From the September 9 edition of Fox News' America Live:
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From the September 8 edition of Fox Broadcasting Co.'s Fox News Sunday:
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The front page of The New York Times created a false choice between being patriotic and voicing skepticism of military force, pairing reports that residents of a town in Pennsylvania are opposed to military action in Syria with the headline "Proudly Patriotic But Skeptical On Syria Attack."
There is no inherent tension between skepticism of military action and patriotism. Any perception that questioning the use of military force raises questions about a skeptic's patriotism only exists because outlets like The New York Times create it.
The report itself details myriad reasons that residents in a southwestern Pennsylvanian town remain skeptical of the wisdom of intervention in Syria, contrasting that with overwhelming support among residents for military action in Iraq 11 years ago:
As President Obama tries to rally domestic support for military action against Syria, the skepticism in Waynesburg only underscores the political hurdles he faces. This bucolic, if fading, corner of southwest Pennsylvania wears its patriotism on its sleeve, shirttail and pockets. At the time of Mr. Bush's decision to invade Iraq, a Quinnipiac University poll in Pennsylvania found that 86 percent of the voters in and around Waynesburg were solidly behind him.
But in myriad ways, the calculus has changed. Some say they now believe that domestic needs neglected during a decade of war override foreign imperatives. Some, reviewing years of pitched struggle in Afghanistan and Iraq, see the Middle East as quicksand that must be avoided at all costs. Some say that Syria's civil war is Syria's problem, and that the United States is not the Mr. Fix-it for all of the world's crises.
And here, at least, more than a few see military action against Syria as unacceptable simply because it is Mr. Obama's idea.
Regardless of whether the answers to any of these questions lead to a decision to support military action or to oppose it, asking them says nothing about patriotism. And The New York Times, of all places, should know that.
More than a decade ago, skeptics were silenced during the run-up to the Iraq War. That example has led voices including that of Colin Powell to say that skepticism is necessary when considering the merits of military action. A lack of skepticism was central to The New York Times' own much discussed failures during the march to war in 2002-2003. In a 2011 column, Bill Keller, the editor of the Times during the Iraq War debate, wrote:
I remember a mounting protective instinct, heightened by the birth of my second daughter almost exactly nine months after the attacks. Something dreadful was loose in the world, and the urge to stop it, to do something -- to prove something -- was overriding a career-long schooling in the virtues of caution and skepticism.
As Americans again debate the wisdom of using military force to intervene in a foreign country, there is little value in creating a false choice between patriotism and skepticism.
From the September 3 edition of Cumulus Radio Networks' The Mark Levin Show:
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Fox News covered up Republican support for defense cuts, letting Republican Congressman Mike Turner (OH) blame President Obama for the cuts, despite the fact that Turner himself voted for them.
On September 3, Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade interviewed Rep. Turner, who linked across-the-board budget cuts, known as sequestration, to possible military intervention in Syria over its alleged use of chemical weapons against civilians. During the interview, Turner complained that "the president has left sequestration in place." Turner later commented that Obama "has allowed sequestration to be impacting our men and women who are every day getting up for our national security."
But Turner, along with more than 200 other Republicans, voted for the 2011 Budget Control Act, which House Republican leadership hailed as a victory. Congress passed the law to incentivize further deficit reduction measures, and when Republicans refused to compromise in considering additional tax revenue and more targeted spending cuts to offset sequestration, the cuts were triggered.
Contrary to Congressman Turner's repeated assertions that the president decided to let the cuts remain, it is Republicans' refusal to pursue alternatives to the cuts that keep them in place.
Fox News senior judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano is criticizing President Obama for seeking congressional authorization for a military strike on Syria after previously criticizing Obama for not seeking congressional authorization for a military strike on Libya.
Obama said he would seek Congressional authorization for a military strike on Syria during a September 1 speech. He stated that he believed the nation's power is rooted "in our example as a government of the people, by the people, and for the people," adding: "[W]hile I believe I have the authority to carry out this military action without specific congressional authorization, I know that the country will be stronger if we take this course, and our actions will be even more effective. We should have this debate, because the issues are too big for business as usual."
Napolitano criticized Obama for seeking legislative approval of military action in Syria during a September 3 appearance on Fox & Friends, calling his actions "mystifying legally why the president is asking Congress for authority to do something that it has already given him authority to do," citing the executive power granted under the War Powers Act to use U.S. forces in some circumstances for 90 days without congressional authorization. Napolitano and co-host Steve Doocy agreed this indicated Obama was treating Syria as a political issue.
While Napolitano is now criticizing Obama's effort to seek congressional authorization for a military strike, he previously criticized Obama for preparing a military strike without that authorization. In March 2011, when President Obama was considering military action against Libya without seeking congressional authorization, Napolitano warned that Obama could use "a terrible law called the War Powers Act," asking Sen. Mike Lee whether Obama was "planning to do something like that, whether the American people or the Congress wants it or not? Even though the Constitution says only Congress shall declare war?"
From the March 7, 2011, edition of Fox News' Glenn Beck:
NAPOLITANO: Senator Lee, it's interesting that Senator Paul said that he's reluctant to vote. You know as well as I that under a terrible law called the War Powers Act, the president can commit to us a land war, or an air war, whatever he wants to do, for 90 days and then renew it for another 90 days and there's nothing the Congress can do about it.
Is he planning to do something like that, whether the American people, whether the Congress wants it or not? Even though the Constitution says only Congress shall declare war?
Fox News' Brian Kilmeade whitewashed the history of the Iraq war, misleadingly implying the diplomatic community supported military intervention, to claim that the Obama administration should respond to the conflict in Syria with similar military force.
Amid reports that the Syrian government launched a possible attack with chemical weapons against civilians, the Obama administration announced it is gathering more information and waiting for the findings of a United Nations investigation into the attack before taking action. But before the facts have become clear, media figures have rushed to push for U.S. military intervention against the Bashar Assad regime. The New York Times reported that while some senior officials "from the Pentagon, the State Department and the intelligence agencies" think intervention is necessary, others "argue that military action now would be reckless and ill timed."
Fox News hosts dismissed these experts' concerns to beat the drums of war, with Fox & Friends guest co-host Tucker Carlson falsely claiming "there's no doubt now [chemical weapons] have been used," and co-host Brian Kilmeade criticizing the Obama administration's response to the Syrian conflict for not resembling the Bush administration's invasion of Iraq. Kilmeade went on to misleadingly suggest the United Nations supported Bush's actions in Iraq, claiming the 2003 invasion gave "the U.N. teeth for the first time in their history":
KILMEADE: It's just unbelievable that they get on President Bush for saying to Saddam Hussein, you have violated 13 separate U.N. Resolutions. We are willing to back that up and give the U.N. teeth for the first time in their history. And he goes and does that. And the message was sent throughout the Middle East, if you cross a line, there will be action. Even Bill Clinton and Bush 41 enforced a no-fly zone for almost a decade because we backed up what we said we would. And now, our words mean absolutely nothing. You can cross us, you can cross that line and we give you a stern tweet as a retort.
In fact, the United Nations Security Council refused to endorse the invasion of Iraq, and then-U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan "warned the US and its allies a week before the invasion in March 2003 that military action would violate the UN charter." The Security Council had previously told the Iraqi government that there would be "consequences" if they did not meet with certain demands, but as The Guardian reported, Annan said "it should have been up to the council to determine what those consequences were."
Annan also made clear in the year following the invasion that according to the U.N., U.S. military intervention in Iraq was "illegal":
Mr. Annan was repeatedly asked whether the war was "illegal." "Yes," he finally said, "I have indicated it is not in conformity with the UN Charter, from our point of view, and from the Charter point of view it was illegal."
The Secretary-General said the war in Iraq and its aftermath had brought home painful lessons about the importance of resolving use-of-force issues jointly through the UN. "I think that in the end everybody is concluding that it is best to work together with allies and through the UN to deal with some of those issues.
"And I hope we do not see another Iraq-type operation for a long time," the Secretary-General told the interviewer, noting that such action needed UN approval and a much broader support of the international community.
The Bush administration's rush to invade Iraq was based on the claim that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and was still pursuing a nuclear weapons program, a claim that has been thoroughly discredited. U.N. weapons experts told CNN in 2004 that they had cautioned the Bush administration prior to the invasion that any evidence of WMDs in Iraq was "shaky," but that the administration "chose to ignore" the lack of solid evidence in favor of war -- a war that lasted nearly a decade and resulted in thousands of American deaths and the deaths of many more Iraqis.
But rather than wait for United Nations inspectors and the U.S. intelligence community to determine whether or not chemical weapons have been used in Syria, and then to assess the best course of action in response, Fox News hosts would rather rush into the conflict and forget the past.
From the August 15 edition of Fox News' America Live:
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From the August 13 edition of Fox News' America Live:
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Minutes after sowing seeds of doubt as to whether U.S. embassies abroad are truly facing a possible terrorist attack, Rush Limbaugh warned that this line of cynical thinking is "really dangerous" and "unhealthy" while ignoring his own role in spreading misinformation.
After the State Department announced the extended closure of twenty-two U.S. diplomatic posts in the Middle East and Africa over the weekend, due to intelligence suggesting the possibility of a planned terrorist attack, Limbaugh pondered the theory that this new threat could be an attempt by the administration to distract from other stories. Limbaugh listed incidents in which he believed the White House has not been truthful before declaring, "[A]ll of a sudden here comes this monstrous terror threat ... It's just easy to not believe it anymore. It's just too easy to be cynical."
Approximately ten minutes later, Limbaugh returned to the topic of the embassy closures. But, ironically, this time he complained that the strain of cynicism which doubts the veracity of the embassy terrorist threat -- the same doubt Limbaugh himself had expressed minutes before -- is "a really dangerous thing":
RUSH: The very fact that there are so many people who are cynical about this. The very fact that there are so many Americans who think they're being lied to about a terror threat is a really dangerous thing. It is an unhealthy thing for the country. It is the surest sign of the wanton lack of respect for this country that has swept all across this country. This threat may be real. Everything we're being told could be real. We could be facing something as bad or worse than 9/11. And I bet the majority of Americans think it is a lie. What does that tell you? That what most Americans think of the people who are telling them about this threat -- they're liars too.
Limbaugh continued during a conversation with a caller, at once explaining why listeners should not trust the Obama administration all while asserting that this distrust of government is "not good." Limbaugh stated, "This administration has shown a desire and a knack for distracting people away from things that might be harmful for them politically." He explained that he doubts the threat because "it comes at a time when this administration is trying to cover up what happened in Benghazi. So it's not happening in a vacuum. And the people telling us this, Thomas, are not clean and pure as the wind-driven snow."
Then he again pivoted, saying "I'm simply putting all this in a flow in a contextual flow to explain why there is a lot of cynicism." He continued, "This threat could be exactly as it's being told. It could be dire. And we've got people out there thinking the administration is lying to them."
Limbaugh's cognitive dissonance conveniently ignored the role he plays in encouraging his listeners to mistrust the Obama administration using false information and his influence on the conservative movement at large. Whether it's his claim that President Obama is "at war with the America that was founded," his exploitation of a 10-year-old girl to lie about death panels in Obamacare, his lies about the attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, or his repeated dismissal of climate change, Rush Limbaugh has consistently proven to be a habitually dishonest low-information radio host.
Beyond Limbaugh's two-faced approach to the embassy closures, the reaction in the conservative media has ranged from deeming the closure a "gross overreaction" to accusing the Obama administration of running from the terrorist threat.
Glenn Beck launched a sordid smear campaign against Teresa Heinz Kerry, the hospitalized wife of Secretary of State John Kerry, accusing her and the State Department of orchestrating her medical scare to divert public attention away from reports about the whereabouts of her husband during Egypt's most recent transition of power. In a pair of cheap shots on his radio program and web show, Beck speculated that Heinz Kerry is lying and drew an institutional connection between what he baselessly suggests is Heinz Kerry's fake injury and the 2012 concussion suffered by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, which Beck referred to at the time as a "scam."
On July 3, Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi was deposed by the country's military leaders amidst popular protests. That same day, CBS reported that one of its producers had spotted Secretary Kerry aboard a yacht in the Nantucket Boat Basin. The State Department denied the allegations, and noted that Kerry was "working all day and on the phone dealing with the crisis in Egypt."
Four days later on July 7, 74-year-old Heinz Kerry, Kerry's wife, was hospitalized with symptoms of a seizure that left her in critical condition. Doctors upgraded her condition to "fair" on Monday morning.
On his radio show, Beck compared Heinz Kerry's hospitalization to that of then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for a blood clot, which he suggested was orchestrated to distract the press from the Benghazi attacks. Beck called the State Department's denial of Kerry's whereabouts a "huge scandal" and wondered if Heinz Kerry's injury -- which took place four days after Morsi's ouster -- was also orchestrated as a distraction, asking "You expect me to believe that Mrs. Ketchup is in critical condition? I mean, no offense, maybe she is." Beck then compared Heinz Kerry's medical scare to Clinton's in 2012, wondering of Clinton's treatment, "Was that just a scam?"
Beck repeated his accusation on his web show, saying of Clinton's hospitalization and treatment, "I didn't believe that. That was to get out of Benghazi." He equated this with Heinz Kerry, adding:
BECK: I mean, I wish Teresa Heinz Kerry the best. But I find it fascinating that she is in critical condition this weekend after the State Department was caught in a lie. The same day the State Department is caught in a massive, massive lie, the same the press is no longer asking anybody about that, because Teresa Heinz is now in the hospital. So, you can't ask any tough questions. This government has zero credibility.
Beck has a history of capitalizing on his media presence to lob attacks against powerful women during their most vulnerable moments. In December, when Clinton first sustained a concussion, Beck ridiculed her and asked whether Clinton's injury was a "scam," claiming, "She shouldn't be President of the United States if she's going into the hospital for some sort of heart condition or brain condition or whatever she was in the hospital for."
Other right-wing media figures joined in mocking Clinton's injury. Several pundits on Fox News Channel accused Clinton of faking her injury in order to avoid testifying before Congress about the 2012 attacks on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya.
From the July 1 edition of Fox News' Hannity:
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From the May 19 edition of CNN's Reliable Sources:
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The cover of the June 3 issue of National Review shows a caricature of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton with exaggerated features and playing a fiddle in front of what appears to be the attacked U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya engulfed by flames. The cover, as TPM noted, is likely "an allusion to the Roman Emperor Nero, who is said to have 'fiddled while Rome burned.' "
According to PBS, history has implied that Nero himself set the fire that burned Rome, so that he could rebuild the city more to his liking:
History has blamed Nero for the disaster, implying that he started the fire so that he could bypass the senate and rebuild Rome to his liking. Much of what is known about the great fire of Rome comes from the aristocrat and historian Tacitus, who claimed that Nero watched Rome burn while merrily playing his fiddle. Gangs of thugs prevented citizens from fighting the fire with threats of torture, Tacitus wrote. There is some support for the theory that Nero leveled the city on purpose: the Domus Aurea, Nero's majestic series of villas and pavilions set upon a landscaped park and a man-made lake, was built in the wake of the fire.
Unlike Nero, Clinton is documented to have been active at the time of the attack in Benghazi. Gregory Hicks, former deputy chief of mission in Libya, testified to a House committee on May 8 that Clinton called him the night of the attack for a report of the events:
HICKS: I think at about 2 p.m. -- 2 a.m., sorry -- the Secretary, Secretary of State Clinton called me along with her senior staff were all on the phone and she asked me what was going on and I briefed her on the developments. Most of the conversation was about the search for Ambassador Stevens. It was also about what we were going to do with our personnel in Benghazi. And I told her that we would need to evacuate and she said that was the right thing to do.
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Fox News have come to the same conclusion -- describing the attacks on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya as an "act of terror" is different, and somehow less accurate, than describing them as a terrorist attack.
On September 12, 2012, the day after the Benghazi attacks, Obama delivered a speech in the Rose Garden in which he referred to the attacks as an "act of terror," saying: "No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for." The following day, Obama twice referred to the attacks as an act of terror, once in Colorado and once in Las Vegas.
During an appearance on Fox News' America Live, Issa accused Obama of minimizing the attacks by referring to them as an "act of terror," saying: "An act of terror is different than a terrorist attack. The truth is, this was a terrorist attack."
On Fox News' Special Report, chief Washington correspondent James Rosen shared Issa's sentiment that Obama downplayed the attacks. "Obama argued that he has been characterizing Benghazi from the get-go," he said. "But the president's words in the Rose Garden on September 12 were vague, not explicit." Rosen added: "What's more, the president spent the weeks after Olsen's testimony in campaign season continuing to steer clear of the terror label."
On September 13, 2001, former President George W. Bush described the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks as an "act of terror."