hampshire non-profit event yesterday, "I don't think I'm done with politics." When asked if he is considering running for office in New Hampshire, Brown -- who owns a home in New Hampshire -- replied: "I'm not going to rule out anything right now, because I really haven't thought a heck of a lot about it."
While Brown reportedly said yesterday he won't rule out "anything right now" in New Hampshire, he appeared to take a different approach last month. When asked during a March 11 press conference if he would "rule out any sort of political race in New Hampshire," Brown replied: "Yeah, it's something I read about actually and was a little bit surprised about. Certainly my mom lives there, my sister lives there, I have a house there, and I have a lot of good feelings about New Hampshire. But Massachusetts is my home, and if I do anything in the future, it'll most likely be in Massachusetts."
Brown has also recently said that he's "thinking about" running for Massachusetts governor next year, telling a local Fox affiliate in February: "Of course I'm thinking about it. I'm thinking about a lot of different thing. But right now the best thing I can do for myself and for my peace of mind and I think for the people of Massachusetts is just to hang tight and recharge and be active." A report in the Boston Globe last month indicated such a run isn't likely for Brown.
Fox News host Eric Bolling criticized conservatives for pushing recent conservative darling Dr. Benjamin Carson as the next Republican presidential nominee. Bolling said that while Carson is "a great conservative" that could have a role in the next Republican administration, he has "no political experience," and "the right is just so desperately grasping for anyone that makes sense, they threw this poor guy into the fire."
Carson has recently been at the center of a controversy over offensive comments he made about marriage equality during an appearance on Sean Hannity's Fox News program. Hannity has been at the forefront of Fox News' efforts to recruit Carson as a 2016 candidate.
During an April 1 appearance on Cumulus Media Networks' Geraldo, Bolling was asked to respond to the controversy over Carson's recent remarks on Fox News and replied:
BOLLING: As far as Dr. Carson, yes, a lot of people are saying he's the, you know, he should be the Republican candidate for president in 2016. I've said from the very beginning, on The Five and anywhere else, he's a great conservative. He has a role somewhere in a Republican administration, and a conservative voice, but how in the world can you take a guy who's really had no political experience, maybe just a couple of speeches, and say he's going to be the next Republican candidate for president? The right is just so desperately grasping for anyone that makes sense, they threw this poor guy into the fire.
Now he probably didn't realize that he was walking into the same sort of buzzsaw that some of the other Republicans over, you know, over the last cycle ran into. Look, these aren't the issues. What every Republican should, or conservative should do is focus on the economy. Focus on jobs. Focus on -- the government is taking more and more of your hard-earned tax money and wasting it. Those are the issues that Republicans need to worry about, not the social issues. But he didn't -- again, if he wants to make a run for president, he better get some very, very smart handlers.
Bolling's colleagues at Fox News and The Wall Street Journal -- which, like Fox, is owned by News Corp. -- have devoted substantial time and energy to touting Carson as a Republican presidential contender.