"Fair and balanced" Fox News informed its viewers that Ronald Reagan loved America, and Barack Obama doesn't.
In a segment Tuesday during one of its "news" shows, America Live, Megyn Kelly hosted pollster Scott Rasmussen and President Reagan's son Michael Reagan to discuss comments from Rick Santorum that Obama "doesn't believe America is a source for good." The segment featured a Rasmussen poll purporting to show that Americans agree with Santorum's assessment. The segment went on to falsely claim that Ronald Reagan never apologized for America, and insinuated that President Obama doesn't love the country that elected him.
The segment began with a clip of Rick Santorum speaking in Ronald Reagan's hometown of Dixon, Illinois, in which he declared: "We have a president who doesn't believe that America is a source for good. Ronald Reagan quoting John Winthrop's shining city on a hill. To President Obama, we are a source of policy that required this president to go around the world and repeatedly apologize for America and what they did -- we've done in this world. Ronald Reagan would never apologize for the greatest country in the history of the world." Then Kelly spoke:
KELLY: Santorum's enjoying that husky voice thing, isn't he? That was former Senator Rick Santorum speaking yesterday in Dixon, Illinois, Ronald Reagan's hometown, in front of a statue of Ronald Reagan on a horse. And a new poll suggests that a majority of Americans agree that this country is fair and decent, that shining city on a hill. In a new Rasmussen Reports poll, 64 percent of Americans say they think we live in a fair and decent society, 26 percent disagree. But take a look at this. The majority of Americans, when asked, believe thatPresident Obama sees this country as unfair and discriminatory.
Kelly then asked, "So what's up with the discrepancy?"
If Kelly wanted to know where Americans might have acquired such a notion, she should watch her own network. Fox News has repeatedly promoted claims that Obama is "selling out America," that he "has contempt for the history of America or America or Western civilization," that all he likes about America is that we elected him, that he has "malevolence" toward America, and that he has an "un-American, almost anti-American mentality."
Here's Kelly and Reagan discussing Santorum's speech, saying that Ronald Reagan would never apologize for America, because of how he "felt about America," unlike that Reverend Wright-attending, Bill Ayers-loving, British-hating socialist in the White House:
KELLY: You know, Michael, it was interesting listening to Rick Santorum there in front of the horse, with your dad on the horse, the statue. Because he was trying to make a juxtaposition between the way your dad felt about America and how this presidential candidate says our current president feels about America. Talking about how the president has, quote, repeatedly apologized for America, and said Ronald Reagan would never apologize for the greatest country in in the history of the world. Is that true?
REAGAN: Yeah, that is true. I mean, look where [Santorum] was, right there at the Rock River. Ronald Reagan, my father, saved 77 lives there at the Rock River there in Dixon, Illinois. It's all the way you were raised. Look how Ronald Reagan was raised. Dixon, Illinois -- small town, Midwest, people proud of the work that they did. Proud of their families. Proud of their heritage. Proud of their country. Look at Barack Obama. Church with Reverend Wright for 20 years, he hates America. Saul Alinsky. Look at the way both men were raised. And look at what the president did his first, second day in office in Washington, D.C. -- took the bust of Winston Churchill and said "Get this thing out of here."
Reagan went on to complain that Obama "apologiz[ed] for America," while "Ronald Reagan always uplifted America. Whether it was outside this country or inside this country, he uplifted America." Kelly returned to this theme later in the segment:
KELLY: Michael, this thing about the apologizing, is something we did a little research on that about your dad. Just to see, you know, did he do a lot of apologizing for America when he was in office? And you are right, not surprisingly; he did not. And said that -- he often said that he would not apologize for the United States. Here's a few examples. June 4, 1983, under this administration: "Our nation is through wringing its hands and apologizing."
Kelly went on to list more examples of Reagan claiming he would not apologize for America.
She and Michael Reagan are, of course, wrong -- Reagan repeatedly claiming he would not apologize for America does not equate to never actually apologizing. As president, Ronald Reagan formally apologized for America on at least two occasions and once expressed regret for the U.S. military shooting down an Iranian passenger jet over the Persian Gulf.
On August 16, 1983, Reagan's Justice Department issued a formal apology to France for protecting Klaus Barbie, a Nazi whom U.S. intelligence recruited and shielded in the aftermath of World War II. From The Economist (accessed via Nexis):
American military intelligence officers recruited and later shielded from prosecution Mr Klaus Barbie, now awaiting trial in France for war crimes while head of the Gestapo in occupied Lyons. Evidence of their involvement has circulated for some time. Criticism has mounted, particularly in France. After an investigation, the justice department on August 16th acknowledged the charges in a long report and made a formal apology to France.
According to Mr Allan Ryan, the justice department's chief investigator of war crimes, army counter-intelligence officers recruited Mr Barbie in 1947 when he presented himself as a source of valuable information, especially about communists who had fought in the resistance.
As allegations of torture and other atrocities surfaced against Mr Barbie, the French sought him for trial. American officers not only concealed his whereabouts by lying to the American occupation authorities in Germany, but, late in 1950, they also helped him escape along the so-called ''ratline'' to South America used by other former Nazi officials.
On August 10, 1988, Reagan said regarding the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II that "we admit a wrong." That day, he signed a law officially apologizing for that shameful period in our nation's past and providing restitution of $20,000 to each survivor. From the AP (accessed via Nexis):
President Reagan, saying "we admit a wrong," today signed into law legislation providing $20,000 payments to Japanese-Americans kept in U.S. internment camps during the early stages of World War II.
In addition to providing $20,000 in tax-free payments to each survivor, the legislation includes an official U.S. government apology for having forced some 120,000 Japanese-Americans, both citizens and resident aliens, from their homes and jobs following the Japanese attack on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on Dec. 7, 1941.
Furthermore, Reagan expressed "regret" after the 1988 downing of an Iranian passenger jet by the U.S. military. While the U.S. has not formally apologized for the incident, Reagan not only expressed regret for the loss of life, he offered compensation to the Iranian and non-Iranian victims. A report from United Press International (accessed via Nexis) noted:
The United States, after several confused hours the morning of July 3, acknowledged it had downed the French-built Airbus and expressed regret. The president subsquently [sic] offered an apology to Iran.
But while the administration has indicated its willingness to consider compensation for families of the 290 victims, who were from six nations, officials have said it may take time to work out details. In addition, the administration wants any compensation to bypass the Iranian government.
(Special thanks to the University of Pennsylvania, which has on its website a list of political apologies, last updated in 2003.)
Finally, contrary to Michael Reagan's assertion, Barack Obama did not take "the bust of Winston Churchill and said 'Get this thing out of here.'" That attack has thoroughly debunked.
But never mind the falsehoods. The Fox News message is loud and clear: Ronald Reagan was a good American from a small town who loved family and country, and Barack Obama is, well, something else.