In April 2009, a mere three months into President Obama's term, Fox News manufactured the mythical talking point that while overseas on a European tour that month, Obama apologized for America. Since then, this lie has been echoed by virtually every Fox News personality and other conservative media figures, as well as by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
Not only has Romney made the false charge in campaign speeches and ads, he also repeated the lie during the last presidential debate on October 23. But even though fact-checkers and media analysts have persistently pointed out that Obama has never issued an apology for America, Fox's three-year attempt to hide the truth goes on.
Here's a look through the last three years of the "apology tour" myth that Fox News built:
NBC's David Gregory showed Mitt Romney claiming that President Obama said he would lower unemployment to 5.2 percent and presented this statement as representative of Obama's economic record. But independent fact-checkers have rated the charge that Obama promised an unemployment rate of around 5 percent as false and misleading.
While economists working with Obama projected in 2009 that one version of a stimulus bill would lower the unemployment to that level, the severity of the recession wasn't fully understood at that time, and Obama never promised that level of unemployment would be achieved.
While interviewing White House senior adviser David Plouffe on Sunday's Meet The Press, Gregory aired a clip of Romney saying during a stump speech that President Obama said he would "bring the unemployment rate down to 5.2 percent by now" and that "unemployment today is higher than when Barack Obama took office." Gregory said Romney's argument was that "the unemployment rate [is] higher than when the president took office."
Gregory then paraphrased Romney's message as, "if you've got anxiety about the economy, this is the president's record -- you have to be disappointed."
Romney's statement is a reference to a report produced by Obama's economic advisers in January 2009, before Obama took office, predicting that unemployment would be near 5 percent in 2012 and that it would not exceed 8 percent if the stimulus was passed. But the report was produced before the release of data showing the recession was much worse than was thought at the time.
Indeed, in August 2011, the Bureau of Economic Analysis estimated that real gross domestic product had declined by 8.9 percent during the fourth quarter of 2008 -- over twice as much as BEA's initial estimate of 3.8 percent. These revisions made the economic contraction in 2008 the worst single-quarter decline in GDP since 1958.
Estimates from the Congressional Budget Office, the White House Council of Economic Advisers, and independent economists show that Obama's stimulus plan significantly raised employment and increased GDP, and lowered the unemployment rate from the recession's peak. There are also more Americans employed now than when Obama took office in January 2009.
Fox News chief national correspondent Jim Angle provided a misleading fact check of Mitt Romney's ad claiming that Chrysler is sending a Jeep production line to China. Angle cherry picked a line from Chrysler's CEO to portray Romney's ad as accurate. In fact, Chrysler has made it clear that Romney's claims are false.
In response to Romney's Jeep-to-China television ad, Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne sent an email to shareholders on October 30 explaining that Romney's claim is "inaccurate" and "Jeep production will not be moved from the United States to China." Marchionne added that Chrysler is planning to "return Jeep production to China, the world's largest auto market, in order to satisfy local market demand," and explained that Chrysler intends to add Jeep jobs in the United States.
But during his "fact check" of Romney's ad on America Live on Friday, Angle claimed that "the head of Fiat-Chrysler confirmed exactly what the Romney ad said," because the company stated it "had intended to return Jeep production to China, the world's largest auto market in order to satisfy local market demand."
Marchionne's statement was not the only one issued rebutting Romney's claims. In a statement on October 25, Chrysler wrote on its website that "Jeep has no intention of shifting production of its Jeep models out of North America to China." The Romney campaign went ahead with its television ad in Ohio on October 27 despite this statement. Then, on October 30, Romney doubled down on the Jeep attack on Tuesday with a radio ad in Toledo, Ohio, the site of a Jeep plant. That same day, Marchionne sent his email to Chrysler shareholders.
In addition to Chrysler, there has been strong criticism from GM, fact checkers, and local media in Ohio of Romney's false claims that Jeep is sending U.S. jobs to China. On Tuesday, GM spokesman Greg Martin stated: "No amount of campaign politics at its cynical worst will diminish our record of creating jobs in the U.S. and repatriating profits back to this country." PolitiFact rated Romney's claim "pants on fire" false, and The Washington Post's resident fact checker, Glenn Kessler, gave the ad "four Pinocchios."
Fox previously attempted to hide the backlash to Romney's ad.
Fox personalities are attempting to discredit the October jobs report before its release on November 2 by suggesting that if the unemployment rate drops as it did in September, the numbers may have been manipulated by the Obama administration. In fact, there is no evidence to suggest the government's numbers are manipulated.
Fox figures claim that many federal disability benefit payments are fraudulent because the number of people in the program has increased under the Obama administration. In fact, improper payments of disability benefits are minimal and experts agree the higher levels of disability benefits are a direct result of the recession.
Conservative commentator and frequent Fox News guest Ann Coulter defended her repeated use of the derogatory term "retard" on Thursday, saying the word is simply a synonym for words like idiot and moron. In fact, the word is widely considered a slur and disability advocates argue it is hate speech.
Appearing as a guest on Alan Colmes' Fox News Radio show, Coulter stated she did not regret her use of the word, saying that "no one would refer to a down syndrome child, someone with an actual medical handicap, by saying retard." She added: "Where do you think the words idiot, imbecile, cretin, moron, come from? These were all technical terms at one time. Retard has been used colloquially to just mean 'loser' for 30 years."
In an October 22 post on her Twitter feed following the presidential debate, Coulter wrote: "I highly approve of Romney's decision to be kind and gentle to the retard," presumably a reference to President Obama. The next day she again tweeted that if Obama is "'the smartest guy in the room' it must be one retarded room." In an email to Politiker defending her remarks, she wrote: "The only people who will be offended are too retarded to understand it."
But many agree that the word is meant only to demean and should be considered hateful speech.
Huffington Post blogger Ellen Seidman, who has a son with special needs, says that while it's not true that "anyone who uses the word flippantly has something against people with special needs," the word is demeaning "even if it's meant as a joke, because it spreads the idea that people who are cognitively impaired are either stupid or losers."
Analyzing the fact that the word is now being increasingly avoided, NPR reported that disability advocates have continually campaigned against the word, arguing that "it's not a hilarious put-down; it's hate speech."
Organizations like the American Psychiatric Association still use the medical phrase "mental retardation," so the term "retard" is culturally understood to be associated with mental disability, regardless of context. What distinguishes the term from the other words Coulter cited, such as idiot and cretin, is that unlike "retard," they do not necessarily denote mental disability.
However, CNN reports that even the APA "plans to replace the term 'mental retardation' with 'intellectual development disorder'" in the 2013 edition of their manual.
Following Mitt Romney's repeated claims during the presidential debate that he largely agrees with President Obama on foreign policy, mainstream media adopted the narrative that little separates the candidates on this issue. In fact, this narrative allows Romney to disavow extreme positions.
During the October 22 presidential debate, conservative media took to Twitter to launch personal attacks against President Obama in an attempt to criticize his performance and distract from Mitt Romney's lies.
Conservative commentator Ann Coulter referred to Obama as "the retard":
Fox News contributor Stephen Hayes wrote, "Seems to me President Obama's condescension has crossed the line from aggressive to disrespectful. Will voters like him mocking Romney?"
Fox Business aired a graphic that set an image of CNN's Candy Crowley on fire in what seemed to be continuing efforts to demonize her for her debate fact check on the attack in Libya.
During the October 16 presidential debate, Crowley corrected Mitt Romney's false claim that President Obama waited 14 days before calling the attack in Benghazi an act of terror. In fact, as Crowley noted, Obama referred to the attack as terrorism on September 12.
As a result, conservative media have denounced Crowley as a terrorist, assassin, and communist. And in what seemed to be a continuation of Fox's attacks on her, Fox Business aired a graphic of a burning image of Crowley. On-screen text beneath the image read: "Nothing moderate about moderation":
As the image flashed on-screen, host Lou Dobbs stated: "It's been a tough year for presidential debate moderators." He then aired video of Crowley's debate fact check, but did not address the image.
Conservative media's backlash against Crowley's actions during the debate have included denying the fact that Obama referred to Benghazi as an act of terror and falsely claiming that Crowley walked back her remarks following the debate.
Fox News today promoted a campaign ad from pro-Republican super PAC American Crossroads that deceptively edited footage from Obama administration officials to claim that they have purposely misled the public about the deadly attack in Benghazi, Libya.
The ad opens with the recent presidential debate exchange on Libya between President Obama and Republican candidate Mitt Romney, in which Romney falsely claimed that Obama waited 14 days before labeling the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi an act of terror. After airing footage of several Obama officials talking about an anti-Islam video that fueled protests around the Middle East, the ad cuts to CNN's Candy Crowley, the moderator of the October 16 debate, purportedly agreeing with Romney's claim.
On Fox News' The Five, co-host Andrea Tantaros introduced the ad by saying that it "clearly illustrates the contradiction that this administration has done so far with regard to the Libya story." Tantaros later claimed that the Obama administration has "told us so many different stories," the ad "really is the best way to lay it out."
In fact, as Slate's David Weigel illustrated, the ad attempts to "change the record" by omitting remarks Ambassador Susan Rice made to NBC's David Gregory, giving the false impression that she blamed the attack on a U.S. Consulate in Benghazi on an anti-Muslim video:
When Gregory asked Rice whether terrorism occured in Banghazi [sic], Rice did not mumble about the video. She offered some disclaimers then said that "opportunistic extremist elements came to the consulate." The idea that Rice foolishly claimed that the attack was part of a video protest, and nothing more, is a myth that only comes true with sketchy edits.
Indeed, during her interview on NBC and in other interviews on September 16, Rice repeatedly stated that she wanted not to jump to conclusions because an FBI investigation into the attack was ongoing.