Sean Hannity is lashing out at President Bill Clinton for not moving forward with a 1998 missile strike aimed at Osama Bin Laden that the military thought was likely to fail. But that same year, Hannity actually attacked Clinton for approving a different mission to kill bin Laden, claiming he was trying to distract from Monica Lewinsky.
SkyNews Australia recently aired audio of President Clinton stating in a speech shortly before the September 11, 2001 attacks that he "nearly got" bin Laden with a proposed December 1998 cruise missile strike in Kandahar, Afghanistan, but decided not to approve the attack because it would have killed hundreds of innocent Afghans.
Clinton's comments were no revelation -- the 9-11 Commission Report detailed how intelligence and military leaders recommended against the strike, citing significant flaws that included up to 300 civilian casualties, the possible destruction of a nearby mosque, and low likelihood of killing bin Laden.
But on the July 31 edition of his Fox News show, Hannity responded to the audio by lashing out at Clinton, saying that the former president "didn't do it and look what happened to this country as a result just one day later. America changed forever on 9/11/2001. What Bill Clinton didn't seem to understand on September 10, 2001, he had a chance to prevent that day of infamy from ever happening."
Hannity's comments stand in stark contrast to his reaction in August 1998, when the Clinton administration responded to al Qaeda bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania by launching cruise missiles at the terrorist group's camps in Afghanistan, "probably" missing Bin Laden himself "by a few hours." Hannity responded at the time by criticizing Clinton, suggesting that the attack may have been an effort to distract the American people from the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Hannity repeatedly referenced "Wag The Dog," a 1997 film in which presidential advisers fabricate a war in order to cover up a presidential sex scandal.
On his August 20, 1998 program -- just hours after the strikes -- Hannity repeatedly asked his guests if they "see a 'Wag the Dog' scenario here." He went on to explain, "I do a radio show here in New York, and this story broke about 2:00, and I was on the air at 3:00, and every line was jammed and every person was saying the same thing, that in their minds, they're thinking the scenario is 'Wag the Dog,' divert attention away from the crisis that is going on in Washington."
Hannity went on to explicitly state that the timing of the attacks was due to "political motivation" (via Nexis):
HANNITY: Congressman, FOX News has learned that the president was presented with the military option going back to August the 12th. The president did not take that option at that time. As a matter of fact, it been done for political motivation.
And I only raise the question because, in part, look at what the president put the nation through for seven and a half months. Look at the president that let his wife and all his supporters lie for him. Look at a president who looked the American people in the eye -- and who could imagine a scenario like this -- wagging their finger at them and said, "I want you to listen to me. I did not have sex with that woman, Monica Lewinsky."
There is no moral authority any longer, Mr. Congressman.
According to the 9-11 Commission, the eight-day delay between when Clinton was first briefed on the Pentagon plans for strikes on August 12 and their execution was due to "considerable debate" over which targets would be hit and the need to inform congressional and international leaders. Ironically, the report also concluded that "the 'wag the dog' slur" was one of several factors that "likely had a cumulative effect on future decisions about the use of force against" bin Laden.
This would not be the last time that Hannity would criticize efforts to stop bin Laden. He was one of many conservatives who criticized then-Sen. Barack Obama by mischaracterizing Obama's campaign trail statement that he would act unilaterally if he received "actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets." As president, with the strong support of then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Obama approved just such a mission, which resulted in bin Laden's death.
Fox News and Fox Business have continued to host former CIA officer and CBS News analyst Michael Scheuer after he endorsed the assassination of President Obama. Scheuer's latest appearance on the August 1 edition of Fox & Friends suggests his profile on the networks may have escalated in recent months.
Scheuer has a long history of extreme rhetoric and arguably reached his most fevered pitch when he gave his stamp of approval to the idea that Obama, as well as British Prime Minister David Cameron, should be assassinated. Scheuer concluded a December 2013 column with advice for the constituents of Cameron and Obama (emphasis added):
As they head further down the road of losing wars and wrecking Anglo-American liberties, Messrs Obama and Cameron and their supporters in all parties would do well to read the words of the great 17th century English republican Algernon Sidney, a man who was revered on both sides of the Atlantic, who greatly influenced America's founders, and who was executed by the British Crown for what it described as sedition. "There must therefore be a right," Sidney wrote,
"of proceeding judicially or extra-judicially against all persons who transgress the laws; or else those laws, and the societies that should subsist by them, cannot stand; and the ends for which governments are constituted, together with the governments themselves, must be overthrown. ... If he [a political leader] be justly accounted an enemy of all, who injures all; he above all must be the publick enemy of a nation, who by usurping power over them, does the greatest and most publick injury that a people can suffer. For which reason, by an established law among the most virtuous nations, every man might kill a tyrant; and no names are recorded in history with more honor, than of those who did it."
Just 10 days after the column was published, Scheuer appeared on Fox Business' Lou Dobbs Tonight to accuse Hillary Clinton of "effectively murdering" the Americans who died during the 2012 attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya. According to a Media Matters search, Scheuer has appeared on Fox Business at least twice since, on Lou Dobbs Tonight June 9 and on Money July 18.
Fox News Channel -- which hosted Scheuer dozens of times before his validation of attempts to assassinate the president -- has continued to invite Scheuer on in recent months. Fox & Friends Sunday invited the former CIA officer on in June, and after having appeared on the weekday edition of Fox & Friends in February, the show invited him back August 1.
After a National Rifle Association lobbyist equated a proposal to expand background checks to the Nazi policies of Adolf Hitler, a prominent guns rights activist defended the offensive comparison and took it further, comparing gun registration to the Nazi practice of tattooing Jews with identification numbers.
The NRA is under fire after its Washington state lobbyist Brian Judy was heard telling opponents of the state's background check proposal that one of the proposal's primary supporters, who is Jewish, is "stupid" because "he's put half-a-million dollars toward this policy, the same policy that led to his family getting run out of Germany by the Nazis." Judy went on to mock the intelligence of Jewish individuals who support gun safety.
Now Alan Gottlieb, founder of the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) and the chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms (CCRKBA), is coming to Judy's defense.
Gottlieb reacted to Judy's comments on Seattle's CBS affiliate, saying "I don't see anything wrong with those remarks," before comparing the "registration" of Jews with number tattoos during the Holocaust to firearm registration:
ESSEX PORTER, KIRO 7: You're Jewish, are those remarks appropriate?
GOTTLIEB: I don't see anything wrong with those remarks. I mean it's a historical fact that Adolf Hitler registered people's firearms and then confiscated them.
PORTER: Gottlieb says many gun owners see it this way.
GOTTLIEB: Gun owners don't like the idea that Jewish people had to have, you know, numbers tattooed and registered on their arms. They don't like the fact that they have gun owners that get registered either.
Yes or no? Up or down?
It's been a confusing week for professional Obama critics. Suddenly confronted with the topic of impeachment and busy issuing not-quite-believable denials that trying to drive the Democratic president from office has ever been a serious pursuit of the Republican Party or its most aggressive boosters, many members of the far-right press seemed caught off guard by recent developments.
Angered by the fact the White House is highlighting the GOP's ongoing embrace of impeachment and suggesting Republicans might act on the idea if they win control of the U.S. Senate, conservatives have tried to quiet their own crowd, apparently concerned about optics.
But the fever swamp has never been about optics. It's about whipping as many people as possible into a state of narrow-minded outrage on a daily basis. And if that means dipping into the impeachment pool, then so be it.
Now press partisans are caught in no-man's land. Seeing the fundraising success Democrats have had off impeachment, conservative critics angrily deny that Republicans have any interest in impeachment. Yet at the same time they're part of a media movement that thinks Obama should be impeached. (He's a lawless tyrant, in case you hadn't heard.) The contradiction has led to a week of confusion and missteps as the conservative media struggle with how transparent they should be in their loathing of the president, especially if there are indications Democrats are using that rage to their advantage, both politically and financially.
So almost overnight there's been a movement to hush the most strident critics; to urge everyone to take it down a notch because it just doesn't look good.
On Fox News, The Five co-host Greg Gutfeld dismissed impeachment as a "stunt" that's "tossed out by people addicted to [the] splash those stunts make." What kind of people? "Bloggers" and "talking heads," he said. Co-host Andrea Tantaros agreed, bemoaning the fact "There's a movement in talk radio and on the right to profiteer from these wild ideas." (Note that Tantaros still thinks Obama might do something "worthy of impeachment" just to bait Republicans into it.") And colleague Eric Bolling insisted even talk radio hosts had "backed off" the topic because they realized it "sounded a little bit crazy."
But nobody puts Rush Limbaugh and Mark Levin in the corner, so the angry talkers haven't backed down from the impeachment charge. (Levin: "Here's the dead truth -- Obama should be impeached.") And that leaves damage control agents like Tantaros looking a bit foolish: How can impeachment deniers claim the topic's not being treated seriously when two of the most popular radio hosts in right-wing America are doing just that, and demanding their millions of listeners do the same? (For a cheat sheet of Republican politicians who also have also pushed impeachment, see here.)
And that's been the confusing part: The claim nobody on the right's been promoting impeachment (it's all a liberal conspiracy), vs. the acknowledgement that okay, some people have but they're really misguided and irresponsible.
Coal giant Murray Energy's chief executive was promoted on Fox News to express "concern" about coal miners by attacking the Obama Administration's keystone climate change legislation. Here's what wasn't mentioned during the segment -- or any time this year on Fox News prime time: the organization has been fighting an effort to regulate coal dust, which would help save hundreds of coal miners' lives.
The July 31 edition of Fox News' Your World With Neil Cavuto featured coal CEO Bob Murray to attack the Environmental Protection Agency's recently proposed carbon pollution standards. When Fox News host Neil Cavuto asked him to expand on his claim that the standards will "hurt the coal industry," Murray nearly broke down in tears while claiming that the standards will harm the industry with "no environmental benefit at all." He then touted the possibility of "clean coal technology" as a substitute, and stated, "I'm concerned about my coal miners":
Actions speak louder than words: Murray Energy has been fighting a coal dust regulation for months that would help save 1,500 coal miners' lives each year. On April 23, the U.S. Labor Department announced a long-awaited rule to regulate coal dust, which causes the deadly black lung disease; the disease has reportedly killed over 76,000 miners since 1968. The new rule would restrict exposure to coal dust to half of the current limit, a move that is estimated to lower medical bills by about $37 million a year and help save hundreds of lives. Murray Energy announced that it would file a federal lawsuit against the regulation later that day.
Fox News' prime time shows, including Your World With Neil Cavuto, have not mentioned the move to protect coal miners from coal dust, nor Murray Energy's attempt to dismantle it.*
The EPA's carbon standards will reduce the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by coal plants by 30 percent from 2005 levels and are an important effort to mitigate climate change. Their health benefits are expected to help prevent up to 6,600 premature deaths and 150,000 asthma attacks in 2030. Murray Energy is attempting to sue these regulations as well, and its effort has gained support from nine state legislatures.
There was no need for him to sack these people so quickly. There was no guarantee that he'd be dramatically more profitable in, say, March 2013. But he fired them, because he's basically amoral.
*Based on a Nexis search of Fox News primetime shows for "coal dust" from January 1 to July 31.
Fox News contributor Charles Krauthammer chastised House Republicans for their "ridiculous" flip-flopping in the span of a day on their outrage over President Obama's executive actions.
On July 31, Republican House Speaker John Boehner tabled a bill promoted by House leadership aimed at addressing the crisis of undocumented youths at the U.S.-Mexico border, after which he and other Republican House leaders issued a statement saying, "There are numerous steps the president can and should be taking right now, without the need for congressional action." But the day prior, the House approved a Republican plan to sue Obama for allegedly exceeding his constitutional authority by going around Congress to implement certain policies.
Krauthammer said on the July 31 edition of Fox News' Special Report that House Republicans' failure to act on the border crisis was "incomprehensible," calling out "so-called conservatives" who successfully advocated against the bill (emphasis added):
KRAUTHAMMER: The disarray among Republicans makes you pine for the days of earmarks and the rack. That would be one or the other way to get these guys lined up. It is, to me, incomprehensible that Republicans aren't getting together on this -- so-called conservatives opposing the bill. It's very simple. There are two things Americans agree on. You want to help the helpless kids, the ones who are already here in some way, and the appropriation of this bill is not at all extravagant. And the other thing is you want to stop the influx. We all know how that's done, even the president agreed to it originally until he caved in to his left wing and came out against it. That is, you change the '08 law in a very simple way -- two lines. You simply say anybody who enters illegally through the Mexican border will be treated under the law the way Canadians and Mexicans are today. End of story. You do that and you've shown good faith. I agree with Ron, there's not a chance in hell that the Senate will come back or the president will sign it, but at least the Republicans will have shown that they can do something.
It is ridiculous to sue the president on a Wednesday because he oversteps the law, as he has done a dozen times illegally and unconstitutionally, and then on a Thursday say that he should overstep the law, contradict the law that passed in 2008 and deal with this himself.
House Republicans pulled a bill which would increase funding for security at the southern border after conservative media and their allies voiced opposition to it.
The bill, pushed by House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) was tabled after he and House Republican leadership faced "a rebellion among their most conservative ranks," according to the New York Times, who also reported that the failure to pass the bill "ensures that no legislation to address what both Democrats and Republicans call an urgent humanitarian crisis will reach President Obama's desk before the August break." After the measure failed, Republicans met to discuss whether they would bring up another bill before Congress goes into recess or to scrap the legislation entirely. Roll Call reported that "chaos reigned" as it became unclear what Republican leaders would decide to do.
Conservative media darling Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) was reportedly whipping votes in order to stop the bill the night before its introduction, according to a Washington Post report. Cruz appeared on Fox's On the Record with Greta Van Susteren that same night and attacked what he described as "President Obama's amnesty."
Weekly Standard founder and ABC News contributor Bill Kristol wrote a July 31 blog post demanding that the House "kill the bill." He described the bill as "dubious legislation" and argued that passing it would "take the focus off what President Obama has done about immigration."
Conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt agreed with Kristol, writing that the House should "kill the fake border security bill and go home until the House leadership gets serious about passing a real border security bill."
The Drudge Report highlighted opposition to the bill at the top of the site with the headline "Hill Phones Melt As Boehner Pushes Border."
The Drudge headline linked to Breitbart.com, which has repeatedly opposed immigration reform efforts. The story by Matthew Boyle noted that "The American people have overloaded the Congressional phone lines yet again on Thursday, pressuring their members of Congress to vote against the House and Senate immigration bills."
Fox News contributor Erick Erickson argued at his site, RedState, that the bill was flawed because it failed to repeal the Obama administration's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which conservatives incorrectly blame for generating the surge in child migrants from Central America.
Erickson added, "The House GOP should be starting with closing DACA, not telling conservatives they first have to fund the President and then they'll get table scraps" and directed his readers to RedState's "action center" where they could call Congress and demand that "the House GOP must close DACA."
Daily Caller columnist Mickey Kaus promoted a campaign from the anti-immigration group Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) which urged readers to call the U.S. Capitol switchboard in order to speak to their member of Congress and demand "No New Laws" on immigration. Kaus also linked to a list of members and their direct office phone numbers.
Laura Ingraham, a talk radio host and Fox News/ABC News contributor, who has been an anti-immigration reform crusader for years, wrote on Twitter that Boehner had made a "supreme accomplishment" by pushing a bill that "manages to enrage both the political left and conservatives." She later celebrated its defeat.
Republican Senate candidate Scott Brown credited his employment with Fox News for motivating him to run for office again.
During a July 31 appearance on Fox News Radio's Kilmeade & Friends, Brown said of working as a Fox News contributor: "Certainly I loved doing what I was doing, and I think as a result of me being on Fox and being up on the issues, and listening to the false rhetoric out of the administration, really charged me up to get involved again."
The affection appears to be mutual between Fox News and Brown, as host Brian Kilmeade told Brown, "We miss having you on, having you as a contributor."
Brown took advantage of Kilmeade's softball interview to repeatedly plug his website and call for campaign volunteers and donations.
"What's the answer?" Brown asked about problems facing the country. "The answer is to take over the Senate, is to have people get on ScottBrown.com and help donate and help volunteer and let's send a message to the president because he's not up for reelection. But his number one foot soldiers are, folks, so let's get involved. "
He added later: "If people want to help, I'm telling you, it's time, folks. ScottBrown.com, and let's go take back our country."
CNN panelists adopted a framework identical to a Republican attack on Democratic Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes, going so far as to argue that Grimes' recent comments could play into the hands of her Republican critics without once mentioning the actual Republican attacks on Grimes that were already underway.
Huffington Post associate editor Igor Bobic reported on July 30 that Grimes "drew attention" earlier this week when the Kentucky Democrat suggested that Israel's Iron Dome defense system helped Israel resist Hamas forces trying to tunnel into Israel. CNN host John King introduced a discussion on the topic by claiming that first-time national candidates like Grimes have to "head the test on foreign policy." During the discussion, Associated Press political reporter Julie Pace cautioned that the comments could help Grimes' opponent, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell:
PACE: [E]xperience has been one of the things that McConnell's campaign has been going after with her, and this might play into that.
What the CNN panelists never mentioned is that Republican campaign operatives were already attacking Grimes with the exact same framework that formed the basis of the CNN discussion.
National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent lashed out after the cancellation of an upcoming concert, claiming his critics are like Nazi chief propagandist Joseph Goebbels.
On July 21 the Coeur d'Alene Tribe announced that Nugent will not perform at the tribe's Idaho casino on August 4, citing "Nugent's history of racist and hate-filled remarks." The Puyallup Tribe followed suit, cancelling two scheduled concerts at its Washington state Emerald Queen Casino because they didn't want their venue used "to promote his racism."
Nugent, who is also a spokesperson for Outdoor Channel, responded to his critics in his regular column for conspiracy website WND.com, comparing them to an infamous Nazi. While claiming that American Indians are his "BloodBrothers," Nugent wrote that those who lodged complaints against his scheduled performances were part of the "Josef Goebbels gang." He also wrote, "Josef Goebbels and Saul Alinsky would be very proud of them and very angry at me. Cool."
Nugent's Nazi comparison comes as the NRA is already under fire from a Jewish group after one of its lobbyists compared a proposal to expand background checks on gun sales in Washington state to the policies of Adolf Hilter, and mocked Jewish individuals who support gun safety.